Malaga’s Market is located right in the city centre. Its name, Atarazanas, is hard to remember but has a long history. The market hall is located on the site of the old Arab shipyard (hence the name). A place where tradition and history meets everyday pleasures and culinary escapades.
I have a weakness for markets, in particular those that can be found in Southern Europe. Not every city around the Mediterranean has a market to write home about, but that’s different in the case of Malaga. Atarazanas may not be the best known market in Spain (thank you, Barcelona), but it’s definitely one of the top things to do while visiting Malaga. It is certainly the best market to see in Andalusia.
The indoor market is open all year round, from 8.00 am to 2.00 pm, from Monday to Saturday. It’s the place where locals go grocery shopping – every day and not just for special occasions. Just like with other market halls, it’s a wonderful all-in-one-destination to experience the depth and variety of the local culture. Come with me, as I explore the market stalls one fine Thursday morning.
Fresh Produce, Tapas, and a Lively Atmosphere
The second you enter the Malaga Market you are surrounded by sights and sounds and smells. The market halls are booming, people stroll along the stalls, pick colourful fruits from the vendors, order fish to be cut into fillets. There are small groups of tourists, admiring the wealth of Spanish delicacies, all coming together in this one special place. Chorizos and gambas, sweet strawberries and sardines, cinnamon and pickled olives.
There are some real culinary highlights here, some of them seasonal. Look out for cherimoya, a custard apple kind of fruit. Try some of the pickeled baby aubergines, served with their stem like a bunch of flowers. Homemade patés made from duck, chicken and bacalao. Shrimps in all colours and sizes. Tied bunches of cinnamon and licorice root.
It is busy, but not too much. You don’t need your ellbows to negotiate your way around the aisles. The halls are bright and airy, the smells subtle, the floors clean. We stop at a tapas stall, order some paella and fried padrón peppers. We wash it down with sangria while standing, watch other customers order empanadas and tortillas from the counter. Our little lunch is so enjoyable, we finish it off with a glass of local vermuth from the small keg for dessert.
A Historic Place in the Centre of Malaga
Atarazanas is a historic place, so it makes sense to pay attention to the details while there. Malaga’s proud seafaring past can be best seen from the outside. Look up to the beautiful stained glass windows. On the other side there is a giant horse-show shaped arch. It’s the last one remaining out of seven from a time, when the Moors used the site for building ships.
You may wonder why anyone would think of building ships in the centre of the city, with no water in sight? Well, not so long ago, this area of the city was still the waterfront. Look around you – tall apartment buildings, cafes, cars and shops everywhere. It is hard to imagine how Malaga must have looked like a couple of centuries ago.
Today, the market halls combine medieval Arab architecture with early Industrial design. The ornamental iron supports and shutters blend in perfectly with the old stone from Moorish times.
Atarazanas – A Very Spanish Experience
Before we return to the tran station, the nearest being Centro Alameda, we ponder about whether or not to take home some fresh safran for our next paella.
If you are visiting from another country, you may have the same idea. Don’t forget that there are certain customs regulations in regards to alcohol and fresh food, in particular if you are travelling back to countries outside the European Union like the United States. It’s best to buy and consume on the spot, or at least before you head to the airport.
But even without buying, a trip to Atarazanas is still worthwhile. Just indulge in the sounds and smells, the mix of voices and the buzzing activity of the locals. Try some of the exotic fruits that came all the way from Africa. Admire the fish that lay there in a pattern. And just enjoy your very, very Spanish experience with all your senses. More photos as you scroll down!