Why You Should Visit Santa Caterina Market


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The Santa Caterina market in Barcelona is much more than just a food market since you will see innovative Barcelona architecture during your visit. This visually attractive food market offers far more than just your regular grocery store. For example, below the market is MUHBA Santa Caterina, which is a site where you can see ancient ruins. The name in Catalan is "Mercat Santa Caterina," and in Spanish "Mercado de Santa Caterina." Let's take a look at what else makes this place unique among Barcelona markets.


Santa Caterina Market - The spectacular multi-colored roof

The spectacular multi-colored roof

An Example of Landmark Barcelona Architecture

The first thing that you will notice when you see the market is that the roof of the building is like nothing you have ever seen before. This fascinating roof showcases various bright colors that represent the fruits and vegetables within. The roof is, in fact, made up of 325,000 tiles in 67 different colors.

People love this iconic roof. Once you see it, you'll realize it's utterly unforgettable. It sets this astonishing market apart from virtually any other building in existence!

Santa Caterina Market - Details of part of the roof structure

Details of part of the roof structure

The History of Santa Caterina Market

To understand the significance of the market, it's important to know a little bit about its history. This work was the first covered food market in the city. It was originally built in 1845 for a blue-collar community.

The original market was built on the Convent of Santa Caterina. The convent burnt down in 1835. Ten years later, the market gained its name from the old church.

For years, this market provided food to people in the neighborhood's outskirt areas. During the post-war era, this was the source of groceries for surrounding areas like Badalona, El Masnou, and Santa Coloma.

In 1997, an architecture firm, led by the husband/wife team of Enric Miralles and Benedetta Tagliabue, got the commission to refurbish the old market creatively. The building took an extended period to complete and wasn't finished and opened to the public until 2005.

Enric Miralles is a Spanish architect who graduated from the School of Architecture in Barcelona. Together with his wife, they formed EMBT Architects. Their other most famous work of Barcelona architecture was the building for Gas Natural, the Spanish gas company. They were perhaps best known for their work on the impressive Scottish Parliament building, which is located in Edinburgh. Unfortunately, Enric Miralles passed away at the age of 45 in 2000. He never got to see the completed market.


Santa Caterina Market - The Santa Caterina MUHBA center (Barcelona History Museum)

The Santa Caterina MUHBA center (Barcelona History Museum)

Visiting MUHBA Santa Caterina

While the market of St. Caterina was originally slated to open in 2001, the findings of old remains delayed the completion date. During the building process, the team was surprised to find various ancient remains including those from a 1241 Gothic church as ruins from a necropolis from the Roman days.

The surprising architectural findings that were located during the refurbishment of the market are now open to the public. This site, which is part of the Museu D'Historia de Barcelona, is located in the basement. Here you can find the Convent of the Preachers or Convent de Santa Caterina.

You can also see the remains of the necropolis from late Rome, with their various tombs. Visitors are welcome to MUHBA Santa Caterina, and it remains a fascinating place to see ancient Barcelona architecture.

History Walking Tour including Barcelona History Museum

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Santa Caterina Market - The restaurant inside the market

The restaurant inside the market

What Can You find in the Market?

Currently, the market is fully functioning, and it offers a wide variety of food for sale. You can find everything from fresh fish to fruits and vegetables among about 100 market stalls.

The current market is far different from the original version built in the 1800's. For example, technology in the stalls allows customers to send in their orders via email!

Another major perk to visiting this market is that there is a big and very delicious restaurant inside. You will find you can enjoy a lot of food for a very reasonable price.

Barcelona Walking Tour Gourmet Including the Market of Santa Caterina

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Santa Caterina Market - The old building under the modern roof

The old building under the modern roof

The Best Barcelona Markets

There are a lot of great Barcelona markets to visit during your trip that will give you an authentic "taste" of the past. Santa Caterina market should be at the top of your list. Not only will you see some amazing architecture, but you can also take a fascinating look at the ancient past of this neighborhood.

Also don't miss La Boqueria, which is probably the city's best-known market. This attraction is conveniently located off of La Rambla. There is also the Sant Antoni Market, which is very similar to La Boqueria, but it has fewer tourists.

Art and architecture are so much a fixture of the city's landscape that it makes sense that even a food market must have compelling Barcelona architecture. There is so much innovative and surrealistic design in the city, and this market fits right in.