Malaga City - Atarazanas Market

© Michelle Chaplow Street lamp outside Malaga Market place
Street lamp outside Malaga Market place

Fish, meat, cheese, and fruit and vegetables: all fantastically fresh and at the best prices. The fish section in particular is a visual and olfactory feast. Definitely the place to come if you want to impress dinner guests with giant prawn and lobster-like creatures or if you're thinking of making a twenty-person paella!

The market building has undergone a refurbishment after being closed for a number of years. If you enter the market with you eyes at street level, they will certainly raise to gaze in marvel at the stained glass window oposite fit for any cathedral. 

A great place to have lunch after you've bought up half the Mediterranean is in "El Bar de los Pueblos", opposite the market to the left as you face the main entrance. It's a prawn-head on the floor sort of place, where white-shirted waiters shout and barge their way round with authority. Good, filling menus and very cheap tapas and raciones.

A little history

One of Malaga's architectural gems, the market is easily missed on a busy weekday morning. The streets leading to and from the building bustle and beep with traffic, tourists, workers and shoppers and your eyes will probably stay fixed at street level. Look up, however, or better, return in the early afternoon when the market and shops are shut, and you can appreciate the successful melding of 14th century Moorish architecture with 19th century industrial design.

 © Michelle Chaplow Market Entrance
Market Entrance

The main entrance, an imposing horseshoe archway in off-white marble, is in fact the only remaining part of what was once a grand seven-arched shipyard - ataranzas in Arabic and old Castellano. A shipyard? In the middle of the city? Amazingly, even as late as the 18th century the sea reached right up to the present-day market, and fishermen sat alongside the south-facing wall of the building and cast their lines into the Malageñan waters.

From shipyard to market, Ataranzas underwent many transformations. Following the fall of the city to the Catholics in 1487, a convent was set up there, but apparently the sound of the waves distracted the faithful from their prayers. More appropriately perhaps, the building was then turned into a huge military fort for storing weapons. Later, it became a hospital and even housed a medical school.

Sadly, by the 19th century the original structure had largely fallen into disrepair and in 1868 the revolutionary government of the time ordered the remaining ruins to be pulled down to make way for a modern and spacious market. Thanks to the efforts of the architect Joaquin Rucoba, the last horseshoe arch was saved. Rucoba rebuilt this, placing it at the centre of the southern façade, and then completed the building in Arabic style, with slatted, arched windows and panels, but using the most modern of 19th century building materials: iron.

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© Chris Chaplow Inside Ataranzas Market
Inside Ataranzas Market

Opening hours 8.00 - 14.00, Monday - Saturday