Atarazanas Market in Malaga

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

Atarazanas Market

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!

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.

Tours of Malaga including Atarazanas Market

Book Tours including Atarazanas Market

Architecture of Atarazanas Market

Atarazanas Market entrance (c)Michelle Chaplow

Atarazanas Market entrance

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.

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.

History of Atarazanas Market

From Moorish shipyard to market, Ataranzas underwent many transformations. Following the fall of the city to the Catholics in 1487, a convent was set on the site, 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 demolished to make way for a modern and spacious market.

The Nasrid arch was recovered thanks to the intervention of several members of the San Telmo Academy. It was completely dismantled, stone by stone, and rebuilt in its present location, as the main entrance to the new market in 1876 by the Cantabrian architect Joaquín de Rucoba who designed the market in neo-Arabic style, with slatted, arched windows and panels, but using the most modern of 19th century building materials: iron. it was inaugurated in 1879.

Rucoba was also the author of the La Malagueta bullring.  Sadly several of his other Malaga works have been lost, such as the Corralón de la Muñeca and his building in the Atocha corridor.

The Atarazanas market underwent a major refurbishment in the mid-1970s. Much of the structure was dismantled to be relocated in a neighbourhood neext to the Carretera de Cádiz. This project was suddenly changed in favour of the construction of a multi-storey car park.  Luckily many of the original Ataranzas elements were placed in storage.  They were recovered for the 2010 refurbishment project and can be seen today.


© Chris Chaplow Inside Ataranzas Market
Cleaning up inside Ataranzas Market

Opening Hours

Opening hours 8.00 - 14.00, Monday - Saturday


Calle Atarazanas, 10.


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