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Mercat de Santa Caterina

Despite its remarkable architecture, Mercat de Santa Caterina often gets overshadowed by the world-famous Boqueria market. However, this market hall in the center of Barcelona deserves your attention too. Besides being an architectural masterpiece, it’s a delightful place to dine and experience the local cuisine, away from the tourist crowds that throng Boqueria and Las Ramblas.

What to See and Do at Mercat de Santa Caterina

There are many reasons to visit Santa Caterina market. Firstly, for its architectural significance and the wonderful selection of food. It’s also much quieter than the Boqueria Market, making it a more pleasant and authentic experience. Hidden within the Santa Caterina market hall, you’ll find delightful surprises, such as the beautiful restaurant Cuines de Santa Caterina, and the excavated remains of an old monastery.

The Santa Caterina Market Hall

After Mercat de La Boqueria, Mercat de Santa Caterina is the most popular among tourists. While tourists snap photos and stroll through, locals shop for groceries or dine here.

From the outside, the Santa Caterina market hall is stunning. Its colorful, undulating mosaic roof attracts many curious onlookers.

The Santa Caterina Market Hall
The Santa Caterina Market Hall

Inside, you’ll find a modern and pleasant food market selling various fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, and fish, providing a glimpse into Spanish and Catalan cuisine. The majority of the stalls cater to local customers, with fresh local products and ready-made meals for home consumption.

The Roof of Mercat de Santa Caterina

The most spectacular feature of Mercat de Santa Caterina is undoubtedly its amazing colorful undulating roof. Created by architects Enric Miralles and Benedetta Tagliabue, it was completed in 2005.

The shiny, wavy, and brightly colored roof is designed to be seen from the air, but it’s just as impressive from the street.

The ceramic pieces forming the colorful mosaic are meant to represent vegetables and fruits, directly linking to this food market.

The roof is also connected to the building by an equally impressive wooden structure.

Het dak van Mercat de Santa Caterina in Barcelona
The Roof of Mercat de Santa Caterina

Archaeological Excavations at Mercat de Santa Caterina

On the eastern side of the market, you’ll find the “Espai Santa Caterina,” where remnants of the demolished 15th-century Gothic monastery, Monestir de Santa Caterina, and a Christian burial ground are displayed. Other archaeological traces even date back to the Bronze Age.

These excavations are free to visit during market hours. The cultural organization MUHBA oversees these archaeological findings.

Espai Santa Caterina Barcelona
Espai Santa Caterina

Dining at Cuines Santa Caterina

Inside the Santa Caterina market, there are various bars and cafes for a bite to eat. However, the best place to stop is definitely the restaurant Cuines Santa Caterina, located on the right side of the market hall on Avinguda de Francesc Cambó.

The restaurant itself is divided into two sections; one serves as a bar offering drinks and tapas, and the other is the restaurant itself, featuring show cooking, allowing diners to watch chefs in action.

Cuines Santa Caterina offers an extensive menu with various cuisines under one roof, making it an excellent dining spot for groups.

History of Mercat de Santa Caterina

Santa Caterina market, the first covered market in Barcelona, opened in 1845 to supply local residents with food. The market hall was built on the former site of the powerful Dominican monastery, Santa Caterina.

After the Civil War, Santa Caterina became the main food supplier to nearby cities. People from Sant Adrià, Santa Coloma, and Mataró came here during times of scarcity.

From 1997 to 2005, architects Enric Miralles and Benedetta Tagliabue renovated the market, giving it its modern façade and wavy roof.

Today, the market remains worth visiting: the modern exterior contrasts with traditional stalls selling produce directly from the farm and eateries serving high-quality dishes.

How to get to Mercat de Santa Caterina

The Santa Caterina Market is located on Avinguda de Francesc Cambó, between the Barcelona Cathedral and the trendy Born district. This modern market hall with its colorful, wavy roof is easily visible from Via Laietana. The nearest metro station is Jaume I (L4).

Please note that large groups (of 15 people or more) are not allowed in the market on Fridays and Saturdays (from April through October). This is to reduce the crowds that large groups of tourists can sometimes cause and to prevent it from becoming a “second Boqueria Market.”

Useful information

Price: Free.

Opening hours: The market and the archaeological excavations are open on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays from 7:30 am to 3:30 pm, and on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 7:30 am to 8:30 pm.

Address: Avinguda Francesc Cambó, 16 08003 Barcelona

Public transport:

Metro: Urquinaona (L1, L4), Jaume I (L4)

Bus: 47, 120, N8, N28, N70, V15, V17