The Mercat de Sant Antoni is one of the oldest and most popular markets in Barcelona. Like La Boqueria, it started off as an open air market where traders sold their goods outside the medieval city walls. These walls were demolished in the 1850s as part of urban planner Ildefons de Cerdà’s vision for the city extension, which included a new market to replace the open air Sant Antoni market. It was designed by Antoni Rovira i Trias, a Catalan architect and urban planner who designed several other markets in Barcelona, including La Concepció in L’Eixample and the markets of El Born and Barceloneta. Building work started in 1872 and was finally completed in 1882.
The Modernist structure takes up an entire city block. The iron construction is in the shape of a cross, with a central octagonal dome in the centre of the cross which curves to a height of twenty eight metres. There are eight facades which have large, stained glass arched windows, flanked by two small rose windows each. The market closed in 2009 for renovations with a focus on maintaining the architectural features of the original market, and the grand opening is this weekend! There are a ton of different activities as part of the two day celebration. Here are our top picks of the festival, and you can find all the details of other events here.
Trabucaires de Sant Antoni
Don’t miss out on the Trabucaires de Sant Antoni – a group of locals in traditional dress who parade around and fire blunderbusses into the air to let people know a festa is underway. A bizarre tradition that you won’t see anywhere else!
After the trabucaires there’s a parade of the local gegants, doll-like giants that are carried along in a parade. Each barrio has their own collection of giants, and there are over 4000 gegants in Catalunya, so check out the parade for a molt tipic Catalan cultural event!
Concert Rumba Vella
There’s a concert of Catalan rumba, a genre of music that dates from the 1950s, when it became popular among Barcelona’s Romany population. Drawing influences from flamenco, from Afro-Cuban music and from rock’n’roll, it’s an important part of the musical heritage of the city and reflects its multicultural heritage.
Xaranga Rolling Vibes Collective
Another musical performance, this time from Rolling Vibes Collective. They are a group of six musicians, conducted by a clown, who, armed with wireless microphones clipped to their brass instruments, perform amongst the audience, putting on a great show. Kids will especially enjoy it!
If you haven’t already seen one of these medieval style spectacles then now is your chance! Participants dress up like devils, with dark clothes and horned hoods pulled forward hiding their faces, and dance down the street, spinning fireworks round their heads while drummers play in the background.
Organised by the cultural centre Casa Golferichs, there is a guided visit around the market happening on both Saturday and Sunday illuminating the renovations and talking about architectural features of the market. You can sign up here or by calling 933237790.
Saturday and Sunday, noon