ATARAZANAS MARKET

Malaga
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Visiting the Atarazanas Market is definitely one of the top things to do in Malaga. What was originally a 14th century moorish shipyard was transformed into the city’s premier market in the 19th century. The building gracefully incorporates its moorish heritage into its detailed industrial age iron works. Today, as one of Spain’s best markets, you can expect to find a mind blowing variety of groceries. The market is jam-packed with all kinds of fish, meat, cheeses and olives. There are even a few bars that cook up tapas with ingredients that come straight from the market stalls.

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OPENING TIMES

Monday to Saturday: 8 am to 2 pm
Sunday: closed
* On Monday the fish section is closed (because they don't fish on Sunday)

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PRICE

Free

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ADDRESS

Calle Atarazanas, 10, 29005 Málaga

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History of Malaga's Atarazanas

Moorish horseshoe entrance gate of Malaga's Atarazanas, Spain
Moorish gate at the Atarazanas Market

It’s true, the market building began as a moorish shipyard in the 14th century. More specifically, it was built by the most important moorish dynasty – the Nasrids. This was the same dynasty that built the famous Nasrid Palaces found inside Granada’s Alhambra. The name itself, Atarazanas, even comes from the Arabic word for shipyard. But today, if you walk around the market you won’t find any water in sight. In fact, you will need to walk for 10 minutes before you reach the Mediterranean Sea.

So why would they build a shipyard so far from the water’s edge? Believe it or not, 600 years ago most of the building and its surroundings were underwater. In fact, until the city expanded in the 18th century, people were still fishing from the walls of the shipyard.

Stand selling dried fruits & other Spanish delicatessen in Malaga's Atarazanas, Spain
Stand selling dried fruits & other Spanish delicatessen

The shipyard was one of the kingdom’s largest and most impressive buildings of its time. But about 100 years after its construction, Christian forces laid siege to Malaga and successfully took it over in 1487.

After the conquest, the shipyard was used as a convent. The convent setup didn’t last very long though. It’s said that the waves were a constant distraction for the monks and their prayers.

Later the building had several other uses such as an arsenal for storing weapons, military barracks and even a hospital.

It wasn’t until the 19th century when the city of Malaga decided to convert the ruin of a shipyard into a market.

Architecture of the Atarazanas Market

Stained glass window in the Atarazanas market – Malaga, Spain
Stained glass window in the Atarazanas market

In 1870, Atarazanas was falling apart. Architect Joaquín Rucoba (1844-1919) was tasked with transforming the ruin into a market hall. Rucoba paid homage to the building’s moorish roots by blending together elements from two different time periods and two different cultures.

Iron work detail in the facade of the Atarazanas market – Malaga, Spain
Iron work detail in the facade

This resulted in preserving what was left of the original building and adding to its neo-moorish ornamentation in a new industrial style. In addition to the detailed iron works found throughout the structure, there is also an enormous stained glass window which depicts the history of Malaga’s port. Today, the Atarazanas Market is considered to be one of Malaga’s best examples of 19th century architecture.

Bars' Terraces outside the Atarazanas Market in Malaga, Spain
Bars' Terraces outside the Atarazanas Market

Unfortunately, not much of the original shipyard was able to be saved. But thanks to the architect, one of the original seven arches was spared and restored. This horseshoe entrance gate can be found in the center of the southern facade. On the arch, you can still see two small shields with Arabic inscriptions on them saying "Only God is the victor, glory be to him."

The Market

The bustling market is loud, colorful and sometimes even overwhelming. But if you are into food – and who isn’t? – this is the place to be. You’ll find exotic fruits, cured and fresh meat, fish, cheese, fruits and vegetables. The seafood section is particularly impressive. You’ll discover more varieties of prawns than you even knew existed!

The market is particularly clean and well cared for. The owners of the stalls take pride in their product and how it is presented. Strawberries are stacked into perfect pyramids and even the boquerones (small sardines) are laid out in geometric patterns.

Most of the stalls have been handed down from generation to generation. It’s very much a family business in Atarazanas.

Seafood stand at Malaga's Atarazanas market – Andalusia, Spain
Seafood stand at Malaga's Atarazanas market

The market is divided into 3 main sections: 1) fruits & veg, 2) fish & seafood and 3) meat & charcuterie. In the meat section, you will also find a number of bars serving tapas. The speciality is fried fish and seafood. The tapas are tasty and reasonably priced.

Shop around the market and find something to take home. Although you might not be able to fit a whole leg of jamón ibérico in your luggage, you can find some other goodies that are easy to transport. Some examples are chorizo sausages, fried almonds and mojama (dried tuna).

If you are still hungry when you leave Atarazanas Market, make sure to stop by Casa Aranda for the best chocolate con churros in Malaga. For more ideas of where to eat, see our best restaurants in Malaga page.

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