The beautifully restored and historic Madrid food market is just steps from Plaza Mayor. For a tapas treat and feast for the eyes, visit Mercado San Miguel Madrid!
Foodie stops are always a favorite of mine when exploring a new city. Even better is when I find a delicious stop that lets me taste the best, fresh foods from the area in a beautiful, historic location. A Mercado San Miguel experience includes a chance to share authentic Spanish tapas with friends and get gorgeous photos, so how can it miss?
This Madrid food market is one of the most popular tourist attractions. In fact it draws an average of 60,000 visits per week. Just a short walk from Plaza Mayor, Madrid’s central and oldest town square, it’s an easy stop on your visit to Madrid city center. The glass and steel structure is itself photo-worthy, as is the artfully displayed produce and cuisine. Even more, a Madrid food market has existed in this location since approximately 1809, making the stop rich in history, too!
Mercado San Miguel Madrid History
On this location in 1430AD one of the first urban sites in Medieval Spain was developed. This was the site of the parish church of San Miguel de Octoes. However, this church was first destroyed by fire in 1790, leading to its demolition in 1809.
The unfortunate events in these years, opened the door for the property to be enlarged and then acquired by the Earl of Sacena. The area, for the first time, became a Madrid food market and public square with outdoor stalls which mainly sold fish. Over time, this expanded to a perishable goods market, and in 1835 the town hall created a new square with stalls specifically for the San Miguel market.
Original Madrid Food Market Building
It was not until 1909 that the current style of San Miguel food market was built. It was Don Honorio Riesgo and Don Alehandro Vilegas that undertook this project, building in what was becoming known as the “Parisian style.” This echoed Les Halles Centrales in Paris, with a large hall of glass and steel. The new San Miguel market was inaugurated on May 13, 1916.
The new-style Mercado San Miguel Madrid food market managed to stand (though was closed) through the Spanish Civil War. Then continued to operate through an owner’s loss of the property, eventually bought as an owner’s association in 1951. During this time most of produce came from the area immediately around Madrid, and included fish, meat, tripe, poultry, vegetables, fruits, and olives. The Mercado San Miguel supplied not only the finest restaurants in town, but also the palace of the Pardo.
Restoration of the Famous Madrid Food Market
The first attempted restoration of Madrid’s San Miguel Food Market took place in 1999. Private capital was raised by the stall owners, and supplemental European funds were used to rehab the historic site. While the market was restored to its original appearance, business continued to slow. It was believed that a combination of poor traffic access and urban expansion were just too inhibiting for the market.
Mercado San Miguel Madrid was declared a cultural, architectural, and historical monument of interest.
It was in 2003 that a group of private investors, under the name of “Gastródomo de San Miguel” secured the building. It was declared a cultural, architectural, and historical monument of interest, in order to protect it from being destroyed. Two other similar food markets had fallen to this fate in the past years. The true restoration began, reinforcing and rebuilding the entire structure “pillar by pillar.” This turned out to be a much more extensive project than had been anticipated as the 1999 attempted restoration was revealed to be “vastly insufficient.” The wrought iron had rusted, and various structural issues plagued the building.
Vision for Madrid Food Market Rehab and Use
The Gastródomo de San Miguel had a clear vision for the new Mercado San Miguel Madrid. They wanted to bring together merchants who were dedicated to their produce, and the produce would be the star of the show. A primary focused was on creating a meeting place. Somewhere to relax, enjoy, and taste, while taking a break from sightseeing and shopping. To that end, the hours were extended, adapting to the pace and schedule of the metropolitan city. Moreover, they wanted the space to allow for conferences, concerts, and other events.
Today’s Mercado San Miguel Madrid
Today, the new and improved Madrid food market is a gourmet tapas market where you can taste the best foodie options from all corners of Spain. With 30 permanent and 3 portable stalls, you can have a sampling of hams, olives, produce, baked goods and many other options. There are also two bars serving up a variety of beers and wines.
Keeping with the Gastródomo’s vision, the Mercado San Miguel Madrid is also equipped with plenty of accessible floor space for events, and a P.A. system and comprehensive broadcasting system, equipping the market to function as a television set. Together with the granite floors, fully restored iron structure, and inlaid oak and glass throughout, it creates a set to draw the eye and palate.
Visiting Mercado San Miguel Madrid Food Market
Mercado San Miguel Location:
- Plaza de San Miguel, along Cava de San Miguel.
- Steps west of Plaza Mayor.
Mercado San Miguel Hours:
- Sunday through Thursday: 10am-Midnight
- Friday, Saturday, Holiday Eves: 10am-1am
For more specifics visit the Mercado San Miguel Food Market website.
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