History & Architecture
Mercado Colon (Mercat Colon) is a relatively new addition to the glory of Valencia. The idea of building new market in this part of the city dates to 1904. But it took one decade to allocate the lot and budget for the project commissioned to the city-architect – Francisco Mora.
Officially, construction works started on August 27, 1914 at the land previously housing an old gas factory between the streets Philippines (today Jorge Juan), Puerto (today Cirilo Amoros) and Ciscar (today Conde Salvatierra). The whole project included also creation of the new street – Banquells (today Martinez Ferrando). The works were completed in 1916 and inaugurated on the New Year Eve of that year.
The imposing 100 x 47 meters (about 330 ft x 155 ft) large structure with two lateral masonry portals in the form of arches interconnected by metal roof supported by cast iron pillars created a giant covered “open space”. At first glance, it was a sort of industrial-style building typical for those times (quite similar to structures of old railroad stations). Closer look however was revealing strong architectural accents representing Valencian Art Nouveau at the turn of the century. The colorful Gaudi (in wider sense Catalan)-influenced brick facades, omnipresent decorations depicting local country life and in general exceptionally fine finish made the Market Colon an instant architectural success adding an extra splendor to the residential, architecturally increasingly impressive surroundings.
For decennia the Market Colon was successfully fulfilling its essential functions as the vital source of the fresh food for local residents. With time however, modern grocery shops and large shopping malls mushroomed in the neighborhood signing the “death sentence” to the traditional market represented by Mercado Colon. Indeed, in quite out of grace “state of sorry” the Market Colon was closed in 1985.
Fortunately, it was not the end, but rather the beginning of the new area of this magnificent structure declared in the meantime as the National Monument. The fast changes in commercial landscape forced Mercado’s administration to change the business model converting the whole space into the vibrant commercial spot with numerous bars, restaurants and cafeterias. For this purpose, the old structure of Mercado Colon was completely renovated. The major new “additions” are invisible from the outside – they include the market’s underground level with more commercial space and few shops as well as a 3-level underground parking. Due to its complexity the renovation process was carried-out in 3 phases starting in 2000 and finishing in 2003.
The modern project skillfully preserved Mercado’s original architectural elements and decorations representing Valencian Modernism. Renovation created also opportunity to add the elegance and style representing contemporary trends. The six large glass-cubes on the ground level house cafes and bars. Surrounded by “gardens” with tables and comfortable chairs and sofas, it is a space to relax, spend time with friends sipping coffee, chatting, treating yourself with cake, tasting beer, enjoying music. It’s also an ideal place for lunch and even for more gourmet dinner. The truth is that contrary to the Mercado Central (still largely dominated by fresh food stalls), the Market Columbus is now mainly the place to meet with friends.
The market and shopping area (although in quite limited form) was moved to the underground level where you can still find selection of fresh meat, fish, dairy products (cheese), fruits and veggies and large selection of wines.
Market’s open-space concept was also preserved so the ground level to some extent blends with the atmosphere on the streets (decorative wrought-iron fence is the only barrier).
Located in the heart of the Historical Area, the Mercado Colon is a focal point for local residents and tourists.
Where to eat/What to do
Bocados Café – It’s a modern cafeteria-bar with large selection of pastries, cakes (try Red Velvet) sandwiches (delicious Spanish versions known as bocadillos), salads (try Quinoa & Bulgur), variety of soft drinks including fresh juices, smoothies (batidos)…. Apparently you can also get there the English Breakfast! Place to hang-out with friends
Ma Khin Cafe – A magic place aspiring to combine the best of both worlds, East and West. Strongly rooted in Burma (today known as Myanmar) it reinvents the English-influenced Asian colonial food mixed with Mediterranean ingredients. Thanks to the Chef, Steve Anderson (himself the 2rd generation descendant of Burmese Grand-Mother Ma Khin Hnyaw and British official Sir William Carr) the recipes take the best from his family experience in culinary art. As Steve Anderson points it out – one of his favorite ”ingredients” of good cuisine is a saying of his Grandfather: “Going slowly, coming nicely”
The name “Ma Khin Café” may be a bit confusing (let’s say it’s adding into the mystery of the place) because in reality it is rather a restaurant, café-bar and take-away shop – a modern and stylish “all in one” place where you can gourmandize (with the little help of large selection of wines).
Las Cervezas del Mercado (Beer Market)
The recently opened Beer Market nicely adds to Mercado’s Colon gastronomic offer. Located on the lower level of the Market, Las Cervezas del Merkado offer stunningly large selection of beer from all over the world. You will find here drafts from one of 16 beer taps (periodically changing the “content” according to the season) and countless supply of bottled beer. Connoisseurs will find here the most famous brands of beer, but you will also have chance to try (may be the first time in your life) unknown samples of craft beers from all corners of the world. Not surprisingly, there are also local beers like Valencian Tyris.
Beer wouldn’t reveal its richness of taste without the accompanying food. That’s why Las Cervezas del Mercado offers good selection of signature sandwiches prepared by renowned Valencian chefs (including Steven Anderson from neighboring Ma Khin Café, but also Begoña Rodrigo de La Salita, Carito Lourenço and Germán Carrizo from Tändem Gastronómico, Jordi Ferrer from Freecook, Kiko Moya from L’Escaleta and Vicente Patiño of Saiti). You will also find always delicious patatas bravas and tapas.
The place is designed in a modern, somehow rustic style (wood) with the touch or retro (colorful fridges). Wooden stools at the bar as well as small dining area with tables and chairs may not be overwhelmingly comfortable for long lasting beer “appreciation” parties.
Casa de l’Orxata
It’s a family business operating in Mercado Colon since its re-opening after renovations in 2003. As the name points out, the Casa specializes in drinks called Horchata (Orxata in Catalonian). This popular Spanish soft-drink is rather unknown to the outside world. It is a mixture of milk from tiger nuts (called “chufa”), water, little bit of sugar and cinnamon (Horchata Valenciana) and is served as a cold refreshment. The drink has very unique taste (and for those familiar with Mexican horchata) – totally different than its Latin American version which is based on rice.
It should be noted that tiger-nuts are grown mainly in the province of Valencia (they were brought to Span by Moors from Egipt) so other regions of Spain developed their local versions of horchata like for example Horchata de Almendras (dring based on almond milk) popular in Cordoba.
Just in case you wouldn’t like Horchata Valenciana (the drink is either loved or hated), you will find in Casa l’Orxata plenty of other drinks including beer, wine, coffee, chocolate, freshly-squeezed juices (to name only few). But this is not all – the Casa l’Orxata is a sort of eatery so you can count on more than snacks and pastry.
It may be worth to mention that Casa’s owners follow the business philosophy that can be shortly expressed by the following words: “Quality, Ecological, Local” – it tells it all.
Florist Baladre de Colón
Flowers may not be exactly what you would like to have for lunch, however possibility to buy few fresh ones on the spot for your “chosen one” may make the lunch a special event. And that’s what Florist Baladre can help you with. Located at the entrance they are part of the Market de Colon since the re-opening in 2003.
The lower level of the Mercado Colon houses several gourmet shops, continuing tradition of the food market.
Varea Carnes and Burger – the shop offers selection of high quality meat as well as meat based products (cooked dishes, croquettes, pates, hamburgers…).
Charcuterías Manglano – Founded by Jose Manglano, this gourmet shop operates in Mercado Colon since 1955. You will find here the best selection of delicatessen products including sausages, variety of ham, cheese, oils, vinegars but also jams and wines.
Frutas y Verduras Fina – it’s one of the shops with deep links to the past of Mercado Colon. Today, in modern settings the sop offers best quality, mostly local fresh fruits and vegetables.
Pescaderia Martin & Mary – It’s the fish market offering mostly Mediterranean and Atlantic fish and variety of seafood (best oysters, barnacles…). You can actually taste them accompanied with glass of wine of cava in the small bar “Oyster” next to the shop.
The Mercado Colon is bordering streets: Cirilo Amoros, Comte Salvateria, Jorge Juan and Martinez Ferrando. In a wider sense it is located in the district L’ Eixample two blocks from the “Rio” between more recognizable Carrer del Colón and Gran Via del Marqueés del Turia. L’Eixample is the vibrant part of Valencia bordering Historic Old Town and bohemian Rusafa. It is also one of the most expensive residential areas in Valencia with grandiose architecture, luxurious shops, gourmet restaurants…
Closest metro station: Colon (line 3