Mercado de San Miguel, Madrid

Category: Madrid

Are you coming to Madrid, Spain in the upcoming future, either for a short holiday or extended visit, and looking for some fun and interesting things to do while you are in town? Are you a fan of traditional marketplaces, where food and other goods are sold in an atmosphere that’s more social than it is commercial? If so, the Mercado de San Miguel is definitely something you should try to visit during your approaching stay. To help you become more familiar with this Madrid landmark, below we have compiled some interesting facts about the Mercado de San Miguel, including some information regarding its construction and the features of the market itself.

Mercado de San Miguel

The Mercado de San Miguel is an early 20th century covered market situated in the historic and scenic center of Madrid, the nation’s capital. Although Madrid is home to many covered marketplaces, this is by far the most charming and is very popular among visitors and locals alike.

The name “Mercado de san Miguel” is taken from the Iglesia de San Miguel de los Octoes, a church built in the 1400s that once stood where the market is now located. Near the close of the 18th century, in 1790, a fire that originated at the Plaza Mayor brought heavy damage to the church. Because of its historical and religious significance to the people of Madrid, several attempts were made to restore the Iglesia de San Miguel de los Octoes, but in 1809, the self-installed King of Spain, Joseph Bonaparte, brother of Napoleon I, ordered its demolition after the Spanish architect Juan de Villanueva had deemed the building unsafe to inhabit.

Once the church was demolished, the empty space it created became home to a fish market. According to historians, plans to create a covered market at this location were drawn as early as 1835, but it was not until 1911 that these plans got any traction and were ultimately approved. Construction finally commenced for the new covered market in 1913, under the supervision of Alfonso Dube y Diez. In May of 1916, when the market first opened for business, it became the most modern and spacious market of its kind in the country, constructed with a tough iron frame, wooden roof and sturdy granite floors.

Today the Mercado de San Miguel is the last iron market hall in Madrid, as older markets of its kind have since been demolished. During the first several decades of its existence, the market thrived, but towards the close of the 20th century its future came into doubt due to rising competition from more modernized grocery stores. These were very lean years, with a declining number of vendors and visitors, and eventually the market began to fall into disrepair.

The fortunes of the Mercado de San Miguel would turn in 2003 thanks to a group of individuals who, under the name Gastrónomo de San Miguel, acquired the marketplace. Their primary goal was to transform the market into a 21st century establishment, while still retaining its history and charm. The plan succeeded, and under this new group’s direction the market reopened in 2009 with 33 vendors, selling produce, fish, meat, pasta and even cookbooks in a beautiful, yet relaxed atmosphere. Today, in addition to these vendors, there are also several cafes and min-restaurants offering tapas and other traditional and foreign fare, as well as several bars where guests can quench their thirst with everything from coffee and tea to beer, wine and champagne.