Located in the heart of La Rambla, the Mercat de Sant Josep, known as La Boqueria, is one of the most popular areas in the old town of Barcelona. It even receives more visitors each day than the Sagrada Família
. The current building dates from 1836, but its commercial function dates back to the 12th century.
On the area of the Pla de la Boqueria, an open-air street market
was established where the farmers and traders from the surrounding villages would come together to sell their products. This was set up outside the city walls, in front of the Portal de la Boqueria (the Boqueria Gate), to save themselves the tax on bringing goods into the city.
The space where the market is held today is on the site of the former Convent of Sant Josep, founded by the Discalced Carmelites in 1586. It was demolished in 1835 and in its place was planned the construction of a monumental square
that would have been the largest in Europe, of which the neoclassical portico is preserved. It was decided to move the market inside on a temporary basis, but eventually it was moved there permanently. It was expanded into the surrounding area, including the site of the Convent of Sant Joan de Jerusalem, from the 14th century, which had been knocked down.
In 1914, responding to the demands of vendors and shoppers, the market was enclosed with a metal and glass roof
, using iron as the architectural element. Even so, La Boqueria is unlike the other public covered markets in Barcelona, such as the Born
(1876) or the Mercat de Sant Antoni (1882), which were purpose-built from new. It is dominated by a hybrid architecture
that explains the unique history of what was the first market to have existed in Barcelona.