Once you learn that boca is the Spanish word for mouth, you’ll have a sense of how aptly this ancient public market is named. More formally known as Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, I think of it as a feast for the eyes as well as other senses.
There’s more than one entrance to La Boqueria, though many visitors find it off La Rambla, the city’s famous pedestrian boulevard. Here, you’re in the old Catalan district known as Ciutat Vella.
The Spanish know how to enjoy life, and you’ll see locals living well and enjoying conversation with one another amidst all we tourists.
I’ve been told that La Boqueria’s origins date back to the 13th century; the market’s website explains that fruit and vegetable traders would set up in front of the gates of Pla de la Boqueria, the old city wall. This open air market began to draw on the growing prominence of La Rambla; that’s where traders could find their customers. The structure in which the market is now housed was completed in 1914.
You’ll see that life at La Boqueria is colourful. If you’re in Barcelona, make time for repeat visits; you simply can’t take it all in adequately in one stop. Plan ahead, and you can take cooking classes in the market or, like us, bring home a market apron as a memory. Market hours are 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday, but I suggest arriving in the morning as we saw more than one vendor closing up shop much earlier.