Throughout Barcelona's 2000 years of history, markets, whether open-air or in purpose-built halls, have helped form its character, and have played their part in all aspects of the city's development.
Barcelona has been a thriving hub of commercial activity since Roman times, and the exchange of goods in the market environment has played a major role in this. The first reliable record we have of the existence of a market in the city dates back to the 10th century, and their role in attracting new inhabitants and creating social cohesion is undeniable.
Reflecting city changes
Like so many other features of its urban geography, the evolution of Barcelona's markets reflects the changes and transformations experienced by the city itself. For example, they played a key role in the introduction of iron architecture and the Modernista (Art Nouveau) style into the urban landscape.
Their development also followed the city's convulsive pattern of expansion across the plain, whether through the absorption of formerly independent towns -many of them with their own markets- or the construction of new market halls in the new neighbourhoods established in the city's outskirts in the wake of successive waves of migration.
Keeping up with the times
All of the above factors left Barcelona with an extensive network of markets consisting of 39 food and 4 non-food markets, all of which have proven themselves capable of facing and overcoming the challenges posed by changing business practices and consumer habits. Barcelona's markets are ready to face the future, make the necessary changes and continue to play a major role in city life.