The first covered market in Barcelona, following its recent remodelling the market now boasts a roof that has become an icon for the city.
The site currently occupied by the market was home to the church and convent of Santa Caterina, of the Dominican Order or Order of Preachers. Completed in 1268, it was the first Gothic church in the city and a prominent feature of a religious complex which also included the exquisite 14th-century cloister, a vast library and a 40-metre high bell tower with a pointed pinnacle that made it stand out from other bell towers in Barcelona. Sant Ramon de Penyafort was an illustrious resident there and for a number of years he hosted the meetings of the Consell de Cent.
The convent and the church of Santa Caterina were destroyed during the burning of convents on 25 July 1835 and the municipality decided to build a market on the site it left behind. The works began in 1844, after the old ecclesiastical land was ceded to Barcelona City Council by royal decree, with the stipulation that the market had to take the name of Isabell II Market Square. Popular tradition, however, ignored the royal order and insisted on giving the market the name of the convent and the church.
Despite the tribulations faced by the municipality of Barcelona and the local representative of the monarchy, the market began operating provisionally. In 1848 the iron roof and perimeter walls were officially opened, making it the first covered market in the city.
In the 20th century, during the post-war period, Santa Caterina was the source of groceries for the populations of surrounding villages and towns: Sant Adrià, Badalona, Santa Coloma, el Masnou, Mataró, etc.
Since January 2001 it has boasted an emblematic roof, fruit of the remodelling project designed by Enric Miralles, which has made it a city icon.
The original project was designed by the architect Josep Mas Vila, who presented an ambitious proposal which could not be constructed due to the lack of space. All that remains of the old building are the porticoes of the original facade as the central part was demolished during the remodelling in accordance with the project designed by Enric Miralles.
Winning the bid to remodel the market in April 1997, the most emblematic feature of the project from Miralles, directed by Igor Pereza Curiel, is the roof.
Supported on three large metal arches that cover the main space and which rest upon two concrete beams, which in turn are supported on two pillars which continue into the lower levels of the car park, its exterior geometry is achieved through around a hundred and twenty wooden arches which form a V shape and lean directly against six metal beams.
It is finished with 325,000 glazed ceramic pieces in sixty-seven different colours, which form a colourful guadiesque mosaic, the work of Toni Comella. It leans slightly towards Avinguda Francesc Cambó so that the rainwater drains off in this direction. Between the roof and the facade are wooden panels that allow the air to pass through and facilitate the natural ventilation of the market.
Situated in front of the facade which looks on to Avinguda de Cambó we can see the original porticoed wall, the characteristic tree-shaped pillars and the undulating roof. The visible remains of what was the apse of the church of Santa Caterina are situated on the corner formed by the streets Colomines and Giralt el Pellicer.
Year of construction: 1848
Type of building: free-standing
Total surface area: 3,000 m2
Sales area: 2,176 m2
Alterations: the discovery of the archaeological remains of the old convent meant that the opening date was put back from 2001 to 2005.