Central Market, Valencia Spain
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If you have only experienced small markets like I have in my life, Central Market will seem more like a small city housed in a large building. It is grand, and a not to be missed experience for any food lover visiting Valencia!
Discovering Central Market
I was in Valencia, Spain visiting my long distance partner for about a week when one evening I was musing about my plans for the next day. He mentioned to me that I should go check out Central Market, which is located in Old Town Valencia close to where he lives. Eager to check it out, I set out the next day while Jose was at work to find it. I had my GPS in hand, but honestly it is a bit tricky to find if you are directionally challenged like me, and even if you aren't, because the streets of Old Town Valencia are not laid out on a square grid, they twist and turn which is part of the areas charm. The streets basically all look the same if you aren't familiar with the area, every side street is narrow and covered in graffiti, and the buildings are so tall it is impossible to get your bearings from any landmark. In other words there is a strong likelihood you will get a bit lost. When you do finally land on the steps of Central Market for the first time, you know you are about to walk into something special. It is impossible not to be struck by its grandeur. The Market is large, rectangular and built predominantly of brick. A central dome and four corner towers are focal points. The colourful ceramic tile work is vibrant and incredibly beautiful.
The market was built between 1914 - 1928, and covers more than 8, 000 square meters (86,000 sq ft). It is one of the largest public markets in Europe. and offers a unique, authentic and historical experience for locals and tourists alike and is an integral component of Valencia's food culture.
What can you buy at Central Market Valencia?
The market is organized into different sections, each dedicated to a specific type of product.
The variety of what is offered in this market is incredibly varied. It is home to hundreds of stalls. Of course there is tons of meats, cheeses and seafood if that is your thing. While there aren't any vegan cheese products or things like that, there are an incredible amount of whole foods stalls. Fresh vegetables, fruits, freshly pressed juices, dried fruit, preserves, pickles, condiments, roasted vegetables, dry goods, breads, wines, beers, & sweets. I didn't investigate too much about whether any sweets were vegan friendly other than I was able to buy vegan chocolate and turron, which is an authentic almond based nougat, the vegan option I love is one with just the almond and sugar like a peanut brittle in Canada but SO much better.
Central Market Valencia Hours of operation
The market is open 6 days a week from 7 am until 3pm. They are closed only on Sundays and public holidays. It is an extremely busy place (I was there in December). In addition to the market stalls I noticed there was a restaurant or cafe place where you could sit along a bar and order food and a drink.
I also found the vendors to be really friendly. They are happy to talk a bit about their products and traditions. One woman was helping me pronounce words in Spanish when I was trying to order. (I'm studying spanish), and I chatted for awhile with another woman selling turron, tasting some samples before I made a purchase.
How to locate the Central Market
I used GPS on my phone to navigate my way to the market. It's pretty easy to get turned around in old town Valencia in my experience. Even with GPS I took a few wrong turns because the streets aren't just on a simple square grid. They twist and turn. That is all part of the fun though. I spent a lot of time in this area in the span of a couple of weeks and I discovered new places all of the time. (With GPS in hand to navigate my way out again!!!) Pro tip because I screwed it up and got really lost my first day, make sure your GPS is set to pedestrian mode, not car mode. (You can't really drive in this area unless you are a local business or person living there from what I can tell).
If you are staying in an apartment in Valencia and are able to cook, you could definitely shop here and get a ton of variety of whole foods to prepare. If this isn't an option you can definitely find some things to take home with you where ever you are traveling from. I am bringing back turron and chocolate when I head back to Canada. Even if you don't buy anything, the Central Market in Valencia shouldn't be missed!
Shop Turron Below. My favourite are the caramel sugar & almond varieties!
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