It was many centuries that shaped the market to what it is today. The abundance of relocations, renovations, and constant expansion transformed the collection of a few meat seller stalls into Europe's greatest food market. Today it occupies 2,583 square meters and gives home to more than 270 stalls (273 at the moment to be precise).
The size and number of merchants is comparable only to the huge variety of the products the market offers. We can find poultry, game, meat, meat products , dry and fresh fruits and vegetables, seafood, olives, fresh and preserved fish here along deep-frozen meals, homemade pastry, sweets, and hand-crafted goods. Besides this, the market offers different programs, which are usually centered around food-cooking classes for adults and children, and wine tasting being the most common.
When entering the market, we see a huge mass of people running amongst the seemingly endless lines of stalls, merchants loudly offering their wares; and regardless of all the confusion, it somehow seems well organized. But with this size and the hundreds of thousands of people visiting the market, one might wonder, “Who is capable of keeping all this under control?”
The Stallholders Association encompasses all the sellers in the market and some of the florists and pet shops of La Rambla. They have an annual meeting where they decide about the main questions regarding the market, but the day-to-day issues are handled by the fifteen members of the board who are elected every four years. Besides this, they have all the staple staff of any professional organization: managers, secretaries, lawyers, IT department.
Even though the location of the entrance near the middle of La Rambla—one of the other famous tourist attractions of the city—makes it an obvious destination for all the visitors interested in the culinary pleasures, it is much more than a simple attraction for those who want to get familiar with the local tastes. It is a monument of the highly regarded Catalan cuisine where the local farmers and the chefs of the small bars represent the deep culinary traditions of the region. No wonder that besides tourists, it also draws in a large number of locals to do their groceries, and even famous chefs like Ferran Adria come here to get the best ingredients (and have a slice of pizza behind the fishmongers spot).
The market is open all days from 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. except Sunday, but if we want to avoid the crowd, we should get there before 2:00 p.m. since after this time, the market gets real busy. Visits on Saturdays also should be carefully considered. The sellers have their rest on the next day, so they will try to sell off all the products (especially the ones that stay fresh for a limited time such as fish), which might result in a lower price for good bargainers . On the other hand, the majority of the locals will do their groceries on this day, so one should expect huge traffic as well.
In any case, La Boqueria is a perfect place to feast your eyes on the wide range of delicacies, buy great wine, learn cooking, grab a glass of freshly squeezed juice (for only one euro), have a quick bite or a full meal at one of the legendary bars—such as Bar Pinotxo, which is easy to find at the entrance; just look for the big Pinocchio sitting on the top of the stall). It truly is a place where anyone who loves food can find what they are after.