A Noisy and Lively Market in the Centre of Town:
Mercado do Bolhão, a noisy and lively market in the heart of Oporto city, is a nice place to visit if you’re looking for a change in scenery from your usual sightseeing attractions.
The market is housed in a two-tier covered building and there are four main entrances that take you to the different levels. The market is divided into main sections providing areas for fishmongers, butchers, vegetable, flowers and so on. Vendors here sell everything from fresh fruit to household goods.
Brief History of Mercado do Bolhão
The existence of the market dates back to 1839 when the Oporto City Council put into place plans to concentrate all the city’s markets into the one location. The current building was opened in 1914 replacing a previous market on the site.
In 2007 the Port Authority put out to tender the design, construction and private operation of the market place. The winning tenderer announced that “The demolition of the entire interior of the Market Place is an inevitability to monetize the investment”. Their proposal also included the construction of luxurious homes and a shopping centre, leaving only about 3% of the total area of the Market Place for traditional commerce – surprise, surprise! Thanks to protests and petitions by locals and some associations there seems to be a reprieve on the redevelopment and privatisation of this market space.
An Entertaining Stroll through the Market
As always, I enjoy walking through market places and seeing what the locals are selling. The lady selling olives and nuts has huge tubs of delicious tasting olives – if only I could take some home I would certainly be buying bags from her. The cheese stall has a wide variety of cheeses, including Serpa brand. Cheese from the Serpa region is reputed to be one of the best in Portugal, rivalled in taste and quality only by cheeses from the Serra da Estrela region. Nearby is a stall selling my favourite chessnuts and on and on ….
If you can take your eyes and senses away from the food area, there are stalls selling silk flowers, nice handicraft work and other souvenirs that you can take home as presents.
Strolling through the Mercado do Bolhão is quite entertaining as you hear the lively women vendors making loud competing calls to customers to come and buy their goods. At a fruit stall, Tony causes some laughter as he stands by the women and joins in beckoning customers to their stalls.
The Mercado do Bolhão is at Rua Sá da Bandeira and the closes Metro is the Bolhão Station.