The old Anglo Saxon word for market was “ceap”, from which we get the word ‘cheap’. Colon Market is anything but cheap and is a fairly successful attempt to “do a Covent Garden”.
The original building, finished in 1916, was an Art Nouveau homage by Francisco Mora to Catalonian architects such as Gaudí. Its style, with ornate brick facades and a soaring iron and glass vault has been compared to St Pancras station in London.
In 1985 the fruit and vegetable market was closed and a rebuilding project took place which included three levels of underground parking and a two floor covered shopping area, conserving the exterior façades of the old market.
The downstairs area has had quite a turnover of restaurants and shops but conserves some specialised food stalls selling cheeses, wines, hams and fish.
One of the restaurants is Ma Khan, run by Londoner Stephen Anderson.
Upstairs there are cafés where you can sit outside but with the impressive girders towering over your head and mix with the elegant and chic shoppers or business people willing to pay the extra prices that go with the privileged surroundings.
There are also a couple of flower stalls where you might come across Cockney Barrow girls in need of Pygmalion, and specialist chocolate and delicatessen shops.
If you have time to spare you can also buy a newspaper or watch the kids fall off a couple of mini roundabouts or contract the services of a professional photographer who is never there but has a place anyway.
I can’t imagine the shops sell very much, maybe they get a tourism subsidy to stay open, but the relaxed atmosphere so near the city centre and in an area with some fairly interesting shops makes it a good place to waste a bit of time between pressing engagements.
They also organise the occasional concert or cultural event and there’s a restaurant nestled up in the rafters reached by a lift, although I’ve never seen anybody go in.
The attention to detail on the main facade is fascinating, and true to the style of Gaudí, with all kinds of fauna and flora.
Although it’s called Colon Market, it isn’t in Calle Colon but in Cirilo Amoros, a street that runs parallel to and between Colon and Gran Via Marques de Turia.