Sant Antoni District and Market | Barcelona Bus Turístic

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Sant Antoni District and Market

Barcelona’s finest example of cast-iron architecture

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A popular shopping district and home to Barcelona’s largest market, which was designed by Antoni Rovira i Trias and built by the Barcelona metalworking company Maquinista Terrestre i Marítima. Sant Antoni Market, which has been fully renovated, is the nerve centre of a district that has recently become popular with the city’s young urbanites.

Why visit Sant Antoni?

The origins of the Sant Antoni district lie in a monastery dedicated to Saint Anthony that was built in the 15th century next to the city wall, while its famous market dates back to the 13th century, when improvised flea markets started to be held outside the city walls. The imposing iron construction you see today, which was built from 1879 to 1882 by the architect Rovira i Trias based on Paris’s Les Halles market, has always played host to three different types of market: a food market, a flea market and a Sunday market.

The market occupies an entire block in the Eixample and consists of four structures in the form of a diagonal cross. At the intersection of the four structures there is an octagonal lantern tower projecting from its roof. The market is impressive not only because of its size (it is Barcelona’s largest, with a surface area of more than 12,000 m²), but also due to the quality of its design, its structure and its decorative elements, which make it the city’s best example of cast-iron architecture.

The building was closed in 2007 for comprehensive remodelling work. The proposal that won the competition organised by Barcelona City Council and the Municipal Markets Institute for the renovation project was submitted by the architects Pere Joan Ravetllat, Carme Ribas and Olga Schmid. The remodelling work unearthed one of the medieval city wall’s eleven bastions (also named after Saint Anthony), a 16th-century farmhouse, and even a stretch of Roman road, all of which will be displayed in the museum areas incorporated into the restoration project. The renovation has increased the market’s size to 30,000 m², half of which is set aside for stalls. The market's old internal courtyards have also been recovered for public use.

Alongside the fully renovated facilities of the market a large number of new shops, bars and leisure establishments have sprung up over the course of the last decade, making Sant Antoni one of Barcelona’s liveliest districts.

 

How do you get to the Sant Antoni district?

The Sant Antoni district is delimited by Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes (from Plaça d'Espanya to Plaça de la Universitat), Ronda de Sant Antoni, Ronda de Sant Pau and Avinguda del Paral·lel. You can easily explore it by hopping off at the Plaça d'Espanya stop on the Red Route of Barcelona Bus Turístic.

 

For the most curious of you

  • Did you know? On Sundays the market is a collector’s paradise. Second-hand books, comics, video games, CDs, vinyl records, albums, stamps and many other collectables are on sale at its myriad stalls.
  • Local’s tip: Sant Antoni is one of Barcelona’s trendiest districts. It is a good place for a drink or an informal dinner.
  • A must: For those who want to experience life in a Barcelona neighbourhood.