Malaga 2018: Mercato Atarazanas, Picasso’s Birthplace & A Perfect Lunch


Unsurprisingly, I love visiting food markets when I’m in a new city. And I like to go fairly early in the morning when it’s mainly locals shopping rather than later in the day when the tourists descend. Malaga’s Mercado Atarazanas is a delight, full of the most glorious food and lit up by light from a beautiful stained glass window at one end. From the outside, its Moorish heritage is obvious; it has an Arabic look. The name Atarazanas comes from the Arabic word for shipyard and one stood there during the Moorish rule which spanned centuries from 711AD until around 1487. The original building was demolished in 1868 and rebuilt 8 years later but Moorish elements were added to the design.

But beyond the attractive building there are fabulous food stalls to wonder at.


Here’s what I saw.



Malaga is famous for sardines and I stopped for a while to watch a fishmonger fillet some. I also saw a glorious selection of mushrooms.



Some of the tomatoes were enormous and misshapen but I’m sure they tasted wonderful. And there were white aubergines, which I’d never seen before.


Next I crossed the historic centre to Plaza de la Merced to visit Picasso’s birthplace, a house on the corner of the square. It’s a pretty square, lined with lots of cafes so I took a coffee stop before going into the musuem.

Picasso is very much Malaga’s favoured ‘son’ and evidence of his connection to the city is everywhere, even though he left at the age of 19 to go to Paris and never came back, despite living to the grand old age of 91.

The house where he was born is very much a museum now with little evidence of a ‘home’ inside. There are a few beautiful early drawings by the artist on the ground floor but in many ways it’s a disappointment. It costs €3 to go in.

I crossed Plaza de la Merced and headed over to the sea and beach: Playa de la Malagueta.

I always love the combination of a great city and beach! It was such a lovely sunny day I enjoyed walking along the seafront. I ventured briefly on to the sand towards the sea, but the sand was quite coarse and grey – ‘industrial’ sand rather than nice soft golden sand.

I cut back round at the end of a peninsula to the port and walked back up towards the town.

For lunch I decided to head back to the market. I knew I’d find the best and freshest fish there.

I went to the busiest stall and waited for a table outside – just a small high bar table and stool.


I ordered a raciones – ½ portion –  of mixed fried fish (€6). Wow! It was amazing; so good. I had a small beer too and loved sitting on the crowded street amidst other enthusiastic diners. To make the moment perfect a couple of guys came right behind me and began singing and playing Flamenco guitar.


It was a wonderful morning – and then siesta called and I made my way back to the hotel.

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A lifelong lover of good food and travel; writer and book editor

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