Architecture of Mercado Central de Valencia

Architectural elements and style

Architecturally, the Central Market clearly represents the spirit of early 20th century Valencia, a city ever more committed to progress and technological advancement.

These characteristics can be found in what many describe as an Art Nouveau cathedral of commerce, in its modernist structure and allegorical decorations.

The structure

The Market covers a total surface area of 8 160 square metres (approximately 87 834 square feet). To adapt to the plot of land it occupies, the floor plan takes the shape of an irregular polygon with fourteen sides. The roof creatively resolves the irregularities of the structure by means of sloping roofs and domes. The largest of the two is 30 metres (about 98 feet) high.

Valencia Central Market ceiling design
From the inside, you can easily see the structure of the Central Market’s roof thanks to the exposed iron beams.

The inside is divided into two areas, one, the biggest, for the sale of garden and other market products, the other one for the sale of fresh fish.

Aside from this, since its first days, the Market has included the underground area. At the time of construction, this dedicated space for loading and unloading goods away from the crowded streets constituted a novelty. Nowadays, the space also acts as a car park.

The style and decorative elements

The building is adorned, both in the interiors and the exteriors, by the combination of wrought iron, stained glass, ceramics, and stone. Overall, the architecture is reminiscent of other Art-Nouveau structures, like the Estación del Norte.

Typical of this style is the integration of industrial materials like iron, with delicate, natural forms, like the ones found in the glass and ceramic decorations of the building.

These elements are present throughout. On the perimeter walls, for example, we can already find exposed brickwork and metal shutters together with colourful ceramic plinths and reflecting glass.

Ceramic decorative elements in Valencia Central Market
Outside the Central Market, you’ll find ceramic decorations all around the building.

Inside, the building’s tall columns and domes, their elongated and elegant lines confer the Central Market a Gothic taste. The stained glass windows of the façade in particular, let the light in through the Valencian flag colours.

References to the orchards and gardens of Valencia can be found in the decorative elements, like the wrought iron on the entrance columns and arches, as well as the stained glass, often representing the sinuous curves of plants and flowers.

There are two domes, the biggest and central one with a circular basis, and a smaller one to the side, with an elliptic basis. The one in the central area is crowned by a weather vane in the shape of a parrot perched on a royal crown. On top of the other dome, above the fish market section, stands a swordfish.

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Architectural elements and style