In 1903, when the first brick of Mercado Central was laid, the final brick had just been laid in the Mercado del Grau, making it Valencia’s oldest working market. The market is open air, with a ceramic roofs supported by forged steel columns, to protect the stalls from the elements. Mercado del Grau is a small market and has been usurped by the larger, busier Mercado del Cabañal, a few blocks to the north. Three permanent stalls and a quaint bar, with a large terrace, are all that remain.
This, however, is set to change. A recent upturn in the neighbourhood, thanks to trendy tapas bars such as La Peseta and La Fabrica, which sit on the other side of the market from BikeAlao Bike Rentals, has led to the local council proposing a remodeling of the market. An initial investment of E2.4 million will create 24 stalls and although the market will still be small, it will boast a garden area, a few bars and will be the only genuine market in Valencia which will be open in the evening.
The area already draws in many tourists who come to rent a bike and have a drink in BikeAlao, or enjoy a menu del día in one of the bars, such as La Forja.
Just a week ago my family and I went on a bike tour organised by BikeAlao. It was a fun and easy 3-hour tour along the coast and back to the shop, where they offered us a free post-tour drink to quench our thirst. I had an interesting chat with Chris, the tour guide, who knows a lot about Valencia.
There is also a loyal crowd of locals who enjoy drinks on the sunny terraces around the Grao market. A popular vegan restaurant next door, offering an interesting range of vegan dishes, also draws in many people to the market area. The revamped market is sure to further popularise the area and will sell fresh, organic produce throughout the day until around 8pm.
Work is scheduled to begin in January and I can’t wait to see what it will be like.
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