The Mediterranean is not just a Sea. It is the channel between Europe and Africa. For centuries, it has been the crossing point for millions of people who have sailed in search of adventure or a brighter future.
Hundreds of years ago, the seaside cities where merchant ships landed became veritable centers of commerce. The market is at the heart of these exchanges. These days they are also a tourist attraction.
Want to see the close connection between local culture and daily life? Here are some the most important and interesting Mediterranean markets…
1. Vucciria Mediterranean Markets (Palermo, Italy)
One of Palermo’s historic markets, its name derives from the French word ‘boucherie’ or butcher, as it originally sold only meat. ‘Vucciria’ also means ‘confusion’ in Sicily. Apt considers confusion a key feature of the market and its various vendors. It’s worth a look just for the stalls, but it’s also home to the historic and artistic buildings of the Mazzarino Palace.
2. La Medina (Tunisia)
Tunisia is the definitive city of the Mediterranean Markets. They are everywhere. The streets are like real-life art galleries, with a wide variety of products and vendors seemingly willing to sell at any price. Camel skin lamps are very characteristic, but even more atmospheric. Black tea, mint, red pepper, saffron, cinnamon… it’s a real treat for the nose. Before visiting, make sure you’ve fine-tuned your five senses and are ready to negotiate everything.
3. La Boquería (Barcelona, Spain)
La Boquería Market is a Barcelona institution. It combines some of the essential elements of Spanish culture: food and a sense of community. Also known as the Mercat de Sant Josep, it’s a veritable culinary temple where farmers, butchers and fishermen sell fresh produce to please visitors’ palates.
4. Aix Market Mediterranean Markets (Provence, France)
There is always a market on Aix. Sometimes vegetables, sometimes old books or flowers. These colorful markets are a great way for visitors to discover Provence’s local produce, especially the cuisine. Thanks to its many passionate aromas, the flower market is one of the most attractive. Find it in front of the town hall.
5. Rialto Market (Venice, Italy)
The Rialto market represents the colors and fragrances of thousands of years. Visiting the city of canals and strolling around the stalls is all you need to enjoy Venetian culture. Fish is the market’s signature product, but here you can also find fruits, vegetables and more.
6. The Pazar (Split, Croatia)
Located near Porta Argentea (Srebrna Vrata), this market sells a variety of fruits, flowers and vegetables. The stalls are particularly unusual in that they are huge ancient rocks. The products ordered here are always fresh as they are delivered that morning.
7. Athens Central Market (Greece)
What’s fascinating about this market in Athens is the palpable oriental feel you get there. Inside, mainly butchers, but also lots of egg sellers and goldsmiths. Oh, another thing you might notice – the market is located in the Agora Omonia; a glass-ceilinged building dating from the 19th century.
8. Spice Market (Istanbul, Turkey)
In Turkish they call it Miss Carsisi, or the Egyptian Market, because this is where you’ll find spices from India and Southwest Asia that made their way through Egypt and across the Mediterranean until reaching Istanbul. In fact, since the days of the Silk Road, the Turkish capital has been the ultimate destination for products distributed in Asia and Europe. This market is full of fragrances but the ones that stand out in particular are cinnamon, cumin, saffron, mint, and thyme.
9. Aleppo Market, Syria
This Middle Eastern market is characterized by its maze of small alleys where you will find all kinds of goods. It is famous for spices and coffee, as well as herbs and tea. Also worth a visit is the Souk al-Attarin perfume market, Souk az-Zarb for textiles and Souk as-Sabun for soaps.
10. Carmel Market, Tel Aviv, Israel
This market is famous for all the fresh produce and their vibrant colors. Visitors come to buy fruit to take to the beach or back to the hotel. However, the most famous feature of this market is that it is dated, if reports are to be believed, the best in the world.