Located in Madrid’s Plaza Mayor is the world-renowned Mercado de San Miguel, a century-old public market that has become one of Spain’s most famous tourist attractions. A mighty landmark composed of iron and glass, its elegant and distinctive 20th-century architectural feature never fails to capture the attention of tourists and locals alike, greeting an average of more than 10 million visitors every year.
More than an eye-catching photography subject, Mercado de San Miguel is a shopping mecca and a dining destination in one. The market offers fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, meats, gourmet cheeses, pastries, cooking utensils, beers, tapas, and many more. Its food hall offers a diverse array of choices, including the classic Spanish rice dish Paella, oysters, octopus, Castilian cheese, homemade ice cream, and traditional tapas.
A reawakened market
A thriving market and tourist destination today, the hundred-year-old Mercado de San Miguel is a heritage from past generations. The market was built to serve the needs of the people of Madrid in 1916. The original market was an open-air venue where people sold and bought goods.
As years went by, the bustling market of Madrid died down as people changed their consumption habits in the 1980s. After years of lull, the market found its way back as the first gourmet market in Madrid. It was reopened in 2009, after almost six years of market restoration.
The aim of Mercado de San Miguel’s redevelopment was to make the building sustainable while preserving its historic architectural design. While its quaint facade still exudes a medieval charm, the redeveloped market of Madrid operates on modern sustainable technologies such as LED lighting, water-saving faucets, and heat recovery systems. These technologies ensure that the age-old Mercado de San Miguel will continue to operate while reducing its impacts on the environment. In addition, the world-famous market of Madrid uses a technology that infuses the air with water droplets to cool the entire venue, instead of using an air conditioner.
Attracting more and more people from all over the world, Mercado de San Miguel continues to redevelop itself to keep up with the ever-changing needs and preferences of consumers globally. In 2018, Madrid’s gourmet market was relaunched by onboarding several internationally known chefs. In 2021, after a 9-month temporary closure due to Covid 19 pandemic, it reopened and launched new merchants including an artisan bakery named Madreamiga and top-quality meat store Primital.
A trailblazer in market redevelopment
With its century-old success story, Mercado de San Miguel is one of the world’s pioneers when it comes to restoring and redeveloping public markets. Madrid’s progressive market sets an example for other cities that aspire to modernize their markets.
The government of Iloilo City in the Philippines, for instance, has found inspiration in Mercado de San Miguel’s use of sustainable technologies. The Iloilo City government has tapped property developer SM Prime to transform Iloilo Central and Terminal Markets into resilient and sustainable markets. SM Prime will install facilities for enhanced air quality maintenance, water resource management, and solid waste management. Energy-saving devices like solar panels, skylights for natural lighting and ventilation, and LED lights will also be used. With this rehabilitation project, Iloilo City’s public markets will provide a better market experience to citizens and eventually boost the city’s tourism.
Instead of air-conditioning, the air is infused with eco-friendly water droplets to cool things down.