Jerez de la Frontera, in southern Spain, is home to some great markets, selling everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to rare antiques. Read on for the best mercadillos in this beautiful Andalusian city.
Settings for mercadillos or rastros (as general/flea markets are referred to in Spanish) don’t come much better than Jerez’s Alameda Vieja. This tranquil park is situated in between two of the city’s most beautiful buildings – the 18th-century cathedral and the 11th-century Moorish fortress. Every Sunday, its central avenue comes to life with a mercadillo selling everything from antiques to clothing. After browsing the stands, head to the nearby Plaza del Arenal for tapas.
The best way to take the pulse of life in most Andalusian cities is to head to the central food market, and Jerez is no exception. Housed in an elegant neoclassical building dating from 1885, the Mercado de Abastos is famous for the quality of its fish (the Cádiz coast is just 20 km (12.4 miles) away), particularly sea bream, prawns and bluefin tuna. Also found in this colourful focal point of Jerez street life are stalls selling meat, local wines, fruit and vegetables and olive oil.
Every September, Jerez hosts its Feria de Vendimia (Harvest Festival), which commemorates the beginning of the grape harvest season. The centrepiece of the extended celebrations (this year, they run from September 1 – 11) is a medieval market in the city centre, featuring stands selling locally-made arts and crafts, enormous BBQs and a sizzling hog roast or two. Many locals also don medieval costume to really get into the spirit of things.
If you’re looking for a local street market where few tourists venture, this one’s hard to beat. On Saturday mornings, it spreads out along Calle Jose Ignacio Pineda (situated about a forty-minute walk out of the historical centre), with vendors noisily advertising their wares in the thick Cádiz accent. You’ll find everything here, from seasonal fruit and vegetables to bargain footwear; and as you shop, there will be plenty of opportunity to practise your haggling in Spanish.
The mercadillo de los gitanos is a lively flea market that takes place every Monday morning on Calle Higuela de la Coles (about a ten-minute walk east of the Alameda Vieja). Many of the stalls belong to local gypsies, who come here to sell quality products at knock-down prices; in doing so, they contribute to the typically-Andalusian flavour of this weekly market. Spending an hour or so browsing this mercadillo is therefore a great way to experience Jerezano street life.