Est. reading time: 3 min
The historic fresh produce market of Porto is now reopen!
Built over the course of the first world war (1914) and having undergone deep renovation works - for the last 4 years!- Bolhao was just given back to the city and the Portuenses!
(photos above) a Belgian couple on one of our first tours, going through the old Bolhao market, back in 2016. The cluttering and the signs of aging were evident and therefore it came as no surprise when, in 2018, the city council announced it would be closing for a deep intervention.
The city council wanted to ensure continuity, hence 64 of the original vendors were relocated to a nearby temporary indoor space. Now, most of them are back. They walked into an upgraded building, with highly improved conditions which they will now share with some new faces and neighbor businesses.
The renovation project also included a direct new access from the subway system and an underground logistic area. One of the most visible changes is the restaurants' section, with many new seated places to enjoy a meal inside.
(above) The project's architect Nuno Valentim speaks fervently of the work which is now completed.
(below) The two mythological figures that top the main entrance: the Roman Gods Flora and Mercury, representing Agriculture and Commerce, both leaning on the city's coat of arms which proudly features our king-soldier's heart at its very centre.
(below) To mark the reopening, the 'Bolhao' brand was also redesigned. The building's decoration and its surrounding cobblestoned sidewalks, as well as all the digital communication, now include the new logo.
(below) One of the thousands of distinguished visitors to Bolhao, before closing for renovation, was the late Anthony Bourdain, here during the shooting of one of his 'Parts Unknown' series.
The funniest scene of this episode includes a brief dialogue with the fishmongers of Bolhao, or should we say, a crash course on Porto's most unrefined slang...!
A brief look at the history of Bolhao.
The origins of Mercado do Bolhao date back to 1839, when the City Council decided to build a square for a street market. In this place there was an extensive marsh, crossed by a stream that formed water bubbles, which resulted in the name of the market: 'Bolhao', big bubble.
Later, at the beginning of the 20th century, the city's leaders decided to build a new market in order to ensure the food supply that would allow the expansion of the city. After a couple of abandoned projects, finally, the current building got approved and opened its doors in 1914.
It was definitely avant-garde for the time, due to the use of reinforced concrete in conjunction with metal structures, wooden roofs and granite stone masonry, the same type of construction we have in a contemporary and equally emblematic building: the S.Bento train station's grand entrance hall (1916).
A guided running tour of a city may be planned and carried out in different ways: it can, for instance, focus on old stories illustrated by historic public buildings. Alternatively, the tour guide may only resort to recent events and new landmarks in the city, against the backdrop of modern buildings.
At Porto Running tours we try to offer a balanced mix of both, as if we were a world-class DJ, showing you the 'most recent' and the 'remote past' in an eclectic remix in which old melodies would be intertwined with modern sounds.
That is why we are very excited about the reopening of the most emblematic fresh produce market of Porto: the Bolhao! Now we get to tell new and old stories while taking in all the smells and sounds of a public market, in a building that feels new but carries so many of the Portuenses' daily life memories...!
Let's enjoy a visit during an early morning run!
PLEASE SHARE THIS WITH YOUR RUNNING FRIENDS!
Sérgio é o fundador da Porto Running Tours, corre regularmente desde 1999 e desde 2015 que guia visitas em corrida na Invicta enquanto revela algumas das suas mais fascinantes histórias.
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