Mercado del Puerto in Montevideo, Uruguay
Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay and the most populated city of Uruguay, has a multitude of charms in its whole extension, with a European atmosphere, streets lined with trees, elegant buildings and charming boulevards that circle the entire city and its spectacular coastal scenery that surrounds the city shaped bay.
For those wanting to venture into Montevideo for a day or two, May and June are wonderful times to get around the city. The Centre and the Ciudad Vieja where the museums, squares, fairs and markets are located are a must see.
But one precise place has a special feel to what Uruguayans consider their cultural heritage: The Mercado del Puerto an old market with over 130 years of history, where dozens of grills and restaurants specialize in offering the delicious Uruguayan beef, accompanied by Tannat wine, which is the typical strain of the country.
Market near the Port
The Puerto del Mercado is an obligatory stop for anyone visiting Montevideo.
Located in the heart of the Old City, opposite the port area, The “Mercado del Puerto” is a classic that invites both tourists and locals to enjoy the surroundings. The project was designed by the Spanish merchant Pedro Saenz de Zumarán in 1885 who rode a private company with the goal of creating the largest market in South America.
Irons, Gates and Arches
The design and construction were commissioned to engineer Measures, who were also responsible for the task of controlling the manufacturing of metal parts made in the workshops of the Union Foundry KT Parkin in the city of Liverpool.
The outcome of the design still makes a great impact. The supporting structure of the roof is held by a main central column that projects outwardly. The iron structure is concealed behind a masonry enclosure with openings in the form of arches and gates. The façade gives the impression of heaviness and opacity and contrast with the fragility and lightness that the spacious interior provides.
The architectural qualities, turns it into center piece of an era, being a work closely linked to the history of the country as a tourist attraction in Montevideo.
Currently, although the basic original characteristics of the deck and exterior facades are preserved, eventually the Mercado del Puerto has had modifications but this has not affected the atmosphere of the place.
Typical Uruguayan Food at the Mercado del Puerto
The market is not exactly a traditional market but an important gastronomic center. The activity of the market with its special charm has become a typical place for locals and tourists.
In the Mercado del Puerto people gather to celebrate toasting with the classic “half and half” and savouring the varied cuisine. Other sites offer exquisite red and white meats, pastas and other dishes from the region. The side dish like the tortillas and the desserts are impossible to be missed.
The Uruguayan meats and cheese excel. The specials are the “Parrillada” – dishes prepared with assorted meats made in “parrilla” (grill roasting the Uruguayan wood-grilled meat). The steaks are always tender and juicy but the famous Uruguayan grilled options with its stuffed meat bites such as kidneys (kidney), molleja (salivary gland of the bull) and chinchulines (intestines) are the most requested. For those with a more sensitive palate, the simple and traditional cuts of meat are present. For meat lovers all these flavours are spectacular.
A drink made with white wine and fruit, and served with cold ice called Clericot is a great choice for warmer days. Also the famous “Medio y Medio”, a type of sparkling wine with white wine, which is a typical Uruguayan drink, is always present at meal times.
In addition plenty of small craft shops with many goodies like the Uruguayan “alfajores” biscuits to take home make the Mercado del Puerto a place to relax and linger.
Outside the Market, there is a Handcraft Market where you can buy beautiful things, made by local artisans. The market is also an area of concentration for artisans and folk musicians. Surprisingly the rise of cultural activities that have been brewing in the vicinity of the Old Town, has led to a handful of artists to install their workshops around the Mercado del Puerto.
The market is open until 4 o clock in the afternoon when offices close. Montevideo is a very safe city, but the region, usually crowded with tourists, can attract pickpockets. Attention is never enough.
Mary Ann Thompson