The La Ribera Market has its origins in the long-gone Plaza Vieja de Bilbao, and in 1990 it was named the largest covered food market in the world by the Guinness World Book of Records. Located in the heart of things on the right bank of the Nervión, this riverside town has seen it all over the course of many centuries. That it is still a community market, frequented daily by people from Casco Viejo and Bilbao la Vieja, is a big part of its allure. Villagers often work as stallholders, and while serving customers they engage in lively conversation.
Brace yourself for the architectural design that outshines its neighbors:
The rationalist architectural style popular at the time of the market's construction is plainly visible. Inside, it looks like a factory because function took precedence over form; there are no columns to block the light, and the rooms are all open to one another. However, the building is actually filled with beautiful Art Deco stained glass windows.
Explore the various floors and brace yourself for the diversity of fresh and preserved food here:
The building's three stories total more than 10,000 square feet and are home to approximately 180 different businesses. You'll find the fishmongers on the ground floor, the butchers and other meat-related stands on the first, and the produce vendors on the second. These days, you can even find a section devoted solely to fresh, regional fare delivered straight from the caseros' humble farmsteads in Biscay.
So that people would come to the market for more than just shopping, there is a food court with a variety of restaurants:
This wonderful food court requires only an empty stomach and the ability to decide where to eat from the grilled meat specialists at Brasserie la Ribera, the excellent seafood at Amua by Zarate, and the delectable Chinese cuisine at Mister Wok.
For example, Torti-Ya, Zubiburu, and Ibérico by Gu 2 offer traditional pintxos, croquettes, and Iberian ham, while La Bodeguilla serves up more than 30 variations of the mythical gildas (pintxos with guindilla pepper, anchovy, and olive).
Stay close to the middle of the restaurant where local and international jazz acts perform every day:
Thanks to a recent initiative, the space is filled with the sounds of jazz every day, and it also features ten gourmet bar-restaurants alongside traditional stands selling an extensive selection of meat, fish, fruit, and vegetables, most of which are brought in directly from nearby villages.
If you'd like, you can even have the market's fresh produce cooked right there in the café-bar.
Calle de la Ribera, 22, 48005 Bilbao Spain