In my blog, I often write about once beautiful buildings here in Uruguay that have fallen into disrepair or have been completely abandoned.
So you can imagine, how "thrilled" I was, to finally see an impressive historical gem of a building restored! The Mercado Agricola was declared an Historical National Monument in 1999. This century old space was restored by investing some 11 million dollars (US) into renovating it. This building was newly re-opened to the public on June 29th, of this year (2013). It is now, a "must see" place to visit!!!
In the barrio Goes, near the Palacio Legislativo (Legislative Palace) is the newly restored Mercado Agricola (Agriculture Market). The foundation stone for this historical structure was laid on December 30th 1906. Work continued in ernst on it in 1910 and it was completed on November 30th 1912. It was officially inaugurated in 1913. It was designed by the architects Antonio Vázquez and Silvio Geranio.
The restoration included reconstruction of both the decorative and functional elements of the building including the facades. The original metallic braced structure with columns of iron and roof truces was modeled after the Mercado de Les Halles in Paris. This metallic design allows room for grand spaces underneath with few supporting points impeding the vast space. This is a similar style to the Mercado del Puerto built in 1868 also in Montevideo, near Ciudad Viejo (old town).
The iron (hierro) roof structure is 5,867 sq. meters and had once belonged to a structure from the Great International Exposition in Brussels, Europe. It was obtained for this Mercado (market) in Uruguay by the then President José Batlle y Ordoñez after a visit he made there.
The entrance facade that faces the street called José L. Terra was done in ceramic work after the European style of the day. The date 1910 is also in ceramic. That date reflects when the work was fully involved.
Credit for the revitalization goes to the City Hall or the Intendencia de Montevideo!
I must say that the attention to detail and the quality of the restoration impressed me and I can be hard to impress at times!
Inside is a grand market place as the name Mercado suggests! It has a food court, restaurants, vegetable markets, spices and etc.... There are 107 businesses inside.
It also has a coffee enterprise that sells and grinds beans for expresso and coffee. The important thing for people who live here to know is that 3 of the whole bean offerings are not only your choice of mild, medium or strong/fuerte taste but those beans are NOT GLASEADO!! That means the beans were not roasted with sugar as is the custom here! Three other beans choices also in mild, medium and strong flavors are roasted with the sugar.
|Beer on tap. The Choperia Mastra sells speciality made beers.|
|A cute vignette set up. Detail of the cobblestone pattern.|
The prices are reasonably competitive. Unfittingly, there is even a Falafel place in the market called Bárbaro (Barbaric), which is a term of admiration here. You can take a peek at their prices and menu. Foreign food is a rarity here, so anytime you can get it, it's a treat. Just don't expect fast service.
If you are ever in Montevideo and want something to do under cover then by all means stop in at the Mercado Agricola and enjoy this newly restored gem! The hours are from 8am to 10pm (8 a 22hrs.).