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Thursday, August 15, 2013


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 friend named Syd wrote in TripAdvisor about the Choperia Mastra. An artisan chop or beer house serving 10 beers on tap! I was attentive to his description of an Amber beer he ordered called the Del Mercado that had hints of apple and cinnamon flavoring (notar un sabor a manzanas y canela).

A cute vignette set up. Detail of the cobblestone pattern. 
The inside of the Mercado has wide aisles with beautiful cobblestone floors, the original market had cobblestones inside too. There are many interesting and cute places to look and eat at .

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.).


Femur said...

Actually the place with falafel is named Barbaros meaning barbarians ...

Anonymous said...

This is fabulous, what a find! I haven't heard of this place before! Thanks for the info and I am especially happy to learn of the availability here of coffee that isn't roasted with sugar!

I am putting Mercado del Agricola on my list as a must see on my next trip!


Denise said...

Okay Femur,

Thanks for the clarification! I forgot that the logo showed a Viking with a horned hat, so yes, you're right, he is a barbarian!

The menu items are called bárbaro (bárbaro mini,super,al plato etc..) which was why I got the name confused! My dictionary is very generous with the meaning of "bárbaro" because it says; barbaric, barbarous, bold, reckless, tremendous, terrific ,huge and BARBARIAN! As a term of admiration I was thinking of the terrific and tremendous definitions!.

Anonymous said...

Hi Denise:
I'm Ray from New York City, I've been reading your blog for a while and enjoy it very much, I also read some of Syd Blackwell food reviews so I was looking for his TripAdviser review and couldn't find it, could you please put a link to it. Thanks

Denise said...

Dear Ray,
The link was there all along but I had linked Syd's comment to the beer house Mastra (underlined and in yellow) but I have now also linked it to the word TripAdvisor so click on either one and you will get Syd's comment. I have checked it out and they both work.
Thanks for reading!

Anonymous said...

and BARBARIAN! As a term of admiration I was thinking of the terrific and tremendous definitions!.

In Uruguay, its common for words to have a double meaning, specially if it is a Playfull double meaning. So in this case, you are both correct,

"Bárbaros" in this case, does mean as Barbarians Vikings, the place's logo says so as well.

BUT BARBARO! its used LOCALY (for exacmple in mexico it doesn't mean the same) to express something GREAT; AWESOME,

So this company its actually using the double meaning.

Any local would know that.