Plaça Mercadal

Market Square

Market Square  Map. Click to enlarge.

The Mercadal Square is in the center of the ancient Balaguer neighborhood, you can reach the square through Barrinou and Botera streets from the highest part of the city (Secà and Firal Neighborhoods) and through Gaspar of Portolà Passage from the modern part of the city, the "Davant Balaguer" ( Modern Neighborhood).

A series of streets and narrow passages communicate it with the rest of the Ancient Neighborhood.

This square creation started in the XIVth. century, when the Jews were obligated to establish themselves outside of the city, beyond Castle and Sant Salvador neighborhoods, the last one developed after the Christian conquest in 1.105.

The expulsion of the Jewish community outside the urban center of the medieval Balaguer, in the year 1.333, meant an important transformation for the city future, with the urban growth southwards, - Jewish Neighborhood - and the construction of some new walls that, joining to the ancient ones in the Gel's Gate, surrounded all the city. So, the square appeared in the wide empty space between the Jewish and the Christian Neighborhoods and that will become the market place.

The square has evolved and changed throughout the centuries. The construction of the New Bridge in the year 1.940, when the city began to extend to the other side of the river, was transformation motive of the square with the demolition of a house (Ca l'Alòs) to facilitate the opening of a street (the Gaspar of Portolà Passage) that laces the square with the bridge and the "Davant Balaguer" (Modern Neighborhood).

During the last years has suffered various urbanizations and modifications until it arrived to the current state, product of the last reform in the year 1.994. An aspect to emphasize of this reform has been the disappearance of the sidewalks to render it to a single level and the possibility of porching completely all the square (a building beside Carrer Major (Main Street) was hindering from was making many years this possibility).

The Mercadal Square of Balaguer is the largest medieval porched square in Catalonia. With a surface of about 7.000 square meters (9.875 square meters with the porched parts) and with a very regular shape, it is surrounded with porchs in all its perimeter. The first trees were planted in the year 1.910.

The great space of the square, with a mild pending to the river, contrasts with the plot of small and broken streets in the old part of the city (Ancient Neighborhood). And because of this the square seems still much larger.

The most characteristic aspect of the square are the colonnades arround it. The absence of regulations, about the parameters and the measures of the buildings, permitted a great variety of facades and types of arches that give it a very particular character.

In the square we can find the City Hall, built the middle XIXth century. The City Hall has suffered many reconstructions and variations since then, especially in its facade. The current building was built in the mid 60's.

The market on Saturdays, one of the most important in the Western Catalonia Western, takes place in the square, invaded by great quantity of post and where a lot of people from Balaguer and its surroundings gather.

Its size (113 meters in the north side, 103 in the south side, 85 in the east side and 103  in the west side) that guarantee its beauty, the protected situation from the winds and from the river, the mountain with the Walls and the Gothic St. Maria's Church, 43 sycamores with its horizontally extended branches, its porchos and its use make it become one of nicer squares in Catalonia.

Take advantage of the visit to the square to take a walk around its porchs and visit the close and cozy streets in the Ancient or Jewish Neighborhoods.

MENU

Church of "Sta. Maria" (St. Mary). Art at St. Mary's. Walls and Gates.
Ancient Neighborhood. "Mercadal" (Market) Square. Jewish Neighborhood.
"Castell Formós" ( Beautiful Castle)
. Sanctuary of the "Sant Crist" (Holy Christ).
Convent of  "Sant Domènec" (St. Dominic). "Davant Balaguer" ( Modern Neighborhood).

English Index. Home Page.