Get a taste of the real character of Brazil in the Central Market

By Magali Oliveira Fernandes

We are pleased to pass a tip for a stroll on to delegates attending the SciELO 15 Years Conference which will give them a chance to get a real taste of São Paulo, on the Saturday or Sunday after the conference has concluded : a visit to the Central Market, also known as The Municipal Market (Mercado Municipal) of São Paulo, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary in 2013. It is a unique and interesting place, and one to be savored, where the culture of São Paulo can be experienced at first hand. The abundance of food products and drinks of all types on display in the main market hall and its adjacent buildings is sure to impress.

Stand of cheese and cold cuts. Photo: Fernando Stankuns.

Stand of cheese and cold cuts. Photo: Fernando Stankuns.

Situated in the Brás district of the city, at 306 Rua Cantareira, it is, at one and the same time, a Market where color and movement exist side by side. You will find fruit, vegetables, cheeses, all sorts of spices and products of all types.

People prefer to come to the Market during the week. But the majority of tourists visit at weekends attracted to the Market by the famous cod cake as well as the sandwiches served with a generous helping of mortadela, for example: a truly gastronomic itinerary, without a shadow of a doubt!

One of the stained glass windows by artist Conrado Sorgenicht. Photo: Tadeu Pereira.

One of the stained glass windows by artist Conrado Sorgenicht. Photo: Tadeu Pereira.

Shop keepers, customers, tourists from Brazil and abroad blend together to form a backdrop of many different voices and sights, covering an area of over 12,000 square meters which is illuminated by the natural light which comes in through the skylights in the roof of the building itself. There are 250 plus shops and stalls situated in the Central Market which transports us back to the 1930’s. Carlos Perrone (2000) writing in “ São Paulo por dentro” (Inside São Paulo) in 2000 called it a place constructed in “ the neoclassical style with Gothic touches “. In addition to the Market and the bill of fare, everyone can enjoy the fifty-five beautiful stained glass windows created by the artist Conrad Sorgenicht and that were part of the architectural plans for the Market designed by the firm of Ramos de Azevedo.

The famous sandwich served with mortadela. Photo: SciELO.

The famous sandwich served with mortadela. Photo: SciELO.

Few people know, but, right from the start the Central Market was built with the aim of replacing the Old Market which was located at 25, Rua de Março,and which since 1870, had been welcoming itinerant vendors from São Paulo and from other parts of Brazil, who used to sell a little of everything.

However, right from the start, it was envisaged that this change of address would enable “a link to be made with the existing railway and street car network, and also with the Tamanduateí River which would serve as a waterway for transporting vegetables and fruit directly from the vegetable gardens and orchards which were located on the outskirts of the city. Nowadays, these former outlying areas are the urban and industrial districts of greater São Paulo “(Perrone 2000).

During its history, another curious fact concerning this Central Market is that it was once used for the storage of products which were very different to those which are sold there today: gunpowder, and stockpiles of hand grenades and rifles which were used to support the Paulista Constitutional Revolution of 1932. And it was only with the demise of the Constitutional Movement, in 1933, that the Market truly established itself as such, still preserving this role to this day.

It is worthwhile checking out this recommendation of ours more closely. A true spectacle of fruits that taste like fruit should, fresh quality vegetables, seeds of all types and colors in a market the like of which you don’t often see …. and in a traditional environment, vibrant and so different from the atmosphere of the big supermarket chains. An intriguing itinerary to get a taste of São Paulo!


PERRONE, C. São Paulo por dentro: um guia panorâmico de arquitetura. São Paulo: Senac, 2000. Mercado central: mercado municipal paulistano.


Translated from the original in Portuguese by Nicholas Cop Consulting.


Como citar este post [ISO 690/2010]:

FERNANDES, M. O. Get a taste of the real character of Brazil in the Central Market [online]. SciELO in Perspective, 2013 [viewed ]. Available from:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post Navigation