Montevideo Street Markets

Posted on October 28, 2008


As in many South American cities, the weekend action is at the street markets. Here a mix of locals and a few tourists mingle over the wide variety of merchandise for sale. Here you can find everything from a new set of undies (in many many colors) to handmade lamps to a new hammer. The hundreds of vegetable stands are a testament to why people are skinny here. What I would give to just have one of those vegetable and fruit booths in Columbus! This is where the locals do their shopping and the prices are very low. The streets are shut down and crammed with hundreds of booths in a chaotic order that perhaps makes sense to a Uruguayan. There are two markets I have graced with my presence:

Feria de Tristan Narvaja

This is the mother of all street markets. It covers 30 square blocks of narrow, tree lined streets. The entire market is set up every Sunday morning and it is completely gone by late afternoon. The focus of the market is on useful things that you use in your household and it is more for the local than the tourist. Some of my favorite vendors included:

– A mobile pet store with hundreds of colorful birds for sale, ducks, rabbits, dogs, and cats. Perhaps some were intended for a relaxed weekend meal.
– A belt store with thousands of varieties of belts. They can customize on the spot, changing the sizes of the belts, changing buckles, adding holes. Average price for a nice belt is about $7.
– The sponge store with piles of sponges in the street, both natural sponges and the yellow kind with an abrasive green backing.
– Multiple book stores with interesting old books on things like vacationing in Argentina and poetry.
– Fruit, fruit, fruit everywhere. It all looked so good and the colors were beautiful. We bought peaches that were so juicy they exploded like water balloons.

photo courtesy of Laura B.

photo courtesy of Laura B.

The side streets contain the flea market areas where anyone can throw down a blanket and sell whatever happened to be sitting around. It was a collectors dream and the prices were so low that everything was tempting. Who doesn’t want to start an old camera collection? Or have an entire collection of Brazilian love song records?

Feria de Biarritz

This market is a little better organized, set up along the paths of a large park a few blocks from my hotel. Feria de Biarritz is held each Saturday morning and the wares offered can be grouped into three categories. There is the food area with fish vendors, cheese trucks (queso), meats (carne), and lots of fruits and vegetables. There is a clothing area with hundreds of vendors selling everything from bathing suits to leather jackets. Finally, there are random artists scattered around the edges selling homemade jewelry, pen drawings, and other assorted stuff. My favorite was a large metal sign with a metallica logo. I really wanted to see who might buy it.

Posted in: Uruguay