Mercat de Santa Caterina

Top choice in La Ribera

Santa Caterina market in the streets of Barcelona.

Getty Images/Flickr Open

Come shopping for your tomatoes or pop in for lunch at this extraordinary-looking produce market, designed by forward-thinking architects Enric Miralles and Benedetta Tagliabue to replace its 19th-century predecessor. Completed in 2005 (sadly after Miralles' death in 2000), it's distinguished by its undulating, kaleidoscopic roof, suspended above bustling produce stands, restaurants, cafes and bars by twisting slender branches of what look like grey steel trees.

The multicoloured ceramic roof (with a ceiling made of warm, light wood) recalls the Modernista tradition of trencadís decoration (using a type of mosaic made from tile shards). Indeed, its curvy design, like a series of Mediterranean rollers, seems to plunge back into an era when Barcelona’s architects were limited only by their (vivid) imaginations, and bears an uncanny resemblance to that of the Escoles de Gaudí at La Sagrada Família. The brightly coloured pattern is in fact from a photo of a fruit and veg stall, blown up to huge scale.

On the market's southern side you'll spot the excavated ruins of the monastery that existed on this spot between the 11th and 19th centuries.