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La Merced Market is the city’s largest “traditional market.” It’s in the neighborhood of the same name, Barrio La Merced, on the very eastern edge of the city center. It was, for many decades, the main distribution center for the City. Today that role is carried on by the Central de Asbastos, some 25 minutes south in Iztapalapa.
For most visitors, the main market hall, is all the Merced you could need. The pages we’ve put together here are intended to make your visit easier, and to put some order into the truly gargantuan market you’re looking at. In other words, the Merced is a neighborhood of markets. The subject of this page is simply the biggest, the Nave Mayor.
The Merced can be said to be the true heir of the famous Tlatelolco market remarked upon at the very end of the Ancient period. Nearly the only method of food preservation recorded from that time was drying food. And that’s the most important thing, often the most colorful too, that you’ll find in the Nave Mayor building of the Merced.
Note the exceptionally high ceilings. | The Metro Merced station within the Nave Mayor.
The enormous building was created in 1957, and as such, it’s recognized as a historically important structure. Unfortunately, it’s suffered a spate of fires over the past ten years, (and others over the course of its history, that it’s undergone extensive rebuildings.
It may be recalled that the present market began just north of the Merced Cloister, at today’s Plaza Alonso García Bravo. Although begun in about 1862, an actual market building there wasn’t completed until 1880. It went through a few iterations until the site moved entirely in 1957. Prior to that market though, much of the east of Mexico City was continually mired in a constantly shifting and undulating street market. It was only finally banished from the Zocalo at the end of the 18th century. The Merced was always conceived as a solution to this situation.
The 1957 Nave Mayor building that you see today remains an enormous structure, though it has been built, rebuilt, and had fire prevention equipment installed.
One curious detail is that the ceilings of the Nave Mayor are so high, that merchants seem unable to hang much from them. This lends a great deal to the main market’s overall cleanliness.
Inside the Nave Mayor of the Merced Market, there are also several very good places to. A trip here is richly rewarded if you do grab a table.
Click here to learn about the other markets within the Merced area.