The story of Mercado Ferreira Borges in Porto

I already wrote about Mercado do Bolhão, the centenary market of Porto where all tourists head to. That article was…

Sara Riobom
14 de March de 2016

I already wrote about Mercado do Bolhão, the centenary market of Porto where all tourists head to. That article was part of a series about the markets in Porto, so today I am writing about one of my favourite ones: Mercado Ferreira Borges.

The story of Mercado Ferreira Borges in Porto

facade mercado ferreira borges porto
© jaime.silva

When you’re heading to Ribeira from Avenida dos Aliados, you’ll probably notice a massive red iron building nearby Palácio da Bolsa. That building is Mercado Ferreira Borges, a market built in 1885 and named after a famous politician from Porto that supported the liberal troops during our civil war in the XIX century. It is a remarkable representation of the iron period in Europe, from which only a few buildings survive.

What is most curious about this market is that it was never quite used as such. Even though it was designed to replace an old market in Ribeira, once it was built it didn’t quite fit its purpose and so in the beginning of the last century the City Hall of Porto started wondering what to do with it.
old pictures mercado ferreira borges porto

From being used as a warehouse for military equipment to holding a community kitchen for the needy population of Porto, Mercado Ferreira Borges has seen it all.

Its precarious uses and its location were soon used as arguments by those that wanted this building demolished in order to build a car park.
Fortunately there was a man, Adriano Vasco Rodrigues, president of the Art and Science Committee of the Town hall of Porto during the 70’s, who firmly opposed to this decision, and Mercado Ferreira Borges remained as the last tribute to the iron period in Porto.

professor adriano vasco rodrigues
Nonetheless, it was then proposed to convert the building into a Modern Art Museum. Once Again, Adriano was against it. “I told them that modern art often requires open spaces to display sculptures and temporary performances. Moreover, being so closed to the river, paintings and other fragile pieces of art would soon deteriorate. It was when they found an empty palace on the occidental part of town, with a wonderful garden: Museu de Serralves had found its place”.
In 2010 the City Hall of Porto granted the rights of public use to a famous concert house / club in Vila Nova de Gaia: the Hard Club.

© rilo 2006 (Portugal), via Wikimedia Commons

The architects responsible for transforming this ancient market into a concert house did a remarkable job. They kept the façade, as demanded by law, and on the inside they built two dark parallelepipeds separated by a long corridor with no connection to the building itself. This way, it is ensured the temporary nature of this occupation, as no permanent modifications were made both on the building’s structure.

Personally, I see this use as a remarkable adaptation of an ancient market to a new reality. Which other markets in Porto would you like me to write about? 🙂

Save this article for later:

mercado ferreira borges porto
history mercado ferreira borges porto portugal

Related tours

Half Day private tour in Porto (4h)
Behind-the-scenes access to Porto's well kept secrets.
From 80€ / person
Check Tour
Full Day private tour in Porto (7h)
The most exclusive wine lodge in Porto is waiting for you.
From 119€ / person
Check Tour
Private Jewish Heritage tour of Porto
Discover the hidden treasures of the Jewish history in Porto.
From 75€ / person
Check Tour
Private Wine tour in Douro Valley
Exclusive tour of family-owned wineries and hidden culinary gems.
From 135€ / person
Check Tour
River cruise and wine tour in Douro Valley
Enjoy award-winning wines, authentic Portuguese cuisine and amazing river views.
From 135€ / person
Check Tour

Related articles

Everything you need to know about Lello bookstore

Visiting Lello bookstore should be one the top of your priorities of the best things to do in Porto, right…

Sara Riobom
1 de December de 2019
Best Music Venues in Porto

In my years working as a tour guide, I’ve had the chance to hear all sorts of praises for my…

Sara Riobom
30 de November de 2018
How to Avoid tourists in downtown Porto

Let’s face it: it’s getting impossible to breathe in downtown Porto due to the amount of tourists that visit the…

Sara Riobom
21 de February de 2017
Half Day private tour in Porto (4h)
Check Tour