Mercado dos Lavradores Market in Funchal Madeira, Portugal
Bursting with exotic colour, heavy with wonderful mid-Atlantic aromas and busy from morning till late afternoon which has a procession of shopping locals and curious tourists, Funchal's main information mill one in the city's most captivating attractions. Built in 1940 by architect Edmundo Tavares, this art deco structure has retained many its original features, including very high-quality azulejos tiling in the mainland. Far from as a possible ossified tourist attraction, the Mercado still may serve as the city’s trading hub.
The market's amazing colour begins right on the entrance where local women in folk costume sell lots of exotic flowers, shrubs, bulbs and seeds. Over the winter the Madeiran national flower, the bird of paradise (estrelícia) is at bloom, an absolutely striking choice if you need cut flowers. Throughout the year an entirely array of weird and wonderful triffids is on display, including a choice of the island's famous orchids.
For most visitors the fruit stalls throughout the open central courtyard are definitely the real highlight. For every fruit you recognise, there'll be one nearby you never. Those that grow on Madeira include anone (custard apples), banana ananaz (monstera), tomate inglês (tamarillo) and papaya, in addition to, naturally, the island's famous sweet miniature bananas.
Other fruity treasures include ripe mangoes from Brazil, sweet oranges from your mainland and local grapes; price is mostly comparable using the island's supermarkets. Pass with the fruit market or longer the steps to get a grandstand take a look at Funchal's main fish market. The star with the show here will be the scary-looking espada (scabbard fish), black, slippery eel-like creatures with rows of razor-sharp teeth and huge watery eyes. They will be the island's staple fish, caught at nighttime deep below the surface with the Atlantic. Huge bloodied slabs of tuna also catch the attention, as also does the nonchalant skill on the fishmongers while they fillet and hack their way with the day's catch.