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La Merced Markets

La Merced Market is technically a whole neighborhood of markets. Not all of them are of keen interest to international visitors, but the point of a page like this one is to give you a better approach.

La Merced is simultaneously a big neighborhood, the Barrio Merced and a giant market area. The neighborhood makes up nearly all of the southeast of the Centro Histórico. The market, though, is in the Alcaldía Venustiano Carranza just east of the Centro Histórico, but in the colonia also called Centro, Venustiano Carranza. Don't sweat the details.

Many will tell you that the Merced began as a famous monastery. The truth is a little more complicated. With the rise of the colonial city, La Lagunilla, the actual lagoon used to supply the giant and famous market of Tlatelolco (by boat) was no longer navigable. The best docks for supplying the city were here on the east side of the city with direct transport links to the farms in the east and south.

Today, the Merced cloister is all that remains of the monastery. The market that began there in the 1860s has moved across the giant Circunvalación street to the east. The old market is today's Plaza Alonzo García Bravo. But the new market is still going strong.

The giant market and all of its satellite markets really began in its present location in 1957. It was a big year for building Mexico City public markets, but just the beginning. The Federal Government renewed its support for public markets. During the following administration, that of Adolfo López Mateos (1958 to 1964), no fewer than 88 public markets would be built in Mexico City.

Today's La Merced Market is very much its own center of gravity. That's part of the reason it's not always the easiest place to visit. It's simply too big, too chaotic, and involves too much specialized knowledge and even lingo.

"La Meche," as it's affectionately called, is simply the diminutive form of the female first name, Merced or Mercedes. It's as if the entire market is everyone's messy-haired little sister.

For city residents, and visitors alike, the La Merced Market may seem like just the Nave Mayor, the enormous central hall. That's where most tours and simple visits will begin. There's a lot more to it though.

Hopefully, the listings below and the map will help you to see a bit more. It's a wonderful place to visit, and a fascinating look at life in Mexico City, and Mexico City food.

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