Going up market in Santa Cruz

Sometimes there are great discoveries right under your nose, this proved to be the case with the African market in the Tenerife capital Santa Cruz. Our football coach passes it on the way back from home games and I keep meaning to go and have a nose around inside. It’s referred to as the African market, but the full name is Mercado de Nuestra Senora de Africa (market of our lady of Africa) and many people, myself included, assume that it sells the sort of tacky crafts and souvenirs sold around the bars of the south. Today was a pleasant revelation for me.

African market

Opened on January 4 1944, the arched entrance leads into three spacious courtyards and a very welcome attack on your senses. Flowers, plants, vegetables, meat, sweets, wine and much more, you name it , they have it at one of the bustling shops. The clock tower dominates the centre and the skyline of the nearby area, and today the christmas tree had just taken up residence. Downstairs is another collection of intimate shops including eco friendly food outlets, but your nose will lead you to the large fishmongers market where you can come face to gills with every manner of sea creature caught locally.

African market

Back upstairs, there is a childrens play area, and a selection of cafe bars, including one where you can sit out in the courtyard and watch the shoppers hustle by, I had a coffee at a bar where the bar stools had home made embroidered covers, that seems to sum up the feeling of pride the traders have in their market.

There is one cloud on this happy horizon, the Sunday rastro (flea market) that takes place outside is under legal threat. Residents of a new building in Calle Bravo Murillo, have denounced the rastro for noise and mess, despite it being there long before they came along. The courts have ruled in their favour and banned any stalls within 350 metres of any building, this is potentially a blow a busy local area that also includes a permanent street bazaar in Rambla Azul. The traders in the African market are organising opposition to the ruling and apealing to the local council to find a better solution.

African market

More power to their busy elbows, it’s nice to see traditional markets thriving in the heart of the big hi tech capital that Santa Cruz has become. The African market is open every day from 7 am to 6 pm, and is just a short walk from the main bus station.