The Central Market is well-known for its design which dates to around 1900. The market is also called the Bazar da Baixa. In 1900 the colonial administration of Portuguese East Africa opted to expand the capital (then known as Lourenço Marques), which involved further urbanisation of the coastal zone near the city including the construction of a new market in front of the gates of the city not far from the port facilities. The project was given to the Portuguese company, David & Carvalho, who commissioned the architect Carlos Mendes (1869-1922) to design it. It is said that Mendes based his design on Hamburg’s Alsterpavillon.
A large entrance portal with a small tower forms central access to a large covered market hall. Small arched niches provide space for fixed sales facilities. To the north, Mendes designed an adjacent open market space. On 19 September 1903, the 18 stalls of the market consisting of 6 butchers, 6 grocers, 3 fruit shops, 2 bakeries and a bar, were sold. The building was opened on 30 September as Mercado Municipal Vasco da Gama in honour of the Portuguese navigator and explorer, Vasco da Gama (1469-1524). In the late 1940s and early 1950s, it was thought that the market was not aesthetic and might disappear. However, in 2001 building rehabilitation work started with the eventual addition of over 150 stalls by 2013.
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