The sound of the bell rung to start the activity but given the number of people who waited for this moment, an announcement would hardly be necessary. The entire city already knows: Mercado do Bolhão’s doors and heart are open again. As of today, what has always been done in Bolhão will be done again: tradition.
“I didn’t think I would live to see the market open”. With a few tears of barely contained emotion, Aurora Silva has not only lived but has also come from Custóias to Porto, on purpose, for the opening of Bolhão.
Starting today, the Mercado’s stalls wander through streets with names that could well describe this homecoming: Saudade, Alegria (Happiness), Encontro (Encounters), Abraços (Hugs). From the Frutaria do Bolhão the inviting question “Frutinha, amor?” can already be heard, and Rosinha Florista is already receiving Ms Custódia’s usual visits.
Among those who come from far “to see with their own eyes because they didn’t believe it”, those who shared “this positive energy that can be felt here”, those who were “born and raised” around these stalls, hundreds of people have returned to Bolhão. Irmãs Araújo, Dona Ilda, Cantinho da Dona Rosa, Peixaria da Sara or Queijaria do Bolhão, and André Amolador, old and new merchants, can be found there.
The people and the chants have returned, as tradition dictates: “Bolhão is beautiful!”, “Bolhão is ours”, some with more decorum than others. And many thanks’ messages were heard throughout the morning.
Someone who also confesses to an “emotion hard to contain” is the Mayor of Porto, after having rung the bell in Mercado do Bolhão. “This is the day that we wanted, that the whole city wanted”, said Rui Moreira.
After years of selling in a place without the best conditions, promises that did not advance, plus the time – four years – that it took to complete the work, the Mayor of Porto confesses that “accomplishing it feels it was ‘worth it’”.
Rui Moreira believes that “deep down, it is about giving the Mercado back to the people. It is Porto’s way of reuniting with Bolhão, with itself”. “Today the city offers itself that which is its heart. This is Bolhão. We had only seen the asset part. Now I want to see this with the people. Bolhão without people makes no sense, it is not a museum”, underlined the mayor.
With the “best conditions” that are now at the merchants’ disposal, Rui Moreira believes that the new Bolhão will have an “economic impact in the city”, in its commerce. Nevertheless, the Mayor of Porto is convinced that “there are things we don’t buy”. Such as Porto’s soul.
“It is our soul that is here”, he stressed, leaving a message to the city: “what we need now is for people to come and shop here. Now is the time for the city to support Bolhão”.
Future tenders for six shops and nine stalls
Besides the fresh produce on the ground floor’s stalls, which as of today are being sold in 79 places, Bolhão has 38 shops that embrace the exterior of the building and that, soon, will be fully operational, as well as the ten restaurants that will be located on the first floor. In the coming months, new tenders will be launched for the occupation of six stores and nine stalls.
Opening hours will be between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., from Monday to Friday. On Saturday, closing time will be at 6pm and on Sundays Bolhão will be closed for rest.
As soon as the restaurants are up and running, the opening hours will be until 12p.m., and access will happen through the doors of Rua Formosa e Fernandes Tomás.