Bogotá has 20 markets recognized by the district, all located in different parts of the city. Knowing this, I decided to challenge myself by visiting all the markets and learning more about them. So, the first part of this trip takes place at the markets of Doce de Octubre (October 12th) and Siete de Agosto (August 7th), located in the locality of Barrios Unidos.
Both markets names refer to two key dates. The first of them, Doce de Octubre (October 12th), commemorates the year of 1492 when Christopher Columbus and his crew disembarked on American lands. This event brought multiple changes to the newly discovered territory, which became a cultural mix, a product of the conquering countries. The second date is Siete de Agosto (August 7th), which commemorates the Battle of Boyacá, an event that guaranteed Colombia’s independence. These two dates are important to understand the name given to the markets in this locality.
The delicious food in Doce de Octubre Market
Christopher Columbus never imagined that centuries later there would be a place that gathers the best of Latin American fruits and vegetables. But the market of Doce de Octubre can offer you more than some of the typical Colombian foods, ranging from traditional broths to the famous fritanga.
Let’s start with a good breakfast in which you can find many options. For example, you could try three different soups: one comprised of potatoes and beef cutlets, a second called “pajarilla,” made with beef kidney and liver, and finally, a fish soup.
Another option is to order eggs with bread and a cup of coffee or orange juice; you can complete it with the traditional arepa, a food made of corn and stuffed with cheese, known for its circular shape. Or if you want to try it all, there is the possibility of having soup, eggs, bread, and coffee or juice, all for the price of $8,000 COP ($3 USD). I recommend visiting the restaurant called “Coma de Paso” that is close to the main entrance of the market and has good quality service.
If you want to have lunch in the market you can try “fritanga,” a dish composed of many elements such as beef, chicken, different types of potatoes, pork sausage, long pork sausage, pork rind, banana, and black pudding. At Doce de Octubre, there is a famous place called “Doña Segunda,” which is a traditional restaurant in Bogotá that was declared a gastronomic heritage site in the city.
Another possibility is to visit the market to buy fruits that vary in colors, dimensions, and taste. It’s a unique experience to talk to sellers to know more about the prices. For instance, I bought a pound of strawberries that cost $4,000 COP ($1.22 USD); the acidic and juicy flavor was totally worth it!
The market of Siete de Agosto and its surroundings
This market is different from the previous one because of the internal organization. You can find rows of different food stalls, selling areas, and of course, a diversity of fruits and vegetables. Another issue that might be new in this place is the herbs that are used for medicinal purposes and for all kinds of spiritual rituals, from cleaning the house to getting a job!
Nevertheless, the activity of the market has expanded to nearby streets where multiple products can be purchased. But the most interesting thing is that you can find all kinds of prices, some more expensive than others, including the new restaurants that have appeared in the surrounding area. Nowadays, there are two: Trattoria de la Plaza and Taperia de la Plaza, which have international food. Additionally, this is an opportunity for these restaurants to be supplied with products from the marketplace.
The future of Doce de Octubre and Siete de Agosto markets
When I visited the markets, there were changes in both places. The reason is that the city is transforming every day and the initial spaces designated for the markets are being redrawn by the district government. For instance, inside the Doce de Octubre market, they are reorganizing the structure of the place by moving the restaurants to the same area and putting the food stalls in rows. Another thing is the new projects, like the gastronomic training center that teaches how to prepare food in a healthy and responsible way.
On the other hand, in the Siete de Agosto market, there is not a noticeable change in the interior of the building, but rather in the neighborhood which is located. As described in the previous section, new restaurants and businesses are emerging and transforming the surroundings of the market. Because of this, I think that it is important to appreciate the original markets as centers of tradition, culture, and exchange, while also accepting the adaptations to the ever-changing city.
In this last section, I want to talk about practical things that you have to take into account when visiting these markets in Bogotá. First, you need to know that both markets are close to each other, so you can walk from one to the other in about 25 minutes. If you are arriving by TransMilenio, you should get off at the “Avenida Chile” station. Another option is arriving in SITP or taking a taxi, UBER, or your own car depending on the time you have. Regarding their hours of operation, both are open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 7:00 am to 4:00 pm and Thursday, Sundays and holidays from 7:00 am to 2:00 pm.
- Doce de Octubre Market – address: Calle 72 # 51-62
- Siete de Agosto Market – address: Carrera 24 # 64-26
Both markets represent spaces of a congregation where you can learn more about the food and traditions of the city. The most interesting thing is that they preserve some of the local traditions while opening the door to the economic and cultural changes in Bogotá.
If you want to read more about markets in Bogotá, you can read part two of this amazing tour here and our article about Paloquemao. Also, you can keep reading other articles about gastronomy, grocery stores and recommended places to eat in Bogotá, which can be found on the website. For more updates, you can follow us on Colture’s social media.