La Ciudadela Handcraft Market, Mexico City
La Ciudadela is a Mexican market specialized in the sale of Mexican handcrafts and folk art. The market, which is open daily, is considered an institution, as it has been helping local artisans to sustain themselves for nearly 50 years.
It is home to over 350 Mexican vendors and here you can find everything from textiles (blankets, tablecloths, and hand-embroidered clothing) to ceramics, plates, cups, and serving dishes. Other items to look for include mirrors, furniture, jewelry and hair accessories, and all manner of small and large handcrafts, including hand-beaded masks. Toys, dolls, and stuffed animals made by hand by artisans from Chiapas are also on offer.
The market is located in the Ciudadela neighborhood, which is in the southwest corner of the historic center of Mexico City. The market and neighborhood are named after a building that was constructed in the late 18th and early 19th century, and influenced the austere architecture of the area. This building was originally meant to be the Real Fábrica de Tabaco, a tobacco factory under the control of the Spanish monarchy, but it was turned into a citadel in 1816, used to imprison rebels and kept its military function into the early 20th century.
The market was established in 1965 as part of preparations for the 1968 Summer Olympics, when the Mexican government convened artisans from all over the country to bring their handcrafts to the city to demonstrate them for the event at the site. The success of this venture led to the construction of a permanent market.
This market is a great way to shop consciously, but be prepared to bargain.