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The Rio Cuale Market: Adapting to Tourist Demand

By Tribune Travel

September 06, 2023

The Rio Cuale Market has undergone a remarkable transformation to meet the needs of tourism and has demonstrated its resilience in the face of a hurricane’s fury. With a history dating back to the early 20th century, this market became prominent in the 1960s due to commercial growth in the area. In a historic moment, the current facilities were inaugurated on November 28, 1979, in a ceremony presided over by Governor Flavio Romero de Velasco and Mayor Eugenio Torres Ramírez.


Adaptation to Tourism

Within the market’s bustling corridors, visitors can find a diverse selection of handicrafts, traditional clothing, and jewelry. Behind these offerings lies three decades of effort and tenacity from the market’s vendors, from the pioneers to those who joined over time. They have all successfully adapted to the transformations of this tourist destination while maintaining high-quality products at competitive prices. Visiting this market is an experience in itself.

Rio Cuale Market


Rio Cuale Market, an Architectural Marvel

The architectural project, led by Alejandro Zohn and supervised by architect Carlos Manzano Zepeda, spanned from 1977 to 1979. It aimed to provide a home for vendors who had been operating in the area since the 1960s, along with newcomers who joined the community later. It harks back to the era of “las polleras,” women who served dinners with pozole, chicken gorditas, and café de olla in front of the Plaza de Armas in the mid-20th century. These legendary figures paved the way for the sale of food on the market’s second level.


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Transformation to a Tourist Hub

The Rio Cuale Municipal Market is intertwined with the history of this tourist destination and the changes it has undergone over the years. Originally, it was a traditional supply market, featuring butchers, fishmongers, grocery stores, and fruit stands. However, it gradually transformed into a market with a predominantly tourist focus in the mid-1980s.

Today, it stands as a premier tourist shopping center, offering everything from keychains to decorative products, traditional clothing, and destination-themed T-shirts, as well as a wide range of jewelry items, both on the first and second levels. On the second floor, visitors can also find stalls serving traditional Mexican cuisine, allowing locals and out-of-towners to enjoy breakfasts, set meals, and dinners.

Rio Cuale Market


Inclusivity and Accessibility in the Rio Cuale Market

Despite its tourist orientation, the market always welcomes the local population and visitors from surrounding municipalities. National tourists are given special treatment, offering them quality products at affordable prices, fostering a welcoming atmosphere on both levels of the Rio Cuale Municipal Market.


Hurricane Nora’s Test

It’s worth noting that on the night of August 28, 2021, and into the early morning of August 29, hurricane “Nora” caused damage to the building. As a safety measure, the building was evacuated. After cleanup and necessary inspections, authorities gradually allowed vendors to return, a process that extended until the end of the year. Fortunately, it was determined that the structure had not suffered major damage.

The Rio Cuale Market‘s journey from a traditional supply hub to a vibrant tourist destination showcases its adaptability and resilience. Its ability to withstand the forces of nature, like Hurricane Nora, is a testament to the market’s enduring spirit. Today, it continues to be a must-visit location for both tourists and locals, offering a glimpse into the rich history and culture of the region.


With reporting by Adolfo Torres for Tribuna de la Bahía.





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