Fruit, Feria Libre, Cuenca, Ecuador
Travel

Cuenca’s Seven Acre Market – Feria Libre

“Wherever possible, I like to use home-grown or locally produced ingredients.”
— Mary Berry

Cuenca is a UNESCO World Heritage Trust Site known for its beautiful historic buildings. Ecuador’s third largest city, Cuenca is 2500 meters (8200 feet) high in the Andes mountains. With tourists focused on architecture, it is easy for them to miss what could be a highlight of their trip.

In my opinion, the Feria Libre seven acre market is a must see. People travel from miles around to buy and sell goods. It even has it’s own bus terminal! Buyers know this is where they will find the lowest prices. Entrepreneurs rent space knowing good products will move quickly.

While it is open every day, Saturdays and Wednesdays are the busiest. More people come those days, knowing the most products are available. Vibrant colors and numerous aromas fill the senses from all around.

 

Feria Libre Produce

The produce sections encompass areas surrounding the building exterior as well as large areas within them.

Fruit displayed at Feria Libre Cuenca Ecuador
Neatly arranged produce at an indoor vendor

The vibrant produce colors are eye-catching in every display.

Fruit - Feria Libre Cuenca Ecuador
Vibrant colors at an outdoor vendor

Some vendors specialize in one product, like this potato vendor…

Potato vendor at Feria Libre, Cuenca, Ecuador
Potato vendor

And this banana vendor.

Banana Vendor, Feria Libre, Cuenca, Ecuador
Bananas

Most have a wide variety.

Produce at Feria Libre, Cuenca, Ecuador
Produce everywhere

Feria Libre Flowers

Interspersed throughout the market are flower vendors.

Flowers, Feria Libre, Cuenca, Ecuador
Local woman buying flowers

 

Feria Libre Meat and Seafood

Follow your nose to the meat and seafood, where you will find beef, pork, and poultry areas. All kinds of sausages are for sale. Fresh fish from local streams and seafood driven up from the coast are available. The seafood was surprisingly priced almost the same as on the coast, without a large mark-up due to transportation costs.

Seafood, Feria Libre, Cuenca, Ecuador
Fresh fish and seafood

 

Feria Libre Live Animals for Sale

An outdoor section hosts live animals for sale. They include chickens, guinea pigs, crabs, bunnies, puppies, kittens and parrots. The chickens pictured below lay colorful eggs (inset), which the vendor had for sale as well.

Live chickens, Feria Libre, Cuenca, Ecuador
Chickens and their eggs, both for sale

Live crabs from the coast are sold near the outdoor live animal area, not the indoor seafood area.

Live crabs, Feria Libre, Cuenca, Ecuador
Live crabs for sale

I almost don’t want to tell you that guinea pigs are not pets in Ecuador. They are food. I have not tried them. The puppies, kittens, and parrots ARE pets.

Guinea pigs, Feria Libre, Cuenca, Ecuador
Guinea pigs for sale

 

Feria Libre Legumes and More

Back inside, many bulk products are for sale including spices, beans, grains, and corns. Cooking oils, honey, flour, sugars, coffee, and chocolate.

Dry goods, Feria Libre, Cuenca, Ecuador
Various corns and beans

Several types of homemade pastas are available.

Bulk pasta, Feria Libre, Cuenca, Ecuador
Bulk pasta

Another huge section has household goods, clothing, and shoes. Haircuts are also provided near this area.

Clothing, cookware, Feria Libre, Cuenca, Ecuador
Clothing, cookware, plastics, shoes

Woven baskets, fans, and shopping bags are mixed with wooden utensils and pottery since this vendor sells them all.

Cooking utensils, Feria Libre, Cuenca, Ecuador
It is not easy keeping baskets neatly displayed

If one needs some nourishment, there are food counters with a variety of soups, juices and quick foods.

Food counter, Feria Libre, Cuenca, Ecuador
Food counter

 

Near the main entrance / exit, many vendors call out the price for the items they are currently carrying. Heard on this day: “five avocados, one dollar” and “three tomatoes, fifty cents.”

 

Tomato vendor, Feria Libre, Cuenca, Ecuador
Tomato vendor in center of photo

Exit into the parking lot and find vendors selling baskets of items that you might have missed inside.

Feria Libre parking lot vendors, Cuenca, Ecuador
Feria Libre parking lot vendors

Many people come to Cuenca for the historic architecture. I recommend a trip to Feria Libre as well.

Is there a local market near you where entrepreneurs sell their products?

 

Read more Emily in Ecuador posts about Cuenca.

Emily is a US Expat in Ecuador. She grew up on a Minnesota farm, worked in IT in California's Silicon Valley, then moved to a coastal Ecuador fishing village. Emily's goal is to share Ecuador with you, one snippet at a time. Topics include attractions, compassion, ecotourism, Ecuador products, everyday Ecuador, and flora and fauna. Please let Emily know what you would like to read more about!

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