An insider’s guide to Mataró – Maresme’s vibrant capital

Mataró is located on the Maresme coast and is the capital and largest town in the region. Mataró has a bit of everything for everyone, including lengthy shopping streets, ample beaches and a captivating old town. The town’s population is around 130,000 inhabitants in an area of 22 km2.

Here’s the Maresme Connect guide to Mataró from its fascinating history to its diverse food options.

A little bit of history…

Basílica de Santa Maria de Mataró

Basílica de Santa Maria de Mataró

The city is built around the iconic Basílica de Santa Maria. It was originally built on the site of a Roman temple and later became a Gothic building. The base of the bell tower,  designed by the Milanese architect Ercole Torelli in 1675, still survives today. Mataró was born around 80AD when the Roman city of Iluro was founded and now the site of the old town.  Then Iluro was one of the most important cities of Roman Catalonia, until the third century, when the Roman Empire began to decline.

Mataró became a small medieval town, made up of farmers under the rule of the feudal lords of Castell de Mata. It was brought under the authority of Barcelona in the 15th Century when the chains of feudalism were broken.

Despite not having a port at that time, cargo boats unloaded their goods on Mataró’s beaches to avoid the taxes and tariffs imposed by the Port of Barcelona.  Many Mataró locals decided to go to America to make their fortune, seeing maritime trade as a great opportunity. Some  came back very wealthy, and used their money to help drive the Industrial Revolution.

The first railway in Spain was built between Barcelona and Mataró in 1851, demonstrating the historical importance of Mataró as a city for trade and exports. The early textile and knitwear factories took advantage of this and Mataró became one of the most important industrial cities in the country at that time. The textile industry was a point of attraction for people looking for work, a trend that caused the transformation of the city’s appearance through the construction of new working-class neighbourhoods.

Shop, shop, shop…

plaza santa anna

Plaza Santa Anna

There are many different shopping experiences to be had in Mataró and you can also combine some sightseeing whilst shopping, which is why Mataró’s old town is the perfect place to start. In the centre, there are  long pedestrian streets, with plentiful shops ranging from local boutiques and independent shops to chain stores and contemporary markets. While strolling along the streets, you will inevitably come across some of Mataró’s many landmarks such as the Basílica de Santa Maria or the Antiga Presó (old prison).

However, if you’re looking for a more traditional shopping experience, then Mataró Parc is the place to be,  This popular mall offers stores with electronics, home decor, jewellery, toys, a large el Campo supermarket and of course many fashion stores. There is also an abundance of restaurants on the top floor as well as a cinema. Very close to the shopping centre, there is a large Decathlon where you can get anything for your sports endeavours. The best time to go is Spanish lunchtimes (from 2-4pm) when the stores tend to be much emptier.

For some of the best deals and local items, keep an eye out for upcoming Mataró markets. The Plaça de Cuba Market has flowers and vegetables for great prices from Tuesday to Saturday in the morning, through to the afternoon. Additionally, on Saturdays, there are smaller markets throughout the city, making it the perfect day to do some authentic Mataró shopping.

Head to the beach…

Mataró beach

Paddle Boarding and Kayaking at Platja del Varador

As soon as you exit the train station you will spot the blue waters of the Mediterranean, as well as a small port.  Only a few minutes of walking however and you get to Mataró’s most popular beach Platja del Varador. This beach is very family- friendly, with volleyball and football nets set up. There is always a chiringuito in sight to enjoy the day with a cocktail and tapita in hand and feet in the sand.

The next closest beach to the city centre is the Platja de Sant Simó. This is the quieter option and makes for a more relaxing beach experience. Just above the beach, there is a small naturalist area if you want to take a break in the shade.

Street and beach food…

mataró beach

Platja de Sant Simó

Mataró is renowned for its fish & seafood restaurants given its location on the coast. One seafood restaurant we highly recommend is La Marina. Specialising in a variety of fish and seafood such as mussels, clams and squid, this family-run restaurant is located on the seafront offering great views from the terrace. The daily menu is good value at €15 per person, including a choice of three first courses, three-second courses and paella each day, dessert and a drink.

Another outstanding seafood restaurant located right in front of the train station on Mataró’s port is Pez Globo. Characterised by the seasonal, quality and local products, Pez Globo is a gastronomic fusion, with afternoon shows and live music. The restaurant opens its doors to families during the day and creates a more lavish atmosphere in the afternoon/night.

If you’re looking for some traditional Spanish tapas, La Marineta is a great option.  The restaurant has been passed down through generations, and has a convivial ambience. It has different menus depending on the time of day, offers takeaway and even offers catering services for events.

If you’re looking for a luxurious day at the beach, head over to Bululu Chiringuito. Not only does the restaurant offer great meals and cocktails, but there are also lounge chairs for enjoying some time in the sand. In fact, you could spend all day in Bululu since their nighttime scene is just as enjoyable.

Keeping fit and healthy…

In Mataró, there is a main hospital very close to the Mataró Parc, shopping centre. The hospital is equipped with modern equipment and supports both Mataró residents and those living in surrounding areas. The hospital offers a range of services and is the main urgencias (A&E) in the region.

On top of this, there are many private dentists and doctors based in the centre of Mataró. There are centres offering state-of-the-art X-ray and radiography services such as CRM.

And not forgetting, the all important Social Security

For social security and other administrative affairs in Maresme, Mataro’s Sede SegSocial offers online and in-person appointments. Their office in Carrer de Jaume Balmes, 34, 08301 Mataró is open Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 2 pm, while their phone services are open 24/7 Monday to Sunday.

We hope you have enjoyed our guide to Mataró. If you have any information to add feel free to contact us info@maresmeconnect.com

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