3 sept 2014

El Rastro Flea Market, Madrid

The famous La Latina district.
Have you heard of El Rastro? If you’re still looking for reasons to visit Madrid, this market is a reason in itself, and if you’re already in Madrid and haven’t been yet, what are you waiting for?! Not only is El Rastro the largest flea market in the whole of Europe (with up to 3,500 different stalls!), it is also one of the few places where you can find absolutely everything. Ranging from beautiful hand-crafted silver jewellery, to cookware and second hand clothing, you can’t afford to miss it.



1. Where is El Rastro Market and when does it take place?

A traditional Sunday in Madrid:
El Rastro followed by Tapas
with the locals!

El Rastro takes place in the La Latina district (metro line 5, green). Don’t worry about finding the market, you won’t be able to miss the crowds of people coming off the metro; everyone is heading the same way! El Rastro Market happens every Sunday, from about 9am to 3pm, as well as every public holiday. It’s best to arrive fairly early (aim for around 10am), as it gets very, very busy! Why not stop for a break during the market for traditional chocolate con churros in one of the nearby cafés? Or, as La Latina is so famous for its tapas, join the locals for a caña (small drink) and a bite to eat!


2. What makes El Rastro market so special?


Beautiful vintage jewellery at
bargain prices!

The origins of the market date back to the middle ages, so it really is a piece of Madrid’s history. It is thought that the name comes from when all the cattle were transported from Madrid’s abattoir to nearby tanneries, leaving a trail (rastro) of blood on the streets.  The whole district takes part in the market; with stalls spreading through several streets, and many of the antique shops in the area open on Sundays, taking advantage of all the visitors. The ambiance is amazing; the mix of locals rummaging for bargains combined with visitors to Madrid admiring the beauty of the stalls is unbeatable, whatever the time of year. The market gives you a real taste of Spanish culture: you have to see it to believe it!

3.    What’s the best route to see as much of El Rastro as possible?

The crowds at El Rastro
give it an unbeatable

One of the most popular routes is to start at the top in Plaza de Cascorro, and walk down to Plaza de Toledo. In these squares you'll find clothing, books and electrical goods. Antiques lovers can’t afford to miss the side streets and narrow alleys to the right, as that’s where you’ll find the really old antiques and second hand goods. Finally, for most of the art and handicraft, you’ll need to follow the streets on the left. The number of side streets in use will depend on the time of year and how busy the market is. This fabulous printable map of El Rastro market gives you an idea of just how big it is, and helps you plan your route!

All in all, El Rastro is an incredible way to spend a relaxing Sunday.  The fact that it’s loved by locals and tourists alike is proof that this is a market full of gems, and the perfect way to immerse yourself in true Spanish culture, Madrid style!

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