After moving into our apartment, we decided it was time to start living life as true Madrileños, and what better way to do that than by spending a Sunday exploring the infamous El Rastro flea market.
Located in the barrio de Embajadores, El Rastro de Madrid is they city’s most famous open-air flea market, and the largest of it’s kind in Europe. Each and every Sunday, Madrileños flock to the area to explore the 3,500 stalls that line the Plaza de Cascorro and Ribera de Curtidores, between Calle Embajadores and the Ronda de Toledo (per Wikipedia). Everything you can imagine is available at El Rastro from antiques and fur coats to souvenirs and selfie sticks.
When we arrived at El Rastro we were met with streets lined with antiques, art and furniture – some good, some bad, but all very interesting. Both Dave and I thoroughly enjoyed browsing the stalls, examine the “treasures” that were laid out. The stall pictured below really caught my eye as the copper pots made it stand out amongst all the wood and books surrounding it (I’m like a crow, attracted to shiny objects).
When we turned the corner and entered the main plaza we were met with a wall of people. Although Lonely Planet had said that Madrileños like to spend their Sundays browsing the market we weren’t prepared for ALL of Madrid to be wandering through the tight street and alleys.
This portion of the market was a lot more modern – think fewer antiques, more selfie sticks and yoga gear. Anything you wanted you could find – from handmade leather purses to jackets to screen print tank tops.
Seriously, El Rastro had it all!
There was a lot of repetition amongst these stalls, but given that the streets were packed it was great–there was no worry if you missed a stall because you knew you could find your treasure again later on down the road (and maybe for a better price!).
Moving around El Rastro was no easy feat. As pictured above, the streets were FULL of people. At best, you were taking tiny steps and it took quite a long time to get from stall to stall. This lack-of-movement gave us the chance to enjoy the many street performers that were set-up and entertaining the crowd. Again, there was something for everyone: from a brass quartet playing 20-style tunes, to acoustic guitarists paying homage to Sublime.
The atmosphere of El Rastro on a Sunday is definitely one we haven’t experienced elsewhere.
To cap off our El Rastro experience, Dave and I finally had a chance to try true Madrid delicacy: the bocadillos des calamares (or, calamari sandwich). It’s pretty self-explanatory and tastes exactly as you’d suspect, and it was delicious! I would never have put those two foods together, but now that I’ve tried one I can totally understand what all the fuss is about!
Although we didn’t buy anything at the market, both Dave and I had a great time exploring, navigating the crowds and enjoying our first Sunday as typical Madrileños.
Have you been to El Rastro? If so, what was your experience?
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