Sunday in Madrid means one thing and one thing only: El Rastro. This huge flea market not only is the biggest one in Madrid but also in Europe and it is a must see if you decide to visit our beautiful city. Whether you are into antiquities, trinkets, vintage clothing or into something else, you will have a lot of fun walking around this market and discovering its many hidden treasures.
Sunday in Madrid means one thing and one thing only: El Rastro.
This huge flea market not only is the biggest one in Madrid but also in Europe and it is a must see if you decide to visit our beautiful city. Whether you are into antiquities, trinkets, vintage clothing or into something else, you will have a lot of fun walking around this market and discovering its many hidden treasures.
The origins of El Rastro go way back! It was established around the year 1496 in the vicinity of the “matadero Viejo” (old slaughter house) next to Plaza Cascorro. Originally the market was supplied by gypsies from the southern provinces of Spain who brought in antiques and jewelry and bargained with dealers on weekday mornings, quickly attracting more and more citizens who came on the weekends to do some shopping.
From those days, El Rastro is held every Sunday and public holiday during the year and is located along Plaza de Cascorro and Ribera de Curtidores, between Calle Embajadores and the Ronda de Toledo (just south of La Latina metro station). Although some people think it has lost a bit of its original essence it still attracts hundreds of people every week.
So, how to “do” El Rastro properly?
We suggest you to start from the beautiful Plaza Mayor, so that you can begin your route without missing a stall, and from there going slowly down hill. You will end up in Ribera deCurtidores, probably the main street of the market. This part is still a little touristic, so we advise you to get closer to Plaza Cascorro and from there enter Plaza de Vara de Rey, a square famous for its antiquities of all kinds and a perfect resume of what this market is all about.
The key word? Search, search and search some more until you find a unique object to bring back home!
There are not only stalls in this plaza but also shops, which usually are worth entering and take a look at (our favorite is “Olofane”, make sure you check it out). Another interesting part of the market is Calle de Mira el Rio Alta and Calle Bastero, where you can find “La Tapicera”, a very interesting upholstery shop and, according to us, a little gem. (http://latapicera.com/web)
Two other unmissable spots are the “Nuveas Galerias”, a beautiful patio surrounded by unique shops selling anything from lamps to old furniture (tourists tend to avoid it, maybe because it can get a little pricy) and “La Galeria Piquer” a two storey building with some very peculiar curiosities for your household and garden, that you might not be able to bring back home but you will for sure have fun looking at.
But the real magic of El Rastro, its true soul, it’s hidden in Plaza del Campillo del Mundo Nuevo, colloquially called plaza de los cromos (a cromo is a sticker), and the perfect place where to buy and sell magazines, trade cards and stamps, posters, old vhs… A frequent sight in this area is young children swapping and trading with each other, shouting “sipi/nopi” (“I want it”/”already have it”).
So, to sum it up what can you find at El Rastro and where?
– Stalls around Plaza de General Vara del Rey: antiquities and furnitures
– Plaza de Campillo del Mundo Nuevo specialises in buying and selling magazines, trading cards and stamps
– Calle Carnero and Calle Carlos Arniches are where bouquinistas sell old, rare and collectible books
– The Plaza de Cascorro specialises in selling funky clothing and accessories
– Calle San Cayetano is also known as “Calle de los Pintores” (‘street of the Painters’) as its permanent stalls sell paintings and drawings and art supplies
And after shopping?
So, you’ve got your hands full of super cool and unique stuff, vinyl records, vintage sweaters and books, where do you go next?
You can either head to “La Tabacalera”, a collective cultural space located in CalleEmbajadores, just few minutes from the hearts of the Rastro (for more info check our blog entry number 4 https://www.mad4youhostel.com/es/node/127) or to el “Matadero” a huge former slaughterhouse which has been converted to a beautiful arts centre in the Legazpi area, just in the same line (number 3, yellow) of Lavapies and Embajadores; they both have a big open air space where you can sit, have a beer and enjoy the sun on a Madrilenian Sunday afternoon.
After that the plan is definitely heading “de cañas y tapas” at La Latina (again we suggest you check out our blog entrance number 4 link for more info about this neighbourhood https://www.mad4youhostel.com/es/node/127); spoiler alert, each and every bar is going to be packed with people, so be prepare for some crowded lunches 🙂
Since this market is a pillar of the history of this city, also its bars and restaurant are diehard traditional and authentic: check out “Casa Amadeo” (Plaza Cascorro,18) and try its famous “caracoles” (snails), delicious since 1942.
Want to try a perfectly poured, cold Mahou (Madrid’s signature beer)? Then head to “Cerveceria Arganzuela” (Calle Arganzuela,3 ) “barrio atmosphere”, best “boquerones” – fresh anchovies- on the planet and fair prices: as Spanish as it can get.
Also worth mentioning the “El Capricho Extremeno” (Calle de Carlos Arniche, 30), known for its “tostas” and the sangria and the “Bar Plaza” (plaza Vala del Rey) that serves pretty good “sardinas” and it’s a little bit more hidden behind the clothes stands (this means a little less crowded, but still a little nice spot).
If you are looking for something more “botellon style” (drinking on the street), a good plan could be heading to el Mercado de la Cebada (plaza de la Cebada) where, if you are lucky enough, you can catch free concerts trough the whole afternoon or just head to one of the many many many “garritos” (bars, like small clubs) of La Latina, where you can start having drinks and dance (or bounce your head to the beat) from the early afternoon. The most happening spot is of course, Calle Cava Baja and (part of) Cava Alta, plaza Humilladero and Calle Don Pedro.
In conclusion, El Rastro is a big deal for both Madrilenians and others, it is more than a vintage market, it is a tradition, it is a way of experiencing the city at its fullest, it is the essence of a Sunday in this city. You will understand this when you will see a whole neighborhood packed with people, sharing a laugh, a beer, some quick delicious food, strolling around market stands under the sun and just enjoying the best day of the week.
So, this is how we spend our domingos in Madrid, and if you have any questions about Mad4You Hostel, what to do in Madrid or anything else please send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on 0034 915 217 549.
We send you our biggest hug from an always sunny Madrid,
The Mad4You Hostel Team!