In this week’s When in Spain episode I take us on a wander around El Rastro, Madrid’s sprawling outdoor market where you can find almost anything. Whether visiting as a tourist or living in the Spanish capital, El Rastro flea market is a must-see and is one of the most castizo things you can experience in the city.
Whether visiting as a tourist or living in the Spanish capital, El Rastro flea market is a must-see. I survey what’s on offer at the weekly market, from antiques, to denim jackets, to plastic dolls and pots and pans, the Rastro almost has it all. Even the largest collection of rubber bands you’ve ever seen.
Taking in the sounds of traders, live music, bird whistles and music boxes, I trace the market’s 400 year history. I look at how a royal decree banished traders from the centre to set up their stalls in La Latina neighbourhood and how Madrid’s riverside slaughterhouses helped give the market its bloody name.
“The Rastro’s vendors are a heterogeneous lot, but those in antiques shops are likely to be world weary and half blinded by their own cigarette smoke. Sage and canny, they assess the quality of the potential client even before the latter has evaluated the merchandise.”
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