Gastasuelas Virtually all life living in Madrid and we had not yet written anything about the city that saw us born. But, as they say, it’s never too late if happiness is good and that’s why we premiere with an article about one of our favorite places in the capital.
View on the Gran Vía of Madrid The Rastro de Madrid is the most famous flea market in Spain and, possibly, one of the largest and most unique in Europe. An open-air market spread among some of the most authentic streets of old Madrid, in the neighborhood of Lavapiés. A traditional neighborhood that, without a doubt, constitutes an incomparable setting that makes Madrid’s Rastro a truly unique market. Every Sunday morning and festive thousands of more or less improvised stalls are installed in the middle of the street to sell second-hand objects of all kinds, together with the shops and stores of the neighborhood. The Rastro gives value to many things that others previously rejected or failed to value enough to keep them in property. Paintings, books, trading cards, furniture, clothes and a host of old and curious objects can be found at ground level or presented to the free will in each street stall.
Objects for sale in El Rastro de Madrid Such uniqueness makes the Rastro congregate every weekend hundreds of people walking through its streets, between posts and posts, in search of some “treasure” at a good price or, simply, snooping and walking to spend the morning in the company of relatives or friends. In short, if you travel to Madrid, the Rastro represents a must to visit one of the most authentic, traditional and lively places in the capital of Spain. Therefore, below, we recommend what to see and do in a visit to Madrid’s Flea Market.
Plaza de Cascorro
First of all, a clarification for the curious. The historical character of the statue that presides over this square is not called Cascorro, it is Eloy González . A Spanish soldier who defended the Cuban town of Cascorro during the War of Cuba . Reason why he is known as Cascorro Hero . The square can be considered the gateway to the Rastro on its north side and, from the beginning, as you access it you can have an idea of the hustle and bustle that we will find throughout the market. When located in the highest part of its route, it allows to see the size of the Trail if one looks towards the Ribera de Curtidores street (downhill). Sale of second hand items in Lavapiés (Madrid) In the same square you can already see many stalls, mainly the stalls of new clothes and not as many second-hand objects as in the origins of the Rastro. Since in recent times the stalls selling cheap clothes and “modern” items have eaten space to the traditional of all life. But only because of the atmosphere that moves in the square is worth getting carried away by the flow of people going up and down from one place to another.
Ribera de Curtidores Street
It is the main street of the Rastro and in which greater concentration of posts and people can be found. It was founded several centuries ago this popular market and it came out the name of El Rastro. What is said comes from the trail (trail) of blood that left in the street the transit of slaughtered cattle in the slaughterhouse that existed in the lower part of the city. Because of the presence of the slaughterhouse in this location, many leather workers settled in this street and hence its name.
Stall of used toys in the Rastro (Madrid) The steep street is flooded with street vendors, which also predominate clothes and cheap objects first-hand. But there is still some store selling products made of leather, furniture and antiques. In the days of good weather, when you get to this street, it is better to let yourself be carried away by the tide of people passing through this main artery of the Rastro than to try to go against the current. That’s why it’s not a good idea to cross over it if you’re in a hurry.
Carlos Arniches Street
It is a parallel street to Curtidores, on your right as we descend towards the Manzanares River, and in it you can still see the most authentic Rastro . It is our favorite part of the market, just for that reason, because the essence of the old Rastro still remains in this street. We recommend not to miss it. El Rastro in Carlos Arniches street (Madrid) Books and second-hand discs, old containers, paintings, old photo cameras, fossils and a host of other curios and antiques can be found in the stalls and stores of this street. Old photo cameras for sale in El Rastro (Madrid)
San Cayetano Street
In this small street, perpendicular to Curtidores, it is mainly dedicated to the sale of paintings , frames and painting elements. Painting post in El Rastro de Lavapiés (Madrid)
Fray Ceferino González Street
Formerly on this street, just below San Cayetano, the trill of birds was heard and the cages for their breeding occupied a large part of the space. It sold goldfinches, canaries, parakeets, birdseed, cages and all kinds of accessories for birds, but animal protection regulations banned the sale of birds in the late nineties. So now pets are no longer sold, but all kinds of products for them.
Sale of second hand objects in El Rastro (Madrid)
Plaza Campillo Nuevo Mundo
Going down Carlos Arniches Street, we come to this square, whose singularity lies in the fact that people of all ages approach it to change the chromos of collections of all types. Young and not so young look in this square for the stickers they need to complete their football collections, comics or series of favorite drawings. It is not uncommon to see parents looking for the chrome that the son is missing to complete his football league album or Disney characters. Second hand objects in El Rastro (Madrid) Visiting this square is like going back to the schoolyard and reliving the art of searching, finding and negotiating for a good chrome. Sile..nole..sile … nole … Do you remember?
Two important tips to keep in mind when you visit El Rastro: – Always try to haggle the price when buying one of the many second-hand items that are offered in the stands. It is true that not all sellers accept it, but you should always try to lower the initial sale price. Nothing is lost and it contributes to maintaining an old custom. – You must always have your belongings checked, especially bags and wallets. Because, taking advantage of the tumult of people, there are always friends of others who try to take advantage of the carelessness of visitors.
Eat or drink something
Another attraction of the Rastro is the possibility of taking something among the many bars that are in its surroundings. Many people are encouraged to do so and that is why it is not uncommon to find more than one or one who, stretching out the night, come here to continue the fun of the weekend. But most mortals take advantage of the visit to the Rastro to, simply, get together to drink some beer with the appetizer or, directly, go to eat around after visiting the market. Among all the possibilities to eat or drink in the area we recommend four especially:
- Casa Amadeo (Los Caracoles) – A bar of a lifetime, located at 18 de la Plaza de Cascorro, which offers traditional tapas and raciones de Madrid. But their star ration is the snails with torreznos (€ 12).
- Ration of snails with torreznos in Cascorro (Madrid)
- Malacatín – Restaurant located also near Cascorro (Calle de la Ruda, 5), ideal to enjoy one of the typical dishes of Madrid cuisine, the Chickpea stew (€ 20).
- El Capricho Extremeño – A bar located at the end of Calle Carlos Arniches (nº 30) very popular and frequented the days of Rastro, thanks to its strong and economic assorted tostas (€ 3). Such is their success that there is usually a queue to ask for.
- Bar Rivas – It is located at number 5 Plaza General Vara de Rey and for about € 3 offer good and typical calamari sandwiches to take away, in addition to various rations.
These are just some examples, but there are many more recommended places to eat or drink. Either in the neighborhood of Lavapiés or in the neighboring district of La Latina .
Few places offer as much diversity to find bed as does the capital of Spain. Whether you prefer a luxury hotel in Madrid or if you opt for a cheaper alternative in the center or around the capital, there is such a diversity of options that it is impossible not to find one that fits the pocket of each one. Having also the advantage of having a large public transport network that can take you to any point of the capital in a short time, avoiding the typical disorders of the private vehicle. For this reason, to approach the Rastro, it is not necessary to stay in its vicinity . In Madrid everything is close … by public transport, of course.
How to get
As we have just said, the easiest way to get there is by public transport and in particular by Metro . The nearest stop is La Latina ( L5 – green ), which is next to Plaza de Cascorro. and it is a good starting point to walk the Rastro. There are other stops a little further away and in the lower part of the Rastro, such as Puerta de Toledo (L5), Acacias (L5) or Embajadores (L3), which can also be an alternative to approach or leave the Rastro. Another public transport alternative would be the train and its Cercanías network . An interesting option if you come from the outskirts of Madrid. In this sense, the stations of Embajadores (C3) and Pirámides (C1 – C10) are the closest to the vicinity of the Rastro. Finally, we were not going to ignore the possibility of arriving by spending soles to the Rastro. So, for this, a good starting point could be the Puerta del Sol (l1, L2, L3, C3 and C4). From the famous square in Madrid, if we cross the Plaza Mayor and continue along the Calle de Toledo and the Calle de los Estudios , we have a pleasant walk less than 20 minutes to El Rastro.