23 Feb A Sunday morning at El Rastro
We already had the chance to mention that Madrilenians use to spend much of their free time on the street, surrounded by friends, whether in a fashionable district such as Malasaña or in the most traditional Madrid of the Habsburg. But the moment of the week that best defines Madrid street life, is Sunday morning at Madrid Rastro market.
All around Ribera de Curtidores street, approaching Lavapiés, you will find all those people who didn’t go out on Saturday night or those who had enough energy to get up after having been drinking until a few hours before. They all meet there at late morning.
Specifically the Rastro is a market selling antiques, second-hand objects of all kinds or clothing, but in this place you can find absolutely everything and nothing is disposable. Its name (meaning “trace”) comes from when in the past that street was the path between the slaughterhouse and the tanneries. The market took the name from the traces of blood left by the animals’ skins.
In those same streets appeared clandestine stalls of second-hand clothes that wouldn’t become an organized market until 1740. Today more than 3,000 stalls are registered and hundreds of people can’t miss the weekly appointment.
Despite the apparent chaos, there’s a planning, in fact we come across a series of thematic stalls that arise with a certain order. For example Ceferino González street or Calle de los Pájaros were previously dedicated to the ambulant sale of animals (now only allowed in the established shops), Calle de San Cayetano is the street of the painters and Plaza del Cascorro is for second-hand clothes. Thus we can also find areas dedicated to the sale of books, music or magazines and much more.
You’d better go from 9 o’clock if your intention is to buy something quietly avoiding the hustle and bustle. You will find the stalls at your disposal to make a unique find among antiques or buy in a bargain a second hand garment that you would have found much more expensive in a common store.
From midday there’s another category of people: those who do not have much intention to buy, but to browse through everything that is for sale. They prefer enjoying the atmosphere of the place and regain strength during “the vermouth hour” – the previous moment to the proper lunch, ideal for drinking something accompanied by some tapas. It is typical to take some beer or, opting for the most traditional drink, a vermouth, standing behind the bar top in one of the numerous bars before going back home when the morning ends.
Our recommendation, although unpleasant, is that while walking in the streets of the market you pay attention to your valuables like wallets or mobiles, in order to avoid any theft (without wanting to generate alarms, in any place with large crowds of people there is this possibility).
From Spaneasy, if you haven’t seen the Rastro yet, we recommend it absolutely, for being one the most authentic sides of Madrid. If you have already been there, don’t forget to tell us if you found any antique or second-hand object. See you there!