Sunday, July 13, 2014

El Rastro - el mercado famoso!

Today I went to El Rastro - the famous Sunday market in Madrid.  It is in the Lavapies and La Latina neighborhoods on the southeastern side of the city.  The market is huge!  I read on their official site that they cap the number of vendors and stands at 3500.  Check out the walking map below to see exactly how big the market is - the market is the pink sections:


This market has been around for hundreds of years.  This neighborhood has always been home to clothing vendors, slaughterhouses, and leather tanneries.  Over the years, it continued to transform into a commercial marketplace.  The Rastro market as we know it today has been operating on Sunday mornings and afternoons for quite some time now (I can't find the actual year for its more modern functions!).

The market sells anything from handmade paintings to leather goods to clothes to pottery ... to more modern things like iPhone cases and jeans.  Essentially, whatever you are looking for, you can find at El Rastro.

It is very common to bargain down the prices at markets (any market, really). I was able to haggle a bit with some of the items I bought (see photos below). With a little bit of confidence, and of course the right Spanish vocabulary, it can be pretty easy to do. You should always try to bargain - especially if you are buying multiple things from one stand.

As there are lots and lots of people (both madrilenos and tourists) at the market, pick-pocketing is a very common occurrence.  However, with an extra vigilant eye and a hand on your purse/wallet at all times, there shouldn't be any problems.  Check out my photos below for a glimpse into a main part of the market.

An incredible live street band was performing. They had the whole market dancing and grooving!! (see video below)

I bought three things.  The first was this scarf for 2 euros.  Since it was already so cheap, I didn't want to offend them by bargaining. However, if I was buying more than one, than I definitely would have tried. 

I was able to bargain the price of the two beaded strings below.  The original price for each was 5 euros, but I offered the man 8 euros for both, and he accepted my offer.  Yay bargaining!!

So that's it!  The market is lined with cafes and shops, so it is very common to pop into one of the restaurants and grab a quick bite to eat while shopping.  

Here's the official El Rastro website if you are interested in reading more about its history: El Rastro - Official Website

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