It is a market that might seem overwhelming, but it you allow yourself to go and listen to the music of the voices, you will enjoy the morning
On a sunny autumn Sunday Rusko decided to explore El Rastro in Madrid. Rusko took the metro to La Latina and followed the literal wave of people to the hill full of booths and people. El Rastro is an open air market that began in the year 1740 as a space to sell second hand clothing in the lower classes. At the time it was located near the slaughterhouse (near Puerta de Toledo) and this is how the market got its name because the “rastro” is another way to say the place where animals are killed by meat mongers because of the mark or “rastro” that they leave behind.
The market has grown over the years and now the maximum number of booths permited is 3.500. It is open on Sundays and holidays year round from 9:00 to 15:00h. in the neighborhood of Embajadores. It extends from the Plaza de Cascorro at the monument of Eloy Gonzalo to Ribera de Curtidores street and the Plaza de Campillo del Mundo Nuevo in the south.
The first thing that Rusko noticed about el Rastro was the wide variety of people that were looking around in the different booths. There were tourists, students, madrilènes, Europeans, Americans, Japanese. Everyone was looking for their treasure at the cheapest price. Rusko had thought ahead because he didn´t want to spend much money and decided to leave his wallet at home along with his credit cards. He only took 5 euros in his pocket. It´s important to note that El Rastro is famous for its pick pockets and theft. You don´t need to be afraid, but it’s good to keep your eyes open.
The stands have everything you can think of- scarves, necklaces, earrings, plastic tubes, locks, stamps, paintings, rocks, crystals, bras, books, lipstick and nail polish, hair pieces, chocolate covered “barquillo” (like a cookie cone) to eat, stands with fried dough and chocolate, pins, tee shirts, watches, toys and more.
It is definitely the place to find almost anything you are looking for. The vendors also shout their prices out loud so that you come and look at their stand. Rusko has to admit that he couldn´t resist spending 3 euros on a scarf that was perfect for the fall.
What Rusko liked best about the Rastro was the opportunity to watch all the people and the environment that comes from all the haggling and looking. There was something about the moment of finding something that you´ve been searching for, or finding the perfect gift…(or something for you) that is just full of life.
It is a market that might seem overwhelming at first with the amount of people and the constant movement, but it you allow yourself to go with the flow and look at the colors, listen to the music of the voices and if you are really lucky, enjoy an autumn morning with the leaves changing color, it is well worth battling the crowds. We Ruskomend a visit (but take care with your wallet) with 5 boquerones.