El Rastro is a street market located in Madrid with more than 400 years of history where you can find different objects, some older and others more modern. It is located around the Ribera de Curtidores, a slope where you can find a lot of stalls offering different kinds of things, such as traditional and vintage clothes, furniture, toys, music records, jewellery, and other more peculiar objects that will surprise you.
It is a very fun outdoor plan that you can do with friends, family or if you prefer, you can go on your own. You can go to the Rastro on Sundays and public holidays, when it is open. On both sides of the street where it is located you will also find a wide variety of shops, typical bars and traditional restaurants of all styles.
The origins of the Rastro in Madrid
The Rastro has a curious origin, especially the area in which it is located. It was an old place where the tanneries were located, that is to say, a workshop where the skins were tanned and worked, and which were very close to the slaughterhouse. The meaning of the street market comes from the fact that, during the transfer of the cattle to the tanneries, a “trail” of blood was left, and for this reason, it began to be given the name of the famous street market of the Rastro.
As time went by, other trades came to this area, such as booksellers, second-hand goods traders and antique sellers. At the beginning of the 18th century, people started to come to this area to look for different antique and original objects, which are still there today.
What can we find in the Rastro in Madrid?
As mentioned above, in the Rastro you can find an infinite number of very different objects. You will be able to discover the great amount of unusual items that are difficult to find in regular shops, such as vintage furniture, antiques, second-hand books, shoes, jewellery… and many other things. The best thing to do is to walk around and see all the stalls, although we warn you, there are more than 1000 sellers, so you will have to dedicate a whole morning to discover them all.
Although there is no fixed organisation, the stalls are usually grouped according to the type of object they sell. For example, in the Plaza del General Vara de Rey you will find a large number of stalls selling second-hand clothes, while in the streets of Carnero and Carlos Arniches they sell antique or collector’s books. The dynamic of this market is the traditional buying and selling of a street market, but it is possible to haggle over the price in some cases.
Where is the Rastro located?
The Rastro is in the Barrio de la Latina, and extends from Plaza del Cascorro to Embajadores Street. The easiest way to get there is by public transport, as it is always full of people and we don’t recommend going by car as there is usually no parking space. By metro you can go to the Embajadores, Tirso de Molina or La Latina stops, the latter being the closest. If you prefer to walk, it is also possible, as you can walk from the centre of Madrid and at the same time, you will surely be able to see some of the most emblematic places in the city.