On a Sunday in Madrid, there’s only one place to be.
The El Rastro Flea market.
Since the 15th century, the El Rastro neighborhood has been famous for the trade of second hand items. The market starts at 9, and by 11 the streets are teeming with people.
I started at the Plaza General Vera del Rey. Vendors have their goods set up in the plaza on various surfaces, including the ground.
I was very impressed by the neat and tidy organization of objects that were on blankets on the ground.
I’m always amused by the objects that end up together unintentionally – like this nun figurine next to a box of Hollywood star trading cards. . .
. . . and the bright blue toy car that somehow landed with the rusted antique tools.
Then there’s always the oddball finds whose stories I would love to know.
Baby Jesus – playing with his foot?
How did this 1902 photograph, of a little girl holding rabbits, from Bennington, Vermont find its way to Madrid?
I wonder how this engraved silver dish from Juanjo and Teresa’s 1994 wedding ended up in the flea market.
This scary brass cat holding shot glasses in its bow could only have come out of the home of an eccentric individual.
A vendor demonstrated the benefits of the leather briefcase he was selling – judging by the pile, briefcases are his specialty.
Another vendor sold only cameras.
I was intrigued by this curved door.
When I saw the other side I was even more curious about it. The surface was pierced with shell fragments.
I loved this painting leaning against a tree, but it didn’t fit my current size and price requirements for flea market purchases, so I had to settle with a photo.
The cobbled lanes leading off the plaza, are lined with more antique vendors, as well as jam-packed stores.
I discovered an easel set up in the back of one store, where the dealer retouches and restores old paintings.
There’s always “style moments” in flea markets, like these old books tied up with twine and piled in a heap. . .
. . . and these red velvet chairs standing at attention like soldiers.
The narrow streets became more and more crowded as the day progressed.
I stopped at a café, with the quirky name La Cabra en el Tejado (“The Goat on the Roof”), for a crepe and a coffee. The perfect treat for a shopping break.
A trio of horn players, who called themselves the “Sex Pistons,” kept the masses entertained.
A comic book vendor picked up his guitar and sang for me.
I wondered what this group was examining in the street.
A man had picked a ring out of a collection of odds and ends – plastic toys, stray electronic chargers, cheap watches, and random trinkets. Had he really found something of value in this assemblage?
On another street, a woman dug for treasure in this intimidating pile.
If you’re like me, the time passes quickly. Suddenly, the day is done, and the crowds disburse, carrying their flea market finds in hand.
La Cabra en el Tejado
Calle Santa Ana,13.