This may sound like heresy, but Madrid’s famous flea market is not what it was. Every Sunday, El Rastro sprawls across a roughly triangular district of streets and plazas a few minutes’ walk south of Plaza Mayor. Its spine is the Ribera de Curtidores (Tanners’ Way) and there are still some interesting shops here selling equestrian gear and leather offcuts. But the market itself is full of cheap imported T-shirts, bags, and fake sports team jerseys of the kind you’ll find in any city market in Europe. Policemen patrol to check that the stall keepers’ permits are in order. The side streets and squares are more interesting—if you want to buy a bird cage, pet supplies, or cobbler’s materials, this is the place to come. Good bric-a-brac is harder to find. The optimistically named Calle Mira el Sol and Plaza del Campillo del Mundo Nuevo are the best places for junk, with vinyl records, vintage soda bottles, and old weights and scales, but there’s not much joy in it, and few bargains. It is nevertheless worth a visit to El Rastro to join the wandering crowds, and worth getting there early. Stop for a good-value breakfast at the French bakery Pan Adoré, at Plaza de Cascorro, 20, where the staff wear blue and white striped sweaters. For better bric-a-brac, creative and original stalls, and more fun, head to Mercado de Motores.
Plaza de Cascorro and Ribera de Curtidores
Our Rating Hours Sun 8am–3pm Transportation Metro: La Latina. Bus: 3 or 17. Web site El Rastro
MapPlaza de Cascorro and Ribera de Curtidores Madrid
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