Every time my husband and I go on a trip I plan on us going to at least one antique or flea market. Sometimes the days don’t work out, because as we all know, markets usually take place on specific dates. As it turns out we were in Madrid on the Sunday morning when the El Rastro market was on.
I’m always curious about the kinds of things other countries consider to be “flea market” material. The biggest difference, of course, is in the age of what is being shown.
Furniture ranged everywhere from almost contemporary to pieces that were at least two hundred years old. There was one gorgeous framed mirror that made me wish I wasn’t so adamant about travelling light. It had obviously come from a castle and it was beautifully old – peeling paint and gilding with carving and original “warbly” glass.
There were tons of books (all in Spanish of course) and prints, paintings and bric a brac. One set of parlour furniture was at least from the early 1800’s. Gorgeous, heavily carved, hall chairs and ornate Rococo style tables were shown next to furniture from the 1960’s that would make a lover of modern furniture drool.
There was also a lot of things that show up in all flea markets – Indian brass, broken items, household goods, batteries, and so on.
Of course, this being Spain there were stalls with fans, parasols and mantillas. There is also a huge clothing component to this sale. I overheard some people say they shop for their clothes at El Rastro rather than department stores. I could see why. There were new running shoes, underwear of every type for both men and women, dress shoes, suits and leather jackets. I regret not having bought a perfectly good leather jacket for 20 Euros – about $30 Canadian / American!
There were lots of picture frames hanging from hastily erected posts, and art work placed flat on blankets – some of it very good. China figurines, photo frames, and dishes were sometimes arranged in tidy rows but most of the time they were simply displayed on any available surface.
The market is held next to a lovely park and it takes over several streets in the area. It just so happens that there are also many antique stores on these streets – typically these shops have the nicer pieces.
What did I buy? Actually nothing… ok I bought a fan for my sister in law but this fan was replaced later with a much better quality fan from the Prado Museum gift shop. So now this fan sits next to my Eiffel Tower figurine and my music box from the famous Laduree Bakery in Paris. I guess you can call it a souvenir.