Welcome to my "Rastro" description page, for photos & videos of this site click --> HERE.
Aaaaaahhhhhh! ĦĦĦEl Famoso Rastro!!! See it at least once while in Madrid. You can find ANYTHING from pets to porno! (OK, maybe that was not the best phrase I could have come up with). It used to be a place to find deals on EVERYTHING but now it has become so touristy that there are not many bargains left. I personally buy my blank CDs there.
You can get just about anything you want in the Rastro flea market, but be sure you greet Eloy Gonzalo, the statue in the middle of Cascorro square, or you might leave the market empty handed.
In spite of that saying, leaving empty handed is just about impossible, unless you have iron willpower. Temptation abounds: on the side streets you can find antiques, old clothes, used and new books, plants and paintings; the upper part (mainly around Cascorro square) has handicrafts, leatherwork, jewelry, toys, funky clothes and more.
Only open on Sundays and holidays, the Rastro is usually packed after about 11AM, definitely not a good place for claustrophobics. Also definitely not a place to take anything valuable as clever pickpockets abound and foreigners are a target (keep your cash in a deep deep pocket or moneybelt, no backpacks or purses). Going a little early (10-10.30AM) means you can get your bearings and take a first look without too many people, see salespeople setting up the booths, a different take on the market that many people never see. Then you can go back to the booths you liked best without fighting with people to see everything at every booth. A great place for souvenirs or gifts, and to top off your Sunday, head to the Retiro for street theater or a puppet show.
During the rest of the week, the Rastro has a great neighborhood feel. Long ago, the slaughterhouse and leather tanneries were in this area: the Rastro's main street is Curtidores (leather-workers) and the name Rastro may come from the trail (rastro) of blood left by hauling dead animals. Hills abound in the Rastro area so be ready for a workout, luckily, bars with tapas also abound, including some of the most typical and possibly disconcerting tapas like snails, pig ear and tripe AND seafood like shrimp, razorback clams and gooseneck barnacles.
Before leaving, say good-bye to Eloy Gonzalo in the middle of Cascorro square. Eloy was a soldier-hero, an orphan who grew up in the children's home just a short distance from here. As a soldier during the war for Cuba's independence at the end of the nineteenth century, Eloy offered to set fire to the houses in the town of Cascorro (Cuba) to destroy a potential enemy position. Thanks to the rope tied around his waist, he was dragged back to the Spanish lines still alive, though he died of his injuries some months later. The statue (1902) shows Eloy in full detail, with torch, gas can, rope and a determined look on his face.
Aside from the Rastro, on Sunday mornings there is also a great coin and stamp fair in the Plaza Mayor, you can check it out by clicking HERE.
When: Sunday mornings and holidays from 9am to 3pm but the stands start packing up at 2ish (although they will sell you things even as they are packing up to go).
Getting there: Walk there South through the Plaza Mayor and down the calle Toledo from the Puerta del Sol area or take the Metro (line5.)to the "La Latina" stop, When you exit the Metro just folow the massive sea of people. Again, watch your wallets and pocketbooks! Don't let me scare you, just be careful with your money, cameras, etc...and it will be ok.