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El Rastro, a large open-air market in Madrid

El Rastro is a popular open-air market in the capital city of Spain and considered as a Cultural Heritage for the locals. In fact, there is no other market quite as successful as El Rastro because it is the most emblematic city market. With over 400 years of history and a well-deserved international reputation, El Rastro is often compared with other famous European markets in London, Amsterdam, or Rome. 

The history of this market goes all the way back to 1496 when it was set up in Madrid's historic centre called “matadero viejo" (the old slaughterhouse). This market was actually named after the trail of blood that was left by the slaughtered cattle as they left the slaughter house. 

However, the first mention of an open-air market, which occupies the sidewalks of the Ribera de Curtidores, goes back to 1740. A meeting place was set up and intended for selling, exchanging or trading all kinds of used clothing. Since then, this huge market has continued to grow, even causing urban transformations throughout the city. This is because in 1905, a block of houses that were popularly known as the “tapón del Rastro” were demolished and in 1928, the slaughterhouse moved its location to Municipal slaughterhouse of Legazpi.

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Photo: © Gonzalo Malpartida (Flickr)

As per the municipal rules, El Rastro is open every Sunday and public holidays, from 9 in the morning to 3 in the afternoon. No less than 3500 stalls cover the premises from la Plaza de Cascorro extending all the way to the Eloy Gonzalo statue (the heroic Spanish soldier) on the northern border, the riverside of Tanners through Embajadores Street and Ronda de Toledo, along with Campillo del Mundo Nuevo Plaza in the south. 

According to traditions, El Rastro comprises of diverse cultures that brings together people from different parts of the world and different ethnic groups who are looking for bargains. If you want to sample the gastronomic delights of the capital city or just enjoy its lively atmosphere, consider visiting El Rastro market. This traditional open-air market has many items such as antiques that you won't find in shops or department stores. Some other rare items that are for sale in this market include scrap metal, jewelery, paintings, ceramics, plants, tools, clothing, books, musical instruments, hats, silverware, spare parts, shoes, lingerie, albums, trading cards, hand-crafted items, and cameras ... There are literally hundreds of items for sale including pet food. This is the place to have fun and spend your Sunday afternoon hunting for bargains. 

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