A tour around the five most famous antiques markets in Spain
Because of their stories, their atmosphere, but especially because of their oddities, flea markets have something special that attracts both locals and tourists, where you will find objects that cannot be found in most antique shops in Barcelona, Madrid or other Spanish cities.
For those who usually visit them weekly as if it were a liturgy, and for those who do not want to miss a chance and are always looking for anything among their small stands, here we offer you a short list of some of the most charming flea markets in Spain, where you will find the most unique antiques.
- El Rastro, Madrid
It has more than 400 years of history, and every Sunday and holiday, whether it’s sunny or rainy or windy, Madrid’s street Ribera de los Curtidores, in the popular neighbourhood of La Latina, gets full of stands and curious people looking for… anything, basically. Second-hand clothes, toys, paintings, all kinds of antique furniture, plugs, cameras, antique jewellery, Belter singles, books, films, magazines, stickers, or even a Prussian helmet. In short, all kinds of gadgets you could imagine.
A special feature of this street market is its organization, since you will find specialized streets, as if it were a supermarket. For example, Carnero Street and Carlos Arniches Street are specialized in selling antique books, and San Cayetano Street in paintings and painting materials. A very interesting alternative to Madrid’s art auction houses.
- Where: Ribera de Curtidores. Madrid.
- When: Every Sunday and holiday morning.
2. Els Encants, Barcelona
Els Encants is essentially the most important antiques market in Barcelona and the most active in Europe. It is also one of the oldest in the continent, as its origins date back to the 14th Century. However, its original purpose was very different from today’s, as in the beginning it was the place where properties of the deceased were auctioned to pay off the debts they had incurred during their lifetime; what was left over belonged to the widows.
As for the items sold, it is very similar to the above mentioned market. Here you will find unique objects, such as antique lamps, vintage clothes, books, tech stuff, antique jewellery and, of course, antique furniture. Furthermore, many of the articles used to decorate houses of well-known decoration magazines, such as AD, were purchased here. Els Encants is also one of the benchmarks for numismatics and stamp collecting lovers and collectors.
Since 2014, it boasts a splendid gilt roof, which for some is itself a good reason to walk around their posts looking at the ceiling. But don’t get distracted, because there is so much more to see on the floor level. It is certainly not less important than any antiques shop in Barcelona.
- Where: Castillejos Street, next to Les Glories Catalanes square (near Agbar Tower).
- When: Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, from 9 am to 8 pm.
3. Mercadillo El Jueves, Seville
This other street bazaar has a long tradition. It is held every Thursday in Feria de Sevilla street and it is the oldest flea market in Seville, dating back to the 13th Century, after the conquest of the city by King Ferdinand III of Castile.
At that time, there were always craftsmen and trade stands offering their products. Today, it boasts some of the most extravagant and unpredictable antiques and all sorts of second-hand items, such as antique jewellery, books, bicycles, bronze items, antique furniture, musical instruments, porcelain figures, hand-embroidered table linen, oil paintings, old pocket watches, tools, postcards, Feria posters, and flamenco or wedding dresses, all of which can be found at its more than 100 stands, at very low and affordable prices and, of course, open to the haggling ritual.
- Where: In the Old Town, along Feria Street.
- When: Every Thursday (except Holy Thursday) from 7 am to 3 pm.
4. El Rastro, Fuengirola
We could say that the Rastro of Fuengirola is the most important flea market of second hand objects, crafts and antiques in Costa del Sol. Unlike the previous ones, its origin dates back to about 25 years ago, and it arose from the initiative of some foreign residents who were in love with marchés aux puces, mercadillos, mercats dels encants or, in other words, the second-hand markets all over Europe.
As in the other flea markets, you will find a wide range of articles distributed among its more than 200 stands: golf balls -a best seller in the Rastro-, cowbells, antique and vintage objects, old pocket watches, analogue cameras, toys and dolls, period furniture, especially from the 19th and 20th centuries, lamps, and even a stand specialized in selling Playmobil pieces.
- Where: Méndez Núñez street in Fuengirola.
- When: Every Sunday, from 9 am to 2 pm.
5. Desembalaje Asturias (Gijón)
Rather than an antiques flea market, Desembalaje Asturias is one of the most important and largest antiques fairs in Spain, held during the Principality’s Fair.
Currently, there have been a total of 19 editions. Every year, more than 80 exhibitors from all regions of Spain and from Portugal, France, Germany and Great Britain exhibit their items: the only requirement is that they must be at least 40 years old.
Just like any other fair, it also features an array of workshops related to antiques, painting and restoration. The entry ticket costs €4 at the ticket office, or €3 if you buy it online, and it also allows you to participate in a raffle for a piece that is always on display in the Pavilion’s Hall.
- Where: Luís Adaro Asturias Fairground; Paseo del Dr. Fleming, Gijón (Asturias).
- When: Date to be consulted.