Wednesday, February 14, 2007

El Rastro of Madrid Where Rivers of People Erase

El Rastro of Madrid it is not only the “city’s most emblematic market” as the brochures claim, but it is also a unique Sunday experience where you can discover curious articles as you swim your way through rivers of people.

Every Sunday and festive occasions, thousands of people concentrate inside the triangle formed by three metro stations: La Latina, Puerta de Toledo and Embajadores, and set their mobile stores where they display their merchandise: from handcrafts, antiques and collection items, to kitchen utensils, photographs, posters and souvenirs, among other things.

Some of them sell items, others buy or exchange. Some of them offer new merchandise, while others display used articles. Some of them have fixed prices, while others prefer to negotiate and adjust their prices according to each costumer. Diverse ways to do business in an open air market that offers a non-traditional buying experience.

El Rastro inherited its name from the trails of blood that were left behind in the area when the market functioned as a meat market. Although you can no longer see the trails, or sense the pungent smell of blood; the tradition installed by tanners and ranchers to sell products derived from cattle the tradition of exchanging items in this part of the city is still alive.

In the XIX Century, the market started to become more diverse as merchants that sold furniture, jewelry and other valuable items started to commercialize their merchandise at El Rastro; eventually, more and more merchants starting coming to the area until it metamorphosed into what we know today: a never-ending array of colorful items lost in waterfalls of people that try to discover them as they float through the market.

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