Shopping in Madrid the most “castizo”: El Rastro

Madrid is the best city in Spain to go shopping, but you’ll need to know where to look.

In the downtown streets full of elegant historical buildings such as Gran Vía, Plaza Mayor, Fuencarral or Puerta del Sol, the blocks with stores with affordable prices, young designer fashion shops alongside traditional ones, alternate with restaurants, cafes and terraces.

The center of Madrid is for wandering around and stopping to browse the abundant shops. There is a dynamic, open and cosmopolitan area that makes you feel like one more Madrilenian. Step in!

KNOW MADRID NEIGHBORHOODS

Madrid is known worldwide as a captivating cultural hub, for the exquisite cuisine and the fashion-forward residents. Each of the amazing neighborhoods have a unique identity of its own and this makes exploring the city a fun adventure.

The capital of Spain can be divided into two main zones:

  • The old traditional Center, with the Puerta del Sol and Gran Vía at its heart.

  • Castizo (traditional) with Argüelles, Chueca, Malasaña, Chamberí, and Lavapiés districts.

The newer Ensanche refers to all parts of Madrid built outside of the old city walls from the 18th century onward. This area includes the Castellana Avenue, the Salamanca barrio, home of some of Madrid’s best shops and restaurants, and northern Chamartín district.

Gran Via in Madrid, Spain
Street of one of the neighborhoods in the center of Madrid, Spain

VISIT MADRID’S CATHEDRAL

The Almudena Cathedral is the most important religious building in the city. It was built on the site of a medieval mosque destroyed in 1083 and stands directly opposite to the Royal Palace.

Since it’s across the street from the Royal Palace, the cathedral makes a great stop along the route.
Almudena Cathedral Madrid, Spain
Almudena Cathedral Madrid, Spain

STOP BY THE SPANISH ROYAL PALACE OR PALACIO REAL DE MADRID

The Royal Palace of Madrid, otherwise known as the “Palacio de Oriente” is one of the main attractions when visiting Madrid. The construction of the Royal Palace from Madrid began in 1738 and took 16 years to complete.

Nowadays, the Royal Palace of Madrid is used exclusively for receptions, state ceremonies and official acts.  It is surrounded by the Campo del Moro Park and the Sabatini gardens. Both of them are also opened to the public to visit.

Royal Palace of Madrid and Campo del Moro Park

PLAZA SANTA ANA: A SQUARE DEDICATED TO THE THEATRE

Throughout Madrid’s history, Plaza de Santa Ana has been closely linked to the performing arts. Here is where in the first comedy shows and the great artists first came to fame. From the 16th to the 18th centuries, Santa Ana square was popular among the most important artists:  Calderón de la Barca, Lope de Vega and Cervantes, among others.

La Latina neighborhood Madrid

La Latina neighborhood in Madrid hosts the city’s oldest architecture and some of its finest cuisine. The small alleyways are especially beautiful. On Sundays, La Latina’s most famous street, La Cava Baja, is Madrid’s place to be. This charming street is lined with tiny bars serving up “cañas” (draft beer), wines and tapas.

La Latina Madrid, Spain

It’s a tradition to go to La Latina on Sunday afternoons after the city’s flea market, El Rastro, and hop from bar to bar until late.

SHOPPING IN MADRID

When deciding where to go shopping in Madrid, the options are very diverse. Madrid offers a great selection of stores to choose from and to buy from the most common objects, to the most specific and bizarre ones.

The capital brings together a large number of commercial areas where you find shops of all kinds. Strolling through a neighborhood, getting lost in its streets, and entering one or another store is one of those addicting plans to do in Madrid.

Shopping in Madrid: Gran Via

Photo: Author Quique Olivar en Unplash

EL RASTRO MADRID: THE POPULAR FLEA MARKET

El Rastro Madrid is a flea market in the historic center of the city, in the popular neighborhood of La Latina. This market opens every Sunday and every holiday.

El Rastro is actually the most popular open air flea market in Spain.

There is a main street  dedicated to Market stalls, but the side streets contain the real “treasures”.

In the past it used to be almost exclusively a place where anyone could sell antique objects or exchanged them for others. Nowadays, besides things of second hand, you can find new objects: clothes, jewelry, handbags, decorative figures, etc.

El Rastro Madrid, Spain

Photo: Author Bárbara Fdez

El Rastro Madrid, Spain

Photo: Author Eduardo Rodriguez en Unsplash

Known for being crowded, El Rastro offers a diverse range of goods, as it stands out for its jumble of specialist shops, typical bars or historic sites.

You’ll find different items from artisanal goods, to accessories or kitchenware, second-hand albums and magazines, and all sorts of objects…

El Rastro offers a curious and entertaining walk and a surprise with each step

 

SPANISH ESPADRILLES

If there’s something fashion is famous for, that is its constant changes. Nevertheless, it does have some elements which never change. This is the case of the espadrille: a shoe which is typical of the Mediterranean and that was very popular with the working classes. Today the Spanish espadrilles are seen as another fashion accessory.

Spain is considered the birthplace of the espadrille

 

Shopping in Madrid: Spanish espadrilles
Shopping in Madrid: Spanish espadrilles

An espadrille is a footwear, much like a slipper, whose sole is made of braided esparto, or halvah grass. The top part is usually made of cotton, canvas, or animal skins. The espadrilles are worn especially in Spain, the South of France, and some parts of Latin America.

The funny thing about espadrilles is that everyone likes them and they suit everybody!

LUTHIER GUITAR IN MADRID

The classical guitar’s early development was in Italy and in Spain, and today marvelous classical and flamenco guitars are made in every corner of the world. Despite this, no other country’s socio-cultural relationship to an instrument is as close as Spain is to the guitar.

Besides, Madrid has been the heart of Spanish guitar-making since the mid-18th century.

So, if you enjoy music, we can take you to a place where you can learn about the art of guitar making with a luthier whose family has been crafting Spanish guitars since 1887. How is that sound?

A luthier makes Spanish guitar

COME ALONG

Madrid is heaven on earth for shopping lovers.

It’s one of the few European capitals that offers affordable options that don’t compromise quality… plus the uncommon flair unique to Spanish fashion.

If in Madrid you wanna go out, you wanna do some sightseeing, you wanna relax and meet people…or you wanna go clubbing… grab something to eat… Neighborhoods of the downtown madrid got everything, from food and relaxation to art and cultural events that will be memorable! Enjoy!

Other experiences that may be of interest…

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