The Rastro market is a well-known event in Madrid. Every Sunday, from nine in the morning to three in the afternoon, hundreds of stalls line Plaza de Cascorro and Ribera de Curtidores, along with several of the side streets off them.
It’s on the to-do list for many tourists, but many locals will head along from time to time. Meaning that it’s best to get there by about ten or half-past, so you’re there before the crowds really turn up.
But amongst the stalls full of tools, jewellery, souvenirs, and the like at this flea market, what is there for geeks?
Well, there are many stalls with geeky t-shirts, including things like (but not limited to) things like Game of Thrones and Rick and Morty. You’ll also find the odd stall with a few comic books.
However, the main prize for us is to be found in a small square, called the Plaza del Campillo del Mundo Nuevo, near to the Puerta de Toledo campus of Carlos III University.
Around the plaza, you’ll find many people (fifteen when we went recently) who have folders full of trading cards laid out on street furniture or small tables.
Every one of them will have a variety of football cards, and if this is your thing, there will also be children and the occasional adult wandering around looking for swaps too. Many of them have other collectible cards, with L.O.L. Suprise! and Dragon Ball (that’s more like it!) being the most common.
But it’s the gaming cards that I’m interested in. Most of the sellers have Fantasy Riders, a simple game from Panini that seems quite popular here. About half have Pokémon, and a handful have Yu-Gi-Oh! and/or Magic: The Gathering.
Expect all the cards to be in Spanish, which is fair given we’re in Spain. I can’t speak for the other games, but the vast majority of the Magic cards are from sets recent enough to still be in Standard. There were some from older sets though, as far back as Sixth Edition and including some Modern/Legacy playable, so it may well be worth taking your time to look through everything.
As well as those sellers there were two stalls, one with non-game trading cards and Pokémon, but the other with Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh! and Magic cards, boosters, and a modest selection of sleeves.
The plaza is also home to the largest concentration of bookstalls in El Rastro, with several that have comic books and a couple that have individual issues.
As with the trading cards, everything, with perhaps the occasional exception, in Spanish. There’s a mix of big American titles and home-grown Spanish titles, so Mortadelo y Filemón or Capitán Trueno are as likely to be found as Marvel and DC. I spotted a few volumes of manga too, but not very much.
Also, at the end of the stretch of book stalls, there were a couple of video game stalls, selling second-hand games and systems. Don’t expect any ’80s retro gems though, it was pretty much all from the last fifteen years and mostly from the last ten or twelve.
If you’re down that end of the market, there are also a couple of stores you might be interested in nearby.
Calle Mira el Río Baja has (right at the plaza end) Comic Hunter, a comic book shop that has its own article on here.
Meanwhile, Calle de Arganzuela has Ziggy’s (mostly DVDs and Vinyl, but a few comics towards the back), Militaria Arganzuela (a military antique shop), and Galaxy Saurio (a second-hand toy store, which also has a few booster packs of old card games).
So there you have it, for CCG players, comic fans and video gamers, there may be more than you expect at El Rastro.
Have you spotted anything great at the Rastro? Tell us about it in the comments.
Official website: http://www.elrastro.org/
Nearest Metros: Puerto de Toledo (line 5) or Embajadores (line 3).