Say ‘Barcelona shopping’ and the chances are your mind conjures up images of atmospheric Gothic backstreets and glitzy boulevard boutiques where the glitterati gladly indulge their designer fix. And you wouldn’t be far off. Barcelona is a giddily glamorous shopping destination, home to high-end boutiques, art galleries and dozens of modern shopping centres selling the latest in technology, fashion and home furnishings.
But if you fancy a more vintage take on the Barcelona retail experience, there’s no better place than the city’s biggest and oldest flea market – Encants Market.
Stalls steeped in history
The market’s full name in Catalan is ‘Encants Vells’, meaning ‘old charms’, and it’s also occasionally referred to as the Mercat Fira de Bellcaire. And old is certainly is – written sources date its existence all the way back to the 14th century. Spanning a space of 15,000 square metres, today the market is home to hundreds of stalls staffed by 500-odd merchants and traders.
A mecca for acquisitive souls, Encants doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the range of goods up for grabs. Second-hand clothing and curios, furniture and fabrics, homeware and handicrafts, ornaments, knick-knacks and bric-a-brac, trinkets, toys and textiles, antiques and accessories, not to mention vintage vinyl, all compete for buyers’ attention.
So what’s the Encants etiquette? Basically, dive in. Bargains get snapped up quickly and you may well have to rummage through a fair amount of tat before finding treasure, but there is treasure to be found.
Encants Market is open for business every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Opening hours are from 09:00 to 17:00, although things start to wind down around 3pm. Saturday is definitely the most popular day. For your pick of the day’s wares, it’s best to get there early, ideally before 10am.
Check the official calendar for details of closures and holidays. Bear in mind that the market tends to be fairly deserted throughout the heat of August.
Public auctions take place from 07:15 to 09:00, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
As there’s a lot of jostling among the jumble, remember to keep a careful eye on your belongings. Otherwise, happy bargaining!
Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes, 8
Official website: www.encantsbcn.com/