Since its origins in the Middle Ages, the flea market, or Els Encants as it is known here, has become well established in Barcelona. Today work has begun on new facilities for the Encants Vells flea market close to its present site.
The first record we have of Encants Vells is the medieval market held next to the city walls on Camí del Rec in the mid-14th century.
In the 16th century it was moved to Plaça Nova and in the 17th to Plaça de Sant Jaume. In the 18th century it was set up in front of the Llotja building, and in the late 19th, early 20th century it wad located on Avinguda de Mistral and Passeig de la Creu Coberta.
Finally, the market was moved to Plaça de les Glòries in 1928 in anticipation of the 1929 World Exposition. The first trader to move there was Josep Font, on 23 March 1928. A week later there were 15 traders. After a month, 50, and this figure soon topped 200 traders.
At first, the move was not easy: Avinguda de Mistral and Passeig de la Creu Coberta were thoroughfares, whereas Plaça de les Glòries was somewhere customers had to expressly decide to go to.
The construction of the new facilities currently underway will mean another, final move for the market, although this time the impact on business will be minimal, since the new site is right next to the existing one.
Tour of the market
The market opens to the public at 9am. A good place to start your visit is the entrance on Avinguda Meridiana, just before the Plaça de les Glòries junction. Here you will see the Museo bar-restaurant. The market entrance takes you in through lanes lined with wooden stalls. All kinds of new furniture is sold here at reasonable prices, as well as mattresses, doors, lights and even entire kitchens.
On the left you will see a little square leading to the door to Carrer Dos de Maig. Here, along the stretch running between Plaça de les Glòries and Consell de Cent, you will find travelling market stalls selling all kinds of things. If you walk down Dos de Maig towards Plaça de les Glòries and turn right, you will see a set of stairs leading to a passageway where the DIY and garden tools stalls are set up. Beyond that you come to the auction field.
The auction field consists of a square surrounded by permanent stalls offering an infinite variety of items. In the middle of the square, you have the stalls displaying the auction items. If you continue straight ahead, along the side passage to the other end of the square, you will find a little covered street full of antique dealers, mainly selling books and old furniture. Some of the items found there are over a hundred years old.
At the end of this street you will return to the auction field. Following the side passage and turning to the right, you will see the canopies of yet more stalls. In this area you will encounter the odd street trader demonstrating the worth and usefulness of their goods.
Total surface area: 15,000 m2
Alterations: currently being remodelled. The market's business will not be affected since although it is moving site, it is staying within the same area.