THE VINTAGE SHOPPER: Mercat dels Encants Barcelona

by Emily Tait May 21, 2015

The Encants market—also known as the Fira de Bellcaire endearingly meaning 'fair of old charms'—claims to be one of the oldest markets in Europe with references to it dating back to the 14th century. Four times a week, 500 traders come to this bric-a-brac market, a stone’s throw from Glòries metro stop, with a weekly influx of 100,000 consumers. From antique furniture to heaps of second-hand clothing and any kind of knick knack you could imagine, you can obtain anything you could possibly want here and more.

Previously located in a grimy wasteland, which filled it with street personality, Encants market has recently moved across the traffic-jammed road and now lies under a swish, sculptured canopy. The new location, which has been opened for a little over a month, was created by architect Fermín Vázquez, who thankfully managed to retain the rustic, hustle and bustle beauty of the original market, exchanging its prior labyrinth form for a more organised sloping burrow. You can attain a literal reflection of this by looking up at its mirrored roof, which also allows you to see an overview of the whole ambience of the market and its prevailing structure.

Like a well-put-together outfit there are layers to this market and it’s not all on the exterior. Once you get past the cheap household goods, as essential as they are, treasures unfold the deeper you look, and amongst the junk there are jewels to be found. There is some satisfaction to be gained by watching the expression “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” come to life. It’s also guilt-free as the prices are low, bargaining is a definite option, and you feel you are reusing bits and pieces rather than shopping for them. This is not convenience shopping, it’s a flea market for the inquisitive, who have enough energy to hunt down hidden treats in the submersion of tat and trinkets.

Encants is open on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 8am, when there are early morning auctions (excluding Saturdays) and now closes at the later time of 8pm. If you miss the auctions, it’s still worth coming to get the items that didn’t sell at a low cost, or you can arrive at the end of the day when the vendors begin an enticing chant of “oneuro oneuro oneuro” to swarming crowds. For more information on the Encant’s schedule visit their website:

Emily Tait
Emily Tait