Also known as “Feria de Bellcaire“, Los Encantes of Barcelona is the biggest and oldest flea market in Barcelona. Until September of 2013 it was located at Plaza de las Glories between the districts of Eixample and Sant Martí. Late last year it was transferred to a new facility of 35,000 square meters located a few meters from the old site, including improvements in the previous equipment that, in a sense, took away some of the spirit and personality of old Els Encants.
Among this new space improvements there is the zinc and aluminum new roof covering the place in case it rains, they have also enabled toilets and changing rooms for those buying clothes there, and also the opening hours are extended from 9am to 8pm, which allows traders to sell more. The shops and stalls that were previously outdoors are now within a homogeneous format of prefabricated metal houses that they mount and dismount daily. These stalls aren’t located by the type of goods they sell, with the exception of those selling antiques, which are at a higher level. The traditional auction held every Monday, Wednesday and Friday starting at 7am is now being held from 8 to 9’30am the same days, in euros (previously done on “duros”, equivalent to 5 pesetas) and with a new auctioneer. Some people think that Els Encants’ bars and restaurants have lost their “authenticity”; before they were full of people yelling their order. Now these places have a fake trendy look but they have improved their service.
Els Encants also incorporate a multidisciplinary room at the Central Square that will host conferences, exhibitions, performances, auctions and speeches, and it opened with a sample of photos from the old site. Also, accesses to the location has been improved with lifts, ramps, and escalators. One of the positive aspects of this change has been the implementation of recycling of the garbage generated by the market and the addition of security cameras 24 hours a day.
Despite having improved the image of this market and introduced new services and useful facilities for both traders and visitors, the new place has largely lost the charm, tradition, and originality of the old space, which was still preserved after many years and gave the neighborhood an authentic look, though a bit decadent.