Flea Market in Mexico City

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The practice of “chacharear” (in Spanish, buying, selling and exchanging second-hand goods) dates back to before the colonial period in Mexico, as the first market of “baratillo” (or cheap stuff) existed in the Zócalo (historic centre) of Mexico City in the seventeenth century.

Now, as a result of the worsening economic crisis and the growing unemployment rate in Mexico, the “tianguis” (flea market stalls in Mexican Spanish) quickly began to spread like ivy on Mexico City’s asphalt, with more and more branches taking over new streets.

Tianguis (“Mercado de Pulgas” or flea market in Spanish) is a word of Náhuatl origin (the language of the Aztecs) and, as mentioned above, is also called “baratillo” and “tenderete” in other Spanish-speaking countries.

La Lagunilla: Mexico City’s most famous flea market

The famous Lagunilla of Mexico City is the most traditional flea market in the city. This flea market takes place every Sunday and is attended by a wide variety of people, from antique dealers to city dwellers and tourists looking for antiques (“antigüedades” in Spanish).

Historically, everyone in Mexico City has at least once in their life heard the phrase: “I bought it in la Lagunilla flea market”. There is even an anecdote that Guillermo González Camarena, the famous Mexican engineer who invented colour television, wandered through the second-hand stalls of the Tepito and La Lagunilla flea markets looking for parts to build his first video camera in 1934.

The La Lagunilla flea market has a little bit of everything for everyone: As we stroll through the stalls, an early twentieth-century Philco radio emits the hard chords of a “danzón de Acerina”, while Carlos Ibarra, a local bookseller, tells us that he is selling part of his private library to create a “postcard museum”.

He explains the importance of deltiología, or the study of postcards, because this science allows our generation to see how a city, its buildings and streets looked in the past, which is essential in Mexico: “if there is one thing we have dedicated ourselves to, it is the destruction of our architectural heritage”.

Jorge Zavala, a famous architect and restorer of historical monuments in Mexico, is an avid visitor to the La Lagunilla flea market, where he hunts for books, masks, bottles, ceramics and other 19th and early 20th century arts and crafts. Jorge Zavala has an impressive collection of Mexican masks that he started 25 years ago, when the La Lagunilla flea market offered more books and antique furniture than it does now. Today you can find all kinds of antiques, both originals and replicas.

Maria Felix, the diva of Mexican cinema, was also a prominent antiquarian. In 2001, shortly before her death, she attended the first art and antiques fair held at the Franz Mayer Museum.

History of La Lagunilla Flea Market

The name of the flea market comes from the “Puces de Saint Ouen”, the famous flea market that was born at the end of the nineteenth century. At that time, the City Council of Paris decided that rag pickers could no longer work in the city and expelled them to the last fortifications of Paris, where they settled in the neighbouring communes on the outskirts of the capital.

In Saint-Ouen, regular second-hand goods fairs began in 1880, but the flea market was actually born in 1885.

Today, the La Lagunilla flea market is a series of markets that serve different aspects of the supply of a large part of the city of Mexico. Originally, the La Lagunilla flea market served only two districts or “colonias” of the city: Guerrero and Santa María de la Ribera, for which an annex to the original market called “Santa Catarina” was built in 1912.

For this purpose, this group of “colonias” purchased a site located between the Callejón del Basilisco, la Plazuela del Tequesquite, el Callejón de los Papas and la segunda calle de la Amargura. In 1913, the construction of the current market was completed.

At that time, the La Lagunilla flea market was mainly dedicated to the sale of food, with special sections for poultry and fish. As was the case in other urban markets, stalls began to be set up in the streets surrounding and adjacent to the market, with a haphazard mix of vegetables, sweets, fabrics and other bric-a-brac, making it almost impossible for vehicles to pass.

This situation lasted until the mid-fifties, when the Federal District Department ordered the construction of numerous markets to replace the old ones.

Thus, the New Market of Santa Catarina, also called “La Lagunilla” by many, was replaced by a set of three buildings: One for seeds, vegetables, fruit, fish and poultry, located across Libertad and Callejón de San Camilo (140 stalls); the second for clothing and fabrics, framed by Rayón, Allende, Ecuador and el Callejón de la Vaquita (499 stalls); the third, dedicated to furniture and bric-a-brac, located in Allende, Honduras and Libertad and Comonfort streets.

Where to Buy Antiques: Calle Rayón

Every Sunday there is a flea market in the seventh block of calle Allende, with stalls selling a wide variety of items such as books, fruit, sweets, ice cream, cheap jewellery, pewter, brass and bronze animals, blown glass tableware, paper flowers and plastic blocks, belts, wallets, purses and other leather goods, toys, glass lamps, guitars and all sorts of bric-a-brac.

In the wide calle de Rayón, between Allende and Comonfort, you will find the most unusual stalls of used and second-hand items, attracting thousands of visitors and prospective buyers, especially antique lovers and tourists.

In Rayón Street you will find a wide range of antiques and vintage memorabilia: Plates, plates and antique ceramic vases, Spanish, French and English porcelain; candlesticks and other silver and bronze objects; lamps and glass paperweights; furniture of various styles (Louis XV, Colonial, Chippendale), carpets, cutlery, pens, old weapons, phonographs, radios, old telephones; crucibles, apothecary jars and tools of all kinds; iron plates, spurs, stirrups and pommels; old banknotes and coins, among a universe of other items on sale at the calle de Rayon flea market.


It seems that the Lagunilla flea market will never end, even with the growth of Mexico City, because it is already part of the tradition of this city, as well as the inherited custom of doing business that Mexicans have in their blood.

Last but not least, the Lagunilla flea market is a place where people sympathise in one way or another, as Mexicans and foreigners, regardless of their status, because everyone goes to La Lagunilla either out of necessity or eccentricity.

How to get there: La Lagunilla flea market is very accessible by subway lines 8 (Garibaldi station) and B (Lagunilla station).

Useful apps to navigate in Mexico City: Metro DF (for iOS and Android), Metro y Metrobus de Mexico (for iOS and Android).