On a border of the Financial City with its skyscrapers, there is Spitalfields Market from which the East End starts. 50 steps away from busy Liverpool Street Station, and you are already lost in narrow and curvy streets which haven’t changed through centuries.
The history of this place is long. In Roman times it used to be a cemetery following the Great Fire of London; thousands of people camped on the site, and then finally in 1682 when King Charles II grants permission to put up a market here.
In the past this area used to attract all sorts of immigrants: French Huguenots escaping the Louis XIV, Russian Jews, Bangladeshi Muslims,etc. All of them brought new skills to the area, from silk trading, to sewing machines and bagels. There is a famous 24/7 bagel shop at the top of the Brick Lane, which still attracts huge crowds. In 1991, the fruit and vegetable market moved out and the new version of the market started to take shape. Sir Norman Foster, the renowned architect, covered it with glass. Local residents were against the changes, but nowadays you can’t imagine it to look different.
In January 2011 the market received the award “Best Private Market” by NABMA, the National Association of British Market Authorities.
There are different days for different trades in here:
Mon to Wed: 10am-4pm
General Market Stalls
Thurs: 10am – 4pm
Antiques & Vintage Market
Fri: 10am – 4pm
Fashion & Art Market
Sun: 9am – 5pm
General Market Stalls
Apart from that, you can find a variety of shops which are open every day: Traffic People, Agnes B and Jigsaw for ladies fashion. Dolly Dare is worth a special attention not only for the 1920s inspired polka dot and check dresses, but for the best arranged window shops ever.
There are also antique stores with everything from chandeliers to umbrellas, gift shop, Mundo and – attention-cavernous grotto-cum-shop Queens with its glittering dolls, frogs and fairies. Quirky shoe brand Terraplana has a pop-up store there along with Dr.Martens. Well, you got the idea. And, if you are hungry, this is a place to go as well. If you are a vegetarian like me, I would recommend Pilpel Falafel Place at 38 Brushfield Street,Spitalfields. Run by Uri Dinay who uses the same falafel recipe which his grandfather created 60 years ago.
Or if you have more cash to spend, try Ping Pong at 3-6 Steward Street,Spitalfields. It is a chain, but their dim sum is better than in Chinatown, in my opinion. The also have a massive cocktail menu, including non-alcoholic options of exotic fruit blends. Mmm…Mason Les Barriles at 8-9 Lamb Street is very good for tapas, but is not cheap at all. Authentic food stalls are also present. If you want to try “fast food” foreign cuisine, there are plenty to choose from. Although personally I don’t like this type of lunching.
And last but not least, the Lomography Gallery Store is based here! So, you can drop all your films that you shot on the market to be developed and go enjoy your food while they are being done! Or, you can buy more films and cameras in case you live someplace where you can’t buy them. Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday: 10am – 7pm
Old Spitalfields Market
16 Horner Square