In a city that is growing in leaps and bounds like Madrid it is a sheer pleasure to stumble upon a singular bazaar that is situated in a tent-like store in Antón Martín, close to Huertas. This wonderful bazaar, organised by Persépolis cultural centre, offers exotic goods and culture under an Omar Khayyam styled layout, where the famed eleventh-century mathematician, poet, scholar and astronomer would surely have indulged in his all-time passion: verse recitals. The Persépolis Intercultural Association is a non-profit registered organization with the specific aim to create, promote and educate about the different aspects of Iranian/Persian culture, as their website states. In fact, this cultural centre often runs Persian literature and poetry conferences and sells a wide range of books on classic and contemporary authors.
The local area where this Bazaar is held, Antón Martín, is a historical neighborhood where in the late eighteenth century townsfolk rose against the regime of Charles III. They took to the streets to protest against the increasing price of bread and oil. Moreover, they were outraged at the Marquis of Esquilache's ban on donning the traditional capes in the streets. Antón Martín has managed to retain its flavor blending with the old and new. Quaint shops compete with the trendy stores and the denizens mingle with the newcomers living in peace and harmony.
Isfahan is a welcome addition to the plethora of festive markets filling the streets of Madrid in December, and it is unique not only due to the goods it offers but also because of the folks who run it. Mr. Ahmed Taheri, the director, is a soft-spoken man. The assistants are business partners too who are knowledgeable and capable of answering any questions put to them in perfect Spanish.
When you step in Isfahan, is a feast for the eyes. The visitor is drawn to the colourful, exquisitely crafted objects and curios well displayed on the walls and other artefacts laid out neatly on tables. The legendary kings Cyrus the Great or Darius I would have appreciated these precious and delicate ornaments and textiles in their luxurious Persian palaces.
Isfahan, the ancient city in nowadays Iran, prides itself on still producing works of Khatam Kari or Ghalamzani – a delicate art consisting of an elaborate process wherein skillful artisans inlay such materials as bone, mother-of-pearl or wood (in various hues) on metal, gold, silver and brass, decorating these surfaces mainly in geometrical shapes depicting the daily life of the royalty and noblemen hunting, playing polo, holding court etc.
The city is also famed for Ghalamkar carpets sold worldwide. They are hand printed and stamped with patterns with one color at a time in a very spontaneous manner by the artists, who do not use a set pattern.
A special mention must be also made of the colorful tapestries.
The store doubles as a hall for events such as talks, Persian classes and various cultural activities. Sufi music concerts are also held in different theaters in the city. Persépolis also offers Farsi language lessons and traditional Persian music tuition.
Just the right place to get your unusual gifts for the Yuletide.
The Persian Bazaar runs from 5th December to 13th December.
Everyday-until 13 December: 10.30 to 20:00
C/ Santa María 20
Nearest Metro station: Antón Martín
Across Madrid recommends this bazaar and cultural centre as an independent company, and there are no commissions whatsoever involved in our recommendation. We simply have been there and loved it!
© Kris Sinclair Christian, December 2015. Please note that this article may be quoted in editorial contexts only, with source and author.
Across Madrid Blog
Isfahan: a Bazaar with a difference