Winter Scavengers: Hamburg’s Indoor Flea Markets

As one would expect of a major-ish city in Europe, Hamburg hosts a variety of flea markets throughout the year.  Having lived in Paris for a couple of years, and being a flea/antique market devotee, I can tell you that pickins’ are comparatively slim here in northern Germany.  But that hasn’t stopped me from hitting the pavement in search of some one-of-a-kind finds here in Hamburg.

{Hamburg’s Winter Flea Market “Winter Flohmarkt” at the convention center “Messehallen”}

Messehallen Flohmarkt_Feb 2015_Danish Modern

Having antiqued my way through much of Western Europe, I’ve noticed some trends across all of the markets, as well as items that are unique to certain cities, regions or countries.  To provide just a couple of examples (which I found at last weekend’s event in Hamburg)…

1. Danish Modern – Danish Modern seems to be popular, even Minneapolis.  It’s no different here in Europe.  Pieces such as those pictured (above) have appeared at every design fair and flea market I’ve been to.

Messehallen Flohmarkt_Feb 2015_maps

2. Antique Maps and Prints – Again, these are a perennial favorite across the continent.

Messehallen Flohmarkt_Feb 2015

3. Colored antique crystal wine glasses.  These seem to be the trademark of the northern German flea market/antique fair.  They appear in surprisingly great quantity here compared to other areas of Europe.  Also popular are porcelain dishes and sterling silver serving vessels (neither of which I collect or are particularly interested in).   On the flip side, I wish there was more high-quality vintage jewelry and furniture at the markets in these parts.


Travel tip:  In Europe there are “flea markets” and there are “antique markets”.  Both can be held in fixed locations or in temporary spaces.  The main difference, of course, is the quality of the goods sold.  Antique markets have many more bona fide antiques, many of the vendors are professional antique dealers, and there’s often an entrance fee.  Flea markets, however, are a bit of a crapshoot – they can be filled with high-quality antiques or with used H&M sweatshirts.  Or a both.  In Hamburg, the line between an antique market and a flea market gets very blurry.  Most events here are advertised as an “antique/flea market”, which allows for any type of item to be sold.

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