It’s one of the oldest markets in Belgium. Locals have been coming to the street auction on the Vrijdagmarkt in Antwerp since 1549. Here is where dealers sell off old office furniture from bankrupt firms, ornaments once cherished by someone’s grandmother, and plastic bin bags filled with miscellaneous junk.
The auction begins early on Friday morning around an ancient statue of St Catherine. The public stands behind a rope while an auctioneer wrapped in a heavy anorak shouts out prices.
The man sitting in the tent next to a heater is the bailiff, who carefully notes the sales in a ledger. You might pick up a crystal vase worth ten times what you paid. Or you could go home with a sealed box filled with four old cardigans and a broken computer.
Derek Blyth’s hidden secret of the day: Derek Blyth is the author of the bestselling “The 500 Hidden Secrets of Belgium”. He picks out one of his favourite hidden secrets for The Brussels Times every day.