Plaza Mayor was fascinating to me as it was not at all similar to than to be in hectic downtown. I enjoyed the air and space around me, the old big statues, the historical nicely painted buildings - and my refreshment after a long walk.
Plaza Mayor is definitely one place where I would take my first-timer guest.
Fondest memory: When talking about Plaza Mayor - please see above.
This square was initially built between 1617 and 1620 on the request of King Felipe II. After a terrible fire it was totally redesigned in 1790.
Over the centuries it was used as marketplace, bullring, inquisition and execution place.
In Plaza Mayor there are some shops; many cafes and restaurants. There is also a tourist office.
The Plaza Mayor is right next to the Peurta del Sol and a great place for everything. There will be lots of people leasurly walking around they are plenty of shopping opportunities, tapas bars and nightlife. Another great meeting point and general area to spend a day!
Since its creation, the Plaza Mayor has apparently seen festivities, bull fights, royal coronations and executions. These would be attended by as many as 50,000 people.
Fondest memory: The Plaza Mayor, a grand arcaded square in the center of Madrid is very popular spot. The symmetrical rectangular square features a uniform architecture, very similar to the contemporary Place des Vosges in Paris.
During the middle ages the site was just a market place outside the city walls. In the 1560s, King Philip II asked Juan de Herrera, architect of the Escorial, to turn the market place into a real square. It would take until 1617, during the reign of King Philips III, before the construction of the new Plaza Mayor started. Under the direction of Herrera's successor, Juan Gómez de la Mora, the plaza was completed in just two years.
The result was a large square, measuring 120m long and 90m wide (394ft x 295ft). It was surrounded by wooden buildings, at one point up to six stories high. Fires destroyed all the buildings around the Plaza Mayor three times in history: in 1631, 1672 and 1790. Each time they were rebuilt, the last reconstruction after a design by Juan de Villanueva is what we see today.
The Plaza Mayor is just a short walk from the Peurta Del Sol area as well.
Favorite thing: The first day we decided to continue towards Plaza Mayor. It really is one of the most incredible places I have seen so far. The shape, the buildings, the golden glow of the afternoon Sun, the people enjoying a glass of wine… a fantastic spot.
Favorite thing: Frequently check the newspaper for any events that may be happening at the Plaza. During the weekend of my stay, there was an exhibition of Andalusian horses. It's beautiful to watch these horses prance around in synchronous patterns.
Ok so here's a little reccommendation:
When you arrive in Madrid for the first time, go to Plaza Mayor and find the tourist information office and ask for 'en Madrid What's on' magazine and they'll give you one for free! I found this very useful as it's comes out monthly therefore is always up-to-date! You can find info about places of interest, theatres, shopping, restaurants, sports, exhibitions, flamenco, fairs, nightclubs and so on... Plus a helpful city map in the middle!
If you're staying in Madrid for around 3 days, then you may want to buy the 'Madrid Card' which entitles you to free admissions to 40 of the top museums, free use of public transport and the 'Madrid Vision' tour bus and also discounts in shops, restaurants, shows etc...
Price: 1 day-28Eur, 2 days-42Eur, 3 days-55Eur
This is at the Plaza Mayor at your right side if you come from Plaza del Sol.
It is easy to recognise from all the buildings because of the frescos paintings on its facade.
the last times I visited was on reconstruction, so it was nice to see all renewed.
Conveniently located in downtown Madrid, this 17th century wide, open square/ courtyard is a common meeting place for tourists and the locals alike. It was once a place of great importance where public executions, great festivals and the crowning of the king took place.
Today, this whole area is filled with lovely tapa bars and souvenir shops.
If you wish to people-watch, the Plaza Mayor is also a good place to conduct your 'hobby'. ;-)
This time Madrid behaved too officially indeed and decided to make the first introduction on Plaza Mayor, however I didn't expect it to be that formal.
But then, when it saw me in the middle of the square totally lost, deafened by the crowd of other guests, surprised and bewildered at the same time... it colored the facedes in pink with the help of the settling sun, switched on chansons played on accordion by some French looking Spaniard, turned on the lanterns in the open air restaurant and set my eyes on a fragile angel standing still on a box with her hands put together in a pray.... and I suddenly relaxed, calmed down and smiled to Madrid. All in all I liked the introduction...
Favorite thing: The books all say you should check out the Plaza Mayor and so you must! Try to do your discovering in the early morning hours as the restauranteurs and shopkeepers are just considering opening up for the day, so you have the area more or less to yourself. Walk around and think that hmmmm, you missed out on the public executions by a mere three or four centuries...
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