The Plaza Mayor is Madrid's main plaza, a huge enclosed square that over time has seen a variety of uses as varied as executions and bullfights.
In the center is the equestrian statue of Phillip III, which was from 1616 but was not actually installed permanently until 1848. It should be noted that Phillip III is not generally seen as a great monarch, presiding over increasing corruption and out of control spending that caused the economic decline of the Spanish Empire. The third of Spain's Hapsburg Kings, you can really notice the increasingly exaggerated long jaw of the Spanish Hapsburgs, even more evident in Phillip IV. This was caused more than anything else by the tendency of the Spanish Hapsburgs to marry cousins.
The main facade is the former Casa de la Panaderia (Bakery House) was owned by the Bakers Guild. That function has long since ceased after the plaza has been burned down and rebuilt several times. Today it serves as the headquarters of the Madrid Tourist Board.
warning- when sitting at the cafes on the Plaza Mayor be very mindful of your belongings, pickpockets are very active here.
the center piece of Spain in Madrid, they even had bullfights here, executions, celebrations, all the life centered around this plaza. Many of the restaurants and shops were frequented by my family for years, still some there. I go several times a year.
The architecture around it is superb ,and the tradition of police on horses is great.
a lot on VT already if need specifics let me know. Enjoy it
The Plaza Mayor is the central market square for Madrid, located within a rectangular plaza surrounded on all sides by buildings with balconies and windows and shops on the bottom floor.
In the center of the plaza is an equestrian statue of Philip III, who commissioned the building of the plaza. The statue was designed by the Italian sculptor Giovanni de Bologna, but was completed by his student Pietro Tacca in 1616. It used to be situated at the Casa de Campo but was moved to the Plaza Mayor in the mid-1800s.
On one of the buildings near the center of the plaza are some very beautiful paintings featuring allegories. Below these paintings is Madrid’s main tourist office.
The plaza has a stamp and coin collectors market each Sunday and is close to the famous Rastro flea market.
Plaza Mayor is surrounded by restaurants, souvenir shops, street artists and performers. With a history coming from late 16th century, it's no surprise that this square has become the center of attraction for locals and tourists. There are nine doors to enter the square and the most famous one is Arco de Cuchilleros which connects to La Latina. Panaderia is the oldest building in the square and the architecture is alluring. If you visit Madrid, you will definitely be in this square sooner or later...
I feel as if I ran a gamut of emotions with the Plaza Mayor on this trip. First there was the anticipation of finally returning, the disappointment of its tent and atmosphere, the joy of experiencing it early in the morning, and then finally, acceptance during our last pass through it.
Feel free to check out my travelogue if you'd like to read my rambling thoughts about what this plaza means to me. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wanna smack that Sponge Bob square in the face.
Plaza Mayor is an elegant central square in Madrid. Its origins date back as far as 1576 when King Phillip asked Juan de Herrera an architect to redesign the Plaza del Araabal. Progress on the new square went very slowly and it wasn't til 1617 that construction took place. The porticoes were finished in 1630. According to Wikipedia the square as we know it today was actually designed by Juan de Villanueva who was called in to rebuild the square after a series of large fires.
The square has served many purposes over the years including a place for major political events, soccer games, markets and a variety of performers. During the Spanish Inquisition the park was used as a place for public executions.
The square is also the site of many demonstrations due to it central location. While there were no demonstrations occurring when we were there we did notice the existence of many police and a police station located right on the square. What was interesting to us was all of the enterprising performers showing off and trying to earn a living. Some of them were fascinating while others such as a man dressed in a clown suit with a high pitched voice were very annoying.
we were in Plaza Mayor just at around 10 am when we noticed a small group milling around 2 young men and a woman. we found out that they were volunteer guides who do not charge a rate, but you may give a tip at the end of the tour. our guide was british in his late 20s but was conversant with the history and culture of Spain. Starting at the Plaza Mayor, the tour winds through the streets and alleys of Madrid, stopping by important structures, statues, spaces, such as the Catedral de Almudena, Palacio Real, as well as pointing out famous food joints (oldest restaurant, best churros), vignettes of famous icons like Picasso and Cervantes.
I had expected the cafes to be full around midnight in Plaza Major. However, it seemed like most of the cafes were closing up and just a few folks milling about or finishing a beer or glass of wine. Considering how busy the place was a few hours earlier, it was strange to see things this quiet.
In the heart of Madrid the Plaza Mayor is steeped in history. Originally an Arab marketplace, In 1590 King Phillip II had it removed and a grand structure put in its place, to be used as a marketplace and meeting place. The original wooden structure 6 stories high, burnt down in 1790, when the present 'Casa de la Panadería' was built in the Flemish style. The statue in the centre of the square represents Phillip III.
Today its a typical place for visitors to gather, to relax and watch the world go by at the many Tapas bars. Try the typical Bocata de Calamares (Squid sandwich) and a beer. Its also a great central meeting place for VT meetings :0)
See the webcam at the link below.
This plaza is full of the history of Spain. Started in late 1500's, this is where the Spainsh Inquisition took place, and where bull fights were a common activity. Nowadays it has tons of restaurants which can be classifed as tourist traps and souvenirs stores selling expensive items. This is usually the first place visited by everyone coming to Madrid. From here you can venture in 9 different directions into the cobblestones streets surrounding the Plaza. A must see site in Madrid. Give yourself about an hour to see the entire sqaure. Be forwarned about the restaurants that surround the square. I don't think you'll catch a local eating there.
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