Plaza Mayor, Madrid

4 out of 5 stars 142 Reviews

Main square of Madrid

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  • Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo

    Historic Plaza Mayor

    by Bwana_Brown Updated Nov 15, 2009

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    Most recent version (1790) of Plaza Mayor
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    Shortly after leaving the Puerta del Sol plaza and its bustling activity related to the Three Kings festivities, we soon found ourselves in the amazing four-sided courtyard of Plaza Mayor. Things were also happening there with buskers and other forms of entertainment starting to take place, all probably part of the same festival.

    However, in our case we were more interested in taking in this impressive piece of architecture with its 237 balconies and nine entrance portals, originally inaugurated in 1620 under the rule of King Philip III. Fires sweeping through cities were relatively common in the following eras, so it was necessary to reconstruct Plaza Mayor in its present form by 1790. The surrounding rooms are now used for residential purposes, along with traditional old shops around its lower level.

    In the central part of the plaza is a bronze statue of King Philip III, the work of two Italian sculptors and completed in 1616 (2nd photo). It was not moved to Plaza Mayor until 1848, but is still a fine looking piece of work. After spending some time admiring the architecture and watching a few of the activities, we continued our walk through more quaint streets as we headed toward nearby Plaza de la Villa, another historic location that is now the seat of Madrid's elected officials.

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    Casa de la Panaderia

    by ruki Written Oct 16, 2009

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    It is the most poplar building in Plaza Mayor. Casa de la Panaderia is the seat of the powerful bakers guilt. It was finished as early as 1590, before the square was even laid out. Its current design with symmetric towers dates from 1790. But most interesting for me on the building are colorful murals which are added in 1992.

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    Plaza Mayor

    by ruki Written Oct 16, 2009

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    Just a few minutes walk from the Puerta del Sol you will be on the great and big square Plaza Mayor. It is the main plaza in Madrid very popular with tourists and locals. In the past it was a market place. At the center is a bronze Statue of King Philips III. For centuries the Plaza Mayor has been the center of festivities, bull fights, royal coronations and executions. Today there it is using for lot of public celebrations.

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    The Frescoes

    by keeweechic Written Sep 22, 2009

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    The Casa de la Panaderia has some amazing allegorical paintings on its façade which were originally created by Jose Jimenez Donoso and Claudio Coello. They also were responsible for much of the decoration of the interior.

    The Casa de la Panaderia is open free to the public from 11.00am – 2.00pm and from 5.00pm – 8.00pm daily.

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    Casa de la Panadería

    by keeweechic Written Sep 22, 2009

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    The Casa de la Panderia is one of the impressive buildings of the Plaza Mayor. Standing on the north side of the square it was originally built by Juan Gomez de Mora of wood in 1590 however in 1670 it was destroyed by fire and had to be rebuilt this time by Juan de Villanueva. The building was originally Royal House bakery but later also housed the Royal Standard Weights and Measures Offices, the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando headquarters, the Madrid City Council and then the Municipal Library and Archives.

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    Arco de Cuchilleros

    by keeweechic Updated Sep 21, 2009

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    Arco de Cuchilleros is also known as the Cutlers Arch. This arched steep stairway is one of the entrances into the Plaza Mayor from the square of Cava de San Miguel. It was built during the 17th century to connect the lower levels into the Plaza Mayor.

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    Felipe III

    by keeweechic Written Sep 21, 2009

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    Down one end of one the Plaza Mayor is a sculpture of Felipe III which dates back to the 17th century. It was created by Giovanni de Bologna and Piertro Tacco and originally sat at Casa deCampo. It wasn’t until 1848 that it was moved to Plaza Mayor.

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    Popular Place

    by keeweechic Written Sep 21, 2009

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    The Plaza is popular as a cobbledstoned pedestrian area. All kinds of activities go on here from entertainment to massages. There are two main exits from the square linking some of the main streets such as Calle Mayor and Calle de Toledo.

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  • keeweechic's Profile Photo

    Plaza Mayor

    by keeweechic Written Sep 21, 2009

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    The Plaza Mayor is probably the main centre of Madrid which dates back to around 1620 It was originally a market place which sat outside the city walls. When the plaza was created, it was encased by wooden buildings which were destroyed by fire on three separate occasions over the years through to 1790. They were then all rebuilt.

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    Oldest or Grandest Madrid Square

    by grandmaR Updated Sep 20, 2009

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    Plaza Mayor from a tour bus in 1964
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    Everyone who comes to Madrid has to see the Plaza Mayor ("oldest square" or "grandest square") in Madrid. It was originaly constructed when Phillip II moved the capitol from Toledo in the 1560s.

    In 1992 when I was in Spain with my mom, we also saw the Plaza Mayor in Salamanca on a day trip from Madrid. The guide told us it was more important than the one in Madrid because it was still original, whereas Madrid's Plaza Mayor had been rebuilt several times after fires, and really dates only to 1790. In the center of the square is Giambologna's equestrian statue of Philip III (or Felipe iii) which was sculpted in 1616, but it was not placed in the center of the square until 1848.

    My sister and I saw the Plaza Mayor on a city tour. On our visit one of the balconies (photo 2) had banners and bunting hung from it which we were told was where the king sat to see shows and exhibitions in the square. It used to be used for bullfights, but I don't know if that was still the case in 1964.

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  • von.otter's Profile Photo

    A Historic Square

    by von.otter Updated Jul 28, 2009

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    Plaza Major, Madrid, December 2002
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    “God, who has given me so many Kingdoms to govern, has not given me a son fit to govern them.”
    — Felipe II (1527-1598)

    Plaza Mayor is Madrid’s original town square. Today, it still forms the center of a number of religious and cultural events. Completely enclosed on all four sides, the walls of the five storey apartments form a giant canvas on which various city symbols and scenes have been painted. Today, Madrid’s main square is almost entirely given over to the tourist industry, with numerous tapas bars and restaurants in the alcoves, underneath the arches or sprawling out into the square. Warning: the restaurants charge tourist prices. One of the restaurants, Sabrino de Botin, is officially recognized by the Guiness Book of Records as the world’s oldest, founded in 1725. During the Christmas season, in a practice that dates to 1860, vendors’ stands are set up in the square.

    Originally this area was known as Plaza del Arrabal, which was the meeting place for the town’s traders with those from Toledo, a larger city at the time. After Felipe II moved the government to Madrid in 1561, he ordered improvements to Madrid. By 1580 it was time for this square to have a makeover, but it took until 1590 before the building of one side of the plaza began; and it wasn’t until the reign of Felipe III (the unfit son that Felipe II laments about) that the order was given to enclose the square on all four sides.

    Between 1631 and 1790 three major fires devastated the Plaza. After the fires of 1631 and 1670, the plaza was rebuilt according to the original plan; however after the fire of 1790 the decision was made to reduce the height from five stories to its present form of three.

    Plaza Mayor has been used as a marketplace, as a bullfighting ring, and as a soccer stadium. Executions took place here as well, and depending on the form of execution, hanging, beheading, clubbing and stabbing, the stage would be located in a different area of the square. The Spanish Inquisition conducted the Pruebas de Fe (Test of faith), investigations and punishment, here. The Feast of San Isidro, patron saint of Madrid, is also celebrated in the square.

    In tune with the political upheavals that have Spain’s fate through the centuries Plaza Mayor has been known, at one time or another, as Plaza de la constitucion, Constitution Square; Plaza Real, Royal Square; and Plaza de la Republica, Square of the Republic.

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    Plaza Mayor

    by suvanki Updated Jun 30, 2009

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    Plaza Mayor Madrid
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    Plaza Mayor, or Major Square is one of Madrids popular sights. This square is surrounded by arcaded buildings, which house bars, cafes and restaurants.

    The centre of the square is dominated by a large equestrian statue of Felippe 111 (Philip 3rd), who planned this area in the 17th century.

    Originally the site of a fairground, the plaza was designed by Juan Gomez de Mora. The plaza has undergone many renovations and re buildings, mainly as a result of at least 3 fires.

    Through the centuries the square has been used for bull fights, markets, public gatherings, and even public executions.

    Today there are still markets held - During my 1st visit, stalls were being erected for what looked like a Christmas market. There were a few people gathered around eating bocadilloes or drinking coffee from disposable cartons under the ornate lampstands. Apparently these depict scenes from the squares past history.

    The ornate frescoes adorning the facade of the Casa de la Panaderia were added as recently as the late 20th Century.

    Leading off the square are many narrow streets with interesting shop fronts. The bars and cafes around the square are worth visiting to try a tasty snack such as squid sandwiches (Bocadillo Calamari)- a speciality of this area.

    Apparently, the square is a favourite haunt of pick-pockets and scammers- so as always, keep your valuables safely hidden, and be aware of people getting too close, causing diversions etc. As a solo female, I felt completely safe at both of my visits here though.

    The Tourist Information Office in the Square has daily guided walks around various sights. I joined one for a few hours, which was very interesting. (tip to follow later)

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    Old Madrid Plaza Mayor

    by fachd Updated May 29, 2009

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    Wondering around Madrid we stumbled upon a large rectangular cobbled stoned courtyard. Surrounded by red buildings and decorated with colourful murals. French doors with white shutters and wrought iron, framed the balconies beautifully. Twin towers with centered clocks dominated both ends of Plaza Mayor. An impressive statue of PhillipII on horse back sat in the middle of the square.

    There were tourists taking photos, buskers performing, street artist, police chatting, and people sitting drinking coffee at many of the shops. You'll find antique shops, bars and restaurants to cater tourist. The Plaza Mayor is not far from Puerta del Sol.

    It was built during (Phillip II) the Habsburg period. It was the work and designed by the architect Juan de Villanueva. In the old days the square was used for executions, inquisition trials, bullfights and tournaments. Today the Plaza is a place where tourist congregates, free concert, eating place and residential apartments.

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  • barbskie's Profile Photo

    Madrid's Main Square

    by barbskie Updated Feb 13, 2009

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    A beautiful and historic plaza, located not far from Puerta del Sol. There are many eye catching spots around the square, to name some are, the statue of Felipe III right at the center, the designs and drawings on the walls(mostly repainted according to the designs of Carlo Franco in 1992), the towers, cafes and restaurants under the arches. The square is mostly surrounded by a three-storey buildings with balconies looking out the area and the Casa de Panaderia at the north end has 4 storeys. Felipe II and his architect Juan de Hererra has originally planned the square. The inauguration took place during the reign of Felipe III in the 16th century.

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  • jumpingnorman's Profile Photo

    Plaza for Coronations and Executions in Madrid

    by jumpingnorman Written Jan 25, 2009

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    How can you not write a tip about this? I just got a map and walked off towards this major plaza which since the early 17th century has been the site of coronations, executions (you can still see the faces of the crowd --- can you imagine it?), Spanish Inquisition trials and even bullfights...But now, it has a lot of student hangouts, cafe's and restaurants, souvenir shops peripherally...and so on (tapa bars!!!).

    Just sit by one of the benches and just observe every day tourist life in Madrid. The colorful frescoes are wonderful at the Casa de La Panaderia (Bakery) and you can marvel at the Felipe III equestrian statue...

    Definitely a place you should not and could not miss when in Madrid!

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