Plaza Mayor - Plaza Mayor information and pictures
The Plaza Mayor
is a popular Madrid
tourist destination featuring Renaissance architecture, shops, tapas cafes and street entertainers. Visitors to Madrid should be sure to make a stop to this vast, rectangular square for prime al fresco dining, people watching and to take in the special atmosphere that is Madrid. Dominated by a bronze statue of King Phillip III on horseback and lined with red brick, three story continuous buildings, the plaza is a lovely old world spot to take in some sun and watch the world go by.
Buildings Destroyed by Fire
- Although most of the original plaza buildings were constructed in 1617 under the reign of King Phillip III, three fires wiped out all the buildings during the ensuing years of 1631, 1672 and 1790. Architect, Juan de Villanueva designed the last reconstruction of the plaza buildings in the last decade of the 1700s. The stonework and walls however, date to 1617 when architect, Juan Gómez de la Mora first built this massive plaza that was once the site of an old Arab marketplace.
Public Celebrations and Bullfights
- The Plaza Mayor has always been the centerpiece of Madrid’s public celebrations, royal coronations, bullfight spectacles and once, the site of the notorious punishments, “autos de fe” carried out under the dark days of the Spanish Inquisition. The plaza hosted the coronations of King Philip V, Ferdinand VI and Charles IV.
Today, the always crowded, Plaza Mayor now hosts popular rare coin and antique shows, as well as the always popular, Christmas market and summer concerts. Visitors can stroll the windy alleyways of the plaza to shop for souvenirs and military artifacts and stop for a drink and a Madrid favorite, Bocadillo Calamari, a delicious squid sandwich.
- The Casa de la Panadería is the most visited building in the plaza. This Flemish style building, that once housed the influential baker’s guild, was first constructed in 1590. With its red brickwork, dominating twin towers, spires and a colorful wall mural, the Casa de la Panadería stands out along the plaza’s buildings and is open to visitors.
The stately bronze statue of King Phillip III is another landmark of note. The Italian artist, Giovanni de Bologna designed it in 1616. Visitors should also take the time to view the magnificent nine arched doorways to the plaza, carved out of the 17th century stone walls. The Arco de Cuchilleros, reached from Cuchilleros Street, is particularly noteworthy for its decorative stone arch of the swordsmen, once a site where locals could get their dull blades and swords sharpened.
How to get to Plaza Mayor: By Subway to Sol station; Line 1,2,3
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