La Plaza Mayor, Madrid

Madrid's Plaza Mayor at night

The Plaza Mayor is Madrid's main square. It is located right in the centre of the city, just a few minutes walk from the Puerta del Sol.

Despite the rather high prices charged by the restaurants and cafés under the arches that skirt the square, this is still a marvellous place to sit out, try some good Spanish wine, sample some tasty tapas and watch the passers-by.

Tourist Accommodation Near the Plaza Mayore, Madrid

Since it is located in the historic centre of Madrid, staying in this area is ideal to see the city's sights and monuments. The following link shows places to stay within 1000 metres of this majestic Plaza ...

The square was originally planned by Felipe II and his architect Juan de Herrera, but was inaugurated in 1620 during Felipe III's reign, whose statue sits proud in the very centre of the square. Juan Gómez de Mora gave it its rectangular form, and after it had suffered three fires Juan de Villanova completed the work in 1853 by joining the four sides.

Over the years, the square has had many different names. Located at the confluence of the paths towards Toledo and Atocha, it was originally the site of the "Plaza del Arrabal" market and thus took this name before later becoming the Plaza Mayor.

Since then it has also been called the Plaza de la Constitución, Plaza Real and Plaza de la República before returning to the now famous Plaza Mayor name at the end of the Spanish Civil War. Public executions, crowning ceremonies, bullfights, Inquisition trials and diverse fiestas have all taken place right here in the square.

The square is mostly surrounded by three-storey houses with balconies looking out onto the square and still lived in by the fortunate few.

La Casa de la Panadería, Plaza Mayor, Madrid

Located at the north end of the square resides the four-storey Casa de la Panadería building, supposedly named after the bakery it replaced.

The construction of this building and its colourful façade of frescos was initiated in 1590 and it has been renovated several times over the years, most recently when the frescos were repainted with designs by Carlos Franco, in 1992.

Top Plaza Mayor photo courtesy of guidacla on Flickr