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Plaza Mayor


Plaza Mayor

This square is located in the heart of Madrid, but in the Middle Ages the Plaza Mayor was outside the city walls and was then called Plaza de Arribal. At the time, it was the scene of horrific scenes and great celebrations: public burning of unbelievers and executions, but also bullfights, knight tournaments and royal weddings. There was also a market on the square and the streets around it. The names of these streets are a reminder of which companies were established there: Calle de Cuchilleros (knives), Calle de Lechuga (vegetables), Calle de Fresa (fruit), and Calle de Botoneros (buttons). The square burned to the ground no less than three times, in 1631, 1672 and 1790.

After the last fire, the square was completely rebuilt by architect Juan de Villanueva. The large square of about 100 x 120 meters is surrounded by colonnades with shops, restaurants and bars. On the square itself street musicians and portrait artists can regularly be found. No motorized traffic is allowed on the Plaza Mayor. So this square is an oasis of tranquillity in the sometimes chaotic Madrid. On Sunday mornings there is a stamp and coin market and around Christmas time the square is the scene of a large Christmas market. Then they also sell tricks for Día de los Inocentes, the Spanish version of 1 April. That day falls on December 28th

In the vicinity of Plaza Mayor there are several sights that are worth a visit. Take a look at the always busy indoor market Mercado de San Miguel at the Plaza de San Miguel. Here you can buy local delicacies and fresh products.