Learn the history of the Plaza Mayor in Madrid

The Plaza Mayor of Madrid is one of the most emblematic monuments of the capital of Spain.It is located in the heart of Madrid de los Austrias, near Calle Mayor. Next to the Puerta del Sol, the Royal Palace or the Almudena Cathedral, it is one of the places of mandatory stop for every tourist who visits the city for the first time. This is his story.

The origin of the Plaza Mayor of Madrid

Before the Plaza Mayor existed, the place was known as "Plaza del Arrabal" and it was where the main market was held from the town of Madrid during the 16th century. This location was chosen because the roads of Toledo and Atocha converged on it.

Later, when King Felipe II had already moved his court from Toledo to Madrid, in 1580 he commissioned the remodeling of the square to the architect Juan de Herrera. The works began that same year. However, in the reform of the square continued his successors: Felipe III and Carlos II. The works were completed in 1619 by Juan Gómez de Mora, already during the reign of Felipe III.

Plaza Mayor - Maylat

Interesting facts about the Plaza Mayor in Madrid

The square is 129 meters long and 94 meters wide and a total of 237 balconies. It has ten accesses, six of them with large arches that open to the streets 7 de Julio and Felipe III to the north; Salt and Girona to the east; Toledo to the south and Ciudad Rodrigo to the west.

There are two more arches that do not coincide with any exit from the square and three accesses without an arch: the Arc de Triomphe, Zaragoza and Buttons. The last access, and the best known, is the Arc of Knives.

What to see in the Plaza Mayor of Madrid

Despite being practically four centuries standing, Madrid's Plaza Mayor has survived three major fires in its history. The first occurred a few years after its completion, in 1631. The second occurred in 1670. The damage was restored until the last, which occurred in 1790, resulted in the corners of the square being closed.

Since then, some parts of the Plaza Mayor have been restored to result in what we now know about it. These are the attractions of the square that you can not miss:

1. Bakery House

Bakery House - Franck Boston

It is the most famous building in the Plaza Mayor in Madrid. It was the first one that was built, in the year 1590, from the main tahona of the town, which was where the bread was made. It is an easily recognizable building, because its facade is decorated by mythological images.

Initially it had four floors, a porticoed entrance and two towers in the corners, but they were destroyed during the fire of 1670. It has hosted the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando and the Royal Academy of History. Today they are municipal agencies. In the centered upper part you can find a blazon carved in stone with the weapons of King Carlos II.

2. Statue of Philip III

Statue Felipe III - ManuelfromMadrid

It was a gift given by the Grand Duke of Florence to the king of Spain, although he initially settled in the Casa de Campo. Currently, it is located in the center of the Plaza Mayor and was made by Juan de Bologna and his disciple Pietro Tacca, ending in the year 1616. It was placed in the Plaza Mayor by Queen Elizabeth II, who ordered his transfer in the year 1848

After the proclamation of the First Spanish Republic, he retired from the square for fear that he suffered acts of vandalism. It was like this until Alfonso XII sent it back in place. In 1931, with the Second Republic, he suffered an attack. Specifically, they introduced an explosive device into the horse's mouth. It had to be restored and the mouth sealed to avoid similar acts.

3. Bow of Knives

Knife Arc - Manuel / Flickr.com

It is the best known of the ten accesses that the Plaza Mayor of Madrid has. It stands out for its beauty, although it cannot be appreciated from the inside due to the arcades of the square. It has a staircase to bridge the gap between the square and the Cava de San Miguel.

The origin of the name is due to the exit of Cuchilleros street. In it were installed the workshops of the knife guild, responsible for supplying items to the butchers of the square. Currently, behind this arch are some of the typical bars and restaurants in Madrid.

A special place

Plaza Mayor - Mayla-

The Plaza Mayor is an important tourist spot where thousands of tourists come together every year. It is also one of the most beautiful and most historic places in the Spanish capital.

«It is a place worthy of its fame; not so much for its greatness and its beauty as for the people, for the life and for the variety of the spectacle that it presents at all hours of the day. It is not a place like the others: it brings together the qualities of a hall, a walk, a theater, an academy, a garden, a plaza de armas and a market. »

- Edmundo de Amicis -

Under its arcades there are numerous commercial premises, especially hospitality. Y they usually take advantage of their space for festivals, especially during the holidays of San Isidro. In addition, every year in December is the scene of the traditional Christmas market, a custom that has been in force since 1860.

Video: Madrid - History, Delicious Tapas and Famous Sights SPAIN (January 2020).