Madrid’s Plaza Mayor
One of Madrid’s most iconic destinations is situated right in the heart of the city: the Plaza Mayor. Regal and historic, Plaza Mayor and the narrow streets surrounding it are the ideal place to spend a few hours when visiting Madrid. Constructed between 1617 and 1619 under King Philip III, this central square has undergone numerous renovations and has been home to an array of public uses. Until 1936, the open space in the center of Plaza Mayor was maintained as a botanical garden and at other points though out its history the square was used to host a variety of local events, from bullfights to public decrees.
When you enter Plaza Mayor, you’ll pass through one of its four corners under expansive archways and be greeted by perennial artists, street performers and open-air cafés. A semi-covered walkway lines the entire perimeter of the inner square where restaurants and traditional shops entice walkers-by with their food and wares. As for nibbles, we reccomend you act like a local and stop by Cervecería Plaza Mayor to snack on a bocadillo de calamares, the fried squid sandwiches for which the Plaza Mayor area has become famous.
Although Plaza Mayor has seen a lot of change over the years, you will find the same characteristic architecture remains today, paved with cobblestones and enclosed by strikingly uniform red apartment buildings on all four sides. Plaza Mayor’s most prominent building stands apart from the rest thanks to a colorful mural that decorates its exterior, the only section of the surrounding buildings that was spared from ruin during not one, but two fires that brought the rest of the plaza to the ground! Rebuilt and renewed, this central Madrid hub is where Spanish history comes alive; spend some time here with a tour of old Madrid or simply relax on a terraza and people watch. Depending on when you visit, Plaza Mayor may play host to any number of seasonal exhibitions, but one thing remains certain throughout the year, it’s always abuzz with life, waiting for you to discover a lingering glimpse of an old Spanish village in on of Europe’s largest cities!
Where to Eat Near Plaza Mayor
Mercado San Miguel: You’ll find this stunning steel and glass gastro-market just outside the West entrance to Plaza Mayor, a great locale to introduce yourself to some Spanish drinks and tapas.
Casa Revuelta: Home to some the best bacalao in Madrid and lucky for visitors of Plaza Mayor, it’s a 5-minute walk down Calle Toledo.
Calle Cava Baja: If you leave Plaza Mayor with a larger appetite, stroll down Cava Baja street, one of the La Latina neighborhood’s hottest spots for traditional taverns, tapas crawls and imbibing.
Hotels Near Plaza Mayor
Budget: Posada del Dragón
This boutique hotel is situated over the ruins of what used to be a soap factory on Calle Cava Baja. It’s small, unique and offers an impressive breakfast buffet to guests. » book a room
Author: Elizabeth Schaller