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Plaza Mayor of Madrid

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143 reviews of Plaza Mayor of Madrid

7
See Pedro Jareño's photos
7 photos

Constant movement in a static time

The Plaza Mayor of Madrid might be the most emblematic place in the capital, justifiably. Most of the old Spanish cities have a Plaza Mayor, but the one in Madrid is especially beautiful. Dominated by an equestrian statue and the hundreds of tourists accumulating next to it, the colors, the beauty and the constant movement year after year, give a special value to the square.It is the ideal place to go have tapas or a beer, as well as one of the traditional "bocadillos de calamares" (fried octopus sandwich). I highly recommend this place that you can't miss out on if you visit Madrid.
Pedro Jareño
5
See SerViajera's photos
5 photos

Around plaza mayor

It is quite hard to choose which of the small streets you should take to get to Plaza Mayor, emblem of the so-called Madrid de los Austrias. I loved the passage of San Ginés, where you can find the wonderful Chocolatería founded in 1890. The Postas street is also something: it has the Posada del Peine, the oldest accommodation in Madrid, closed after four centuries and now turned into a high-tech hotel.

The craftsmen used to work around the square, in Bordadores, Esparteros and Cuchilleros streets. Plaza Mayor was the main market since the 15th century. Enclosed on all four sides, the square housed two of the most important professions: the butchers and the bakers.

Now this territory belongs to street painters and tourists, which, according to their budget, either sit down at tables or take their kebab and vegetarian meals and sit down on the sunny pavement to eat.
SerViajera
4
See Miguel Angel Rumayor's photos
4 photos

Exceptional

Any day of the year, at any time, there is no better place to meet someone than Plaza Mayor. Here is where we start our visit of the Madrid of the Habsburgs today.

Starting at the place first called Plaza del Arrabal can be somewhat dangerous: we don’t want to leave; we’d rather stay in this small, warm and lovely world, surrounded by endless arcades. This is how it was conceived when, without bragging, the world was Spain and Spain was Plaza Mayor. This inclusion almost mystical started in the head of its promoter, Felipe II and his first architect's, Juan de Herrera; it is the year 1561. Since then it stayed the same, despite all the changes by some of the best architects: Diego de Sillero, Juan Gómez de Mora, Sabatini, Juan de Villanueva, in 1590, 1619, 1790, 1854.

Oh how beautiful to enter through any of the nine doors before going down the Arch of Cuchilleros! We from a dark passage to a blinding central space.

You will find some friends there, or, even better, everyone will become your friend: the passers-by, the mimes, the human statues, the idle ones, the poets, the painters... the waiters... What would you like sir? Be careful with what you order! Felipe III is carefully looking at you and nothing escapes his eyes, erected in the middle of the square, on his horse.

"I am leaving but I will come back," you tell him, going down from one of the nine exits: the steps of the Arch of Cuchilleros.
Miguel Angel Rumayor
6
See María Alba's photos
6 photos

A charming square

Plaza Mayor is one of Madrid’s most charming places, at least for me. I love just walking around the area and exploring the smaller streets around the square. If the weather abides, you can have a drink in one of the square’s terraces. You can also try a to-die-for calamari sandwich, which is something very typical of Plaza Mayor. At Christmas time, the square fills up with vendors selling ornaments, wigs, hats, or gag gifts for dia de los santos inocentes (a Spanish holiday similar to April Fool’s Day).
I remember I got really excited when I was living abroad and I was watching a video of “WheretheHellisMatt?” and I saw Plaza Mayor in one of the funniest moments. I missed Spain a lot in that moment and for this reason I always get a bit sentimental when I’m there. Plaza Mayor is another must-see place in Madrid, I guarantee it!
María Alba
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14
See TINTIN08's photos
14 photos

I remember it for christmas

Located very close to Puerta del Sol, it is full of terraces year long (be careful about what you buy there, you can spend half your salary). The construction of the three-floor buildings is harmonious and the equestrian statue of Felipe III really stands out. They say bullfights and auto-da-fé were celebrated there but I will personally remember what it has to offer during Christmas nowadays, when the square gets full of stands selling all types of small figures for the nativity scene, the Christmas tree or to get dressed during those days. They also put a carousel delighting children.
TINTIN08
5
See Alejandra Yáñez's photos
5 photos

Exploring the streets

As usual, we begin in Puerta del Sol, and head towards Plaza Mayor. We take Mayor St. and the make a turn onto Postas St. (filled with souvenir shops) which empties into the Plaza Mayor (1848). In times gone by, it was a meeting point in the city, which meant that there you could find anything from a festival to a bullfight to an execution. Of the latter, it's interesting to note that the condemned prisoners were made to face a different building depending on their method of execution: hanging, beheading, or the garrote, an elaborate strangulation machine. Nowadays, Madrileños use the square to enjoy a Christmas market as well as a stamp and coin collector’s market on Sundays and holidays.
It’s also a meeting point for tourists and a place where you can find establishments dating back to the Old Court such as the La Favorita and Casa Yustas hat stores, both dating back to 1894. They’re one of the few places in the city where you can see traditional Cordoba-style monteras and sombreros along with more modern, fashion-conscious models. The terraces in Plaza Mayor are among the most popular in the city, but if you are looking for a really authentically Madrileño experience, you should choose one of the small places specializing in calamari sandwiches and enjoy your snack under the statue of Philip III or in front of La Casa de la Panadería, once one of the city’s preeminent taverns.
Leaving Plaza Mayor through the Cuchilleros Arch, your best bet is to explore the smaller streets. I’d propose that intrepid travelers get lost among the small streets that lead towards Bailén Street. Start by taking Cava de San Miguel St., then go up Conde de Miranda St and enjoy the small square located there. Then, go down Codo St. until you reach the Apostolic Nunciature of Madrid. Continue down Sacramento St. until you arrive at Mayor St. and head down to Bailén St where you can find the Almudena Cathedral and the Royal Palace.
The path is covered in plaques which commemorate historic events or a building’s illustrious occupants. Most of the people mentioned will probably, and unfortunately, be unknown to foreigners, but to me they are fantastic, like a history book made reality. I should mention two places: First, Villa Square, where you can find a statue of Admiral Álvaro de Bazán, the pedestal of which is adorned with phrases by Lope de Vega. Second, the Jardín del Convento, a shop specializing in “sinfully delicious” religious-themed sweets which smells so good that passersby can’t help but enter.

By now, you’ve spent 12 intense hours exploring the area around Plaza Mayor, but to see everything you’d have to spend 24 more. As Kelly Clarkson said, “that which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.”
One final piece of advice: if you’re a tourist, bring a bottle of water, energy bar, enough change to take the public transportation, a light jacket, and a card which shows the address of your accommodations. You never know if you’ll have time to stop and eat or how tired you’ll be or just how arctic a particular restaurant’s air-conditioning might be.
Alejandra Yáñez
2
See Norberto Muñoz's photos
2 photos

Plaza mayor de madrid

Plaza Mayor de Madrid
Norberto Muñoz
10
See Nina*'s photos
10 photos
Nina*
5
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Natalia Perazzo
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Alicia Ortego
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madi86
7
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Benoit Penant
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macmuseo
5
See Víctor Gómez - machbel's photos
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Víctor Gómez - machbel
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ANADEL
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