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As you walk down Calle Mayor from Puerta del Sol towards the Royal Palace, you might think it would be easy to spot the Plaza Mayor. From the street known as Mayor, the building surrounding the Plaza Mayor does not stand out from other structures; you will need to look closely for the passageways that are the entrances to this plaza.
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The Plaza Mayor has been the site of executions, tournaments, weddings, bullfights and Inquisition trials. This very large square is surrounded completely by one very large square building from which onlookers perched to view the festivities in the square below.

The Plaza Mayor: This view shows one small section of the building that surrounds the plaza. (This north side is known as Casa Panaderia.)

Much of the history of Madrid, and Spain, is tied to this 17th century plaza, and today it is still very close to the heart of many a Madridian. Visiting the square, you will not witness any executions, but you might witness a coin or stamp show (on Sundays), a free concert, or residents taking their evening strolls.

A street artist in the Plaza Mayor.

In the summer the Mayor square is full of tables. Take a seat in one during lunch or dinner and a waiter will arrive from one of the surrounding restaurants with a menu in hand. The square is often used as a central meeting location for tourist families and tourist groups.

On the ground floor level of the Plaza Mayor building are cafes, bars, shops, and restaurants, most catering to the tourist. Among the shops can be found dealers in antiques, coins, and military memorabilia.

Photo Left: Through one of the Plaza Mayor's portals can be seen the twin towers of Catedral de San Isidro.

Philip II ordered the construction of the square as part of his plan to make Madrid the capitial of Spain. In the center of the plaza sits the statue of Philip III, straddling his horse. He is honored here for completing the construction of the square in 1619 A.D.

Above : A small detail of the painting adorning the section of the Plaza Mayor known as Casa Panaderia. This painting was added to the square after Casa Panaderia was rebuilt in 1692 due to a fire.

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This page last updated November 2004