Plaza Mayor Madrid
The Plaza Mayor Madrid dates back to the 15th century when it was originally called the “Plaza del Arrabal” and was used as the main market of the town.
- Name: Plaza Mayor Madrid
- Location: Madrid, Spain
- Built: 1621
- Type of attraction: Architectural/Square
- Ticket price: Free
Today, the Plaza Mayor Madrid is rectangular in shape and it features uniformity of the architecture. The Plaza measures 129 m x 94 m and there are 237 balconies overlooking the square from the three-story residential buildings that face inward towards the Plaza. To enter or exit The Plaza Mayor, there are ten entrances to choose from. There are several events hosted in the Plaza throughout the year.
Here are main attractions in the square:
Casa de la Panadería
Diego Sillero erected Casa de la Panaderia in 1590, but only the cellar and ground level of the original structure exist today. Nonetheless, it served as a model for the rest of the structures in the area. Among the many roles it has played in the past is that of the town’s primary bakery, which set the price of bread such that even the poorest citizens could afford it.
The royal quarters, the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts, and the History Academy have all been located there. The Plaza Mayor Tourist Center now occupies the space. Due to successive reforms and restorations, the decoration on the façade that we see today was not always the same in the past. Carlos Franco’s murals on the façade depict legendary figures associated with Madrid’s past, such as the goddess Cybele.
Arco de Cuchilleros
Fire has played a significant influence in shaping the square’s look on multiple times. The most devastating was in 1790, prompting a reconstruction by architect Juan de Villanueva, who reduced the building fronts by two levels, enclosed the plaza at its corners, and built nine entrance arches.
The Arco de los Cuchilleros, with its steep steps going up to the square, is the most well-known of the arches due to its imposing aspect. Because of their height and leaning façades that serve as buttresses, the picturesque buildings along this street catch the attention.
Cuchilleros gets its name from the cutlers’ workshops that used to be here and supplied knives to the butchers in Plaza Mayor, where Casa de la Carnicera, originally the general meat deposit, is now.
Statue of Philip III
One of the most valuable works of art to be found on the streets of Madrid is a statue of the king on horseback. It was designed by Giambologna and completed by Pietro Tacca in 1616, and it guarded the entrance of Casa de Campo for generations until it was borrowed by Queen Isabel II in 1848 and placed in Plaza Mayor.
The statue has only been removed from what is arguably Madrid’s most prominent square during the two Republics.
Interesting facts about Plaza Mayor Madrid
- It is so large, about 50,000 people can fit there without crowding.
- It was partially or fully destroyed by three massive fires in its history – in the years of 1631, 1670 and 1790.
- The square is a home to the world’s oldest restaurant – Sobrino de Botin.