Madrid Plaza Mayor is one of the most visited public spaces in the city. Though this square is infested with tourists from all over the world, it still oozes with a cultural vibe that the city is know for. This place is both loved and frequented by locals and strangers in the city. Despite its dark history, the square remains a must-go to when you’re in Madrid.
The main square has been through a lot of name changes. It was originally called Plaza del Arrabal, then it became known as: Plaza de la Constitucion, Plaza Real, Plaza de la Republica, etc…
The plaza was once used as a venue for bullfighting, soccer games, and fiesta celebration to honour Madrid’s Patron Saint, San Isidor. And most of all, it’s a witness to the brutality of the Spanish Inquisition.
Plaza Mayor is the pulsating heart of Madrid. From here, you can walk to other attractions you’d like to go.
While the ground floor is occupied with businesses, mostly restaurants, the upper floors are residential apartments with wrought iron balconies for the fortunate locals.
Though the tapas here are a bit pricey, getting a table outside is a perfect place for people watching. And oh, tapas are good with wine, too! 😉 At weekends, some outdoor entertainment are in progress.
On the north side of the square, you’ll see the zodiac frescoes painted in 1992 to celebrate the city’s appointment as the European Capital of Culture.
There’s a Royal Crown on top and a coat of arms just below it.
In the middle is the statue of King Felipe III on his horse.
Just outside the Southwestern corner gate of the plaza, you’ll find the former hideout of the Robinhood of Madrid (now a restaurant), Las Cuevas de Luis Candelas. Few steps from here, you’ll see Botin Restaurant, designated by the Guinness Book of Records as the World’s Oldest Restaurant. Ernest Hemingway used to frequent here and he wrote about it on his novel, The Sun Also Rises.
Outside the western gate, try some of the delicious Spanish cuisine at Mercado de San Miguel. When you’re done eating your main dish, walk to the north side of the square and indulge yourself in churros and chocolate at Chocolateria de San Gines. To burn all the calories intake, walk to the splendid Palacio Real.