Before Madrid was a capital of great avenues and boulevards, its map was made up of small streets and passages, which today take us to times of swordsmen and rogues.

The Plaza Mayor measures 129 meters long by 94 meters wide and is surrounded by arcades and three-story buildings.

In the construction of the square several architects intervened, among which Juan de Herrera and Juan Gómez de Mora stand out, since they were the true creators. With the passage of time and the different fires suffered, the Plaza Mayor has been rebuilt and reformed several times.

Points of interest in the square

In the Plaza Mayor we can find three places of special interest.

  • Statue of Felipe III: Created in 1616 by Juan de Bolonia and Pietro Tacca, it was a gift from the Duke of Florence to the Spanish king. Until the mid-nineteenth century was in the Casa de Campo.
  • Casa de la Panadería: It is the most important building and was the first to begin construction in 1590. Initially it was the most important tahona in Madrid. The facade is decorated by Carlos Franco.
  • The Arc de Cuchilleros: This arch is the best known of the nine access doors that the Plaza Mayor has. The name comes from the street with which it communicates, Cuchilleros street.

Also popular is the market on Sunday mornings, which is installed under its porticoed corridors, in which items are bought and sold mainly in numismatics and philately, but also other objects such as old books and magazines, prints, watches or pens.

Plaza Mayo Madrid
Plaza Mayo Madrid / Photo by Pixabay

A little history

The Plaza Mayor in its origins was known as the square of the Arrabal, to be located in the suburb of Santa Cruz, outside the walled enclosure of the city. Very close to the famous gate of Guadalajara, at the confluence of the roads of Toledo, Alcalá and Atocha. The chosen place was an old dried out lagoon belonging to the Lujanes family. The Plaza was formed by a market without any order or concert, under the arcades of some of the houses of merchants who lived in this area, mostly Jews.

Mapa Plaza Mayor en el siglo XV
Photo by plazamayormadrid4c

The fact of choosing this secluded place for the trade, was none other than avoiding the toll, the commercial rate that had to be paid for the sale of goods within the city. In this way, the goods that were sold in the Plaza del Arrabal were cheaper than in the intramural markets. This created a great movement of merchants and buyers around this place, becoming in a short time one of the most frequented places by the locals.

Little by little they were created around the limits of the Plaza a series of houses of better invoice that were ennobling the area and giving it a more urban aspect. In the year 1494, in the time of the Catholic Monarchs, the Plaza del Arrabal began to be regularized both in the urban and commercial sense, according to the royal dispositions.

Images of the Plaza Mayor


Useful / Tourist Information

Address Plaza Mayor, 28012 Madrid. MAP
How to get Metro
Sol (L1, L2, L3), Tirso de Molina (L1)
3, 17, 18, 23, 31
Train / Cercanías
Price Free