The square is 129 meters long by 94 meters wide, surrounded by three-story buildings with porches all along the plaza. Historically it's been a meeting place, and used for civil announcements and celebrations. It's filled with commemorative plaques, historic places and other symbols.
Various architects were commissioned to design the Plaza Mayor, but the two most important were Juan de Herrera and Juan Gómez de Mora, who were given the task of designing the first project during the sixteenth century. After a series of fires, Plaza Mayor has been rebuilt several times throughout history. To get there, you can use one of the various gates, each one with a special charm.
During the fifteenth century, Plaza Mayor was called Plaza del Arrabal and then renamed Plaza de la Constitución, Plaza Real and Plaza de la República. After the end of the Spanish Civil War, the square was given the name of Plaza Mayor, which it still bears today.
The Plaza Mayor houses three famous landmarks and buildings:
- Equestrian statue of Philip III: This sculpture was designed in 1616 by Juan de Bolonia and Pietro Tacca. It was given as a present by the Duke of Florence to the King of Spain. Until the mid-nineteenth century, the statue was kept in the Casa de Campo (Madrid’s largest park).
- Casa de la Panadería: The plaza’s most striking building is the Casa de la Panadería and was the first to be established, in 1590. It was initially the most important bakery in Madrid. Its remarkable façade was decorated by Carlos Franco.
- El Arco de Cuchilleros: Is the most famous of the nine entrances to Plaza Mayor. This porch is named after the street with the same name.
Plaza Mayor at Christmas time
Every Christmas, for nearly 150 years, Plaza Mayor has housed a traditional Christmas market full of Christmas decorations, costumes and items that make great presents.