Plaza Mayor, Madrid!

And now let me bring out a very popular square, besides if visited Madrid you will not be able to tell much if not had visited the Plaza Mayor. I am coming to it and see its transformation since childhood and always amazes me to see it. It is part of the quinssentional Madrid. And  a great spot to look down on it or as we say, from Madrid to heaven and a hole in the sky to look down on it every day.

I have written bits on it , more on the touristic side, will like to dwell on this post on the historical side I like. First, let me show you my earlier post on the Plaza Mayor here: Plaza Mayor

Madrid

Located in the district of the Centro and in the neighborhood  of Sol, near the Puerta del Sol, the square is in the form of a rectangle of 129 by 94 meters. Fully pedestrianized, it is accessible by ten entrances, several of which connect it to Calle Mayor, in the north.  The origins of the square date back to the 16C, when it was one of the limits of the city.

Madrid

Madrid

When at the confluence of the roads (today Streets) of Toledo and Atocha, on the outskirts of the medieval village, was celebrated in this site, known as Plaza del Arrabal, the main market of the village, building at this time the arcaded  house , or Lonja, to regulate the trade in the square . Named Plaza de la Villa, it then houses the main municipal market and undergoes first transformations which aim to equip it with a hall or market. In 1580, King Felipe II ordered plans to redevelop it. The work begins from 1590 with the construction of the House of the bakery (Casa de la Panadería), to replace the old Hall. In 1617, Felipe III continued the project, which was completed two years later.

Madrid

Between 1631 and 1790, the square is ravaged by three fires that impose its reconstruction every time. The last of these is the work of Juan de Villanueva, which was pursued by the architects Aguado and Moreno on his death. It was only at the completion of the project, in 1854, that the place took its present form, notably marked by lower buildings (three floors instead of five) and a series of arcades.  In 1848, the equestrian statue of king Felipe III, produced by Jean de Bologna and Pietro Tacca at the beginning of the 17C, was placed in the center.

Madrid

Originally known as Plaza de la Villa, it then takes the one of Plaza Mayor. In 1812, by decree, the most important squares in Spain were all renamed Plaza de la Constitucion in honor of the new constitution. The place thus bears this name until the restoration of king Fernando VII in 1814, when it became the Plaza Real, before becoming the Plaza de la Constitucion three times (1820-1823, 1833-1835 and 1840-1843). Renamed  Plaza de la Republica in 1873, and then again in the Constitution after the restoration, it retained this last name until the beginning of the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera. The proclamation of the Second Republic provokes a new change in favor of the Plaza de la Constitucion, but at the end of the Spanish Civil War it takes over the name we know today, as Plaza Mayor.

Madrid

Delimited by a set of granite arcades, the square is surrounded with three-stories apartment buildings and 237 balconies. Under the arcades, galleries house a set of traditional shops, as well as specialized shops.

Casa de la Panaderia or House of the bakery ,first seat of the royal administration of weights and measures, it shelters from 1745 to 1774 the Royal Academy of Fine Arts San Fernando, then until 1871 the Royal Academy of History. Since then it has been hosting various municipal services.  After the second fire suffered by the square, in 1672, the Casa de la Panaderia  is redecorated and adorned with frescoes designed by Claudio Coello and José Jiménez Donoso. In 1988, the municipality organized a competition to modify these frescoes. Mythological figures (Cybele, Proserpine, Bacchus, Cupid, etc.) and imaginaries are then carried out. The last of the performances in the Plaza Mayor, carried out in 1992, consisted of the mural decoration, work of Carlos Franco, of the Casa de la Panaderia, representing mythological characters like the goddess Cibeles. The tourist office of the city is also on the square, in the famous Casa de la Panaderia!

In the centered upper part of the Casa de la Panaderia  is carved in stone a blazon with the weapons of king Carlos II. Given the absence of Portugal’s weapons, it can be deduced that the shield was styled at a later date than 1668, when the Spanish Crown recognized the independence of Portugal, which was de facto from 1640. The shield is composed of the arms of Castilla and León , in the first quadrant; the arms of Aragon and Sicily, in the second; the weapons of Austria and modern Burgundy, in the third; those of ancient Burgundy and Brabant, in the fourth, those of Flanders and Tyrol in the escutcheon below and the symbol of Granada in the center of the Shield .

Casa de la Carniceria or house of the butchers located on the south side, it is originally built on an unknown date. After the fire of 1631, it is rebuilt on the model of the Casa de la Panaderia or house of the bakery. It owes its name to the fact that it first served as a general store for meat.

Arcos de Cuchilleros or  Arch of Cutlers located at the southwest corner, it is the work of Juan de Villanueva, who designs it with an important difference in level in order to connect it to the edge of the square. It owes its name to the old calle de Cuchilleros, a corporation that provided the butchers of the market square. Below the staircase there are many typical restaurants. The Arcos de Cuchilleros is perhaps the most famous of the ten accesses of the Plaza Mayor  ( like Calle 7 de Julio, Arco de Triunfo, and Felipe III to the north; Sal, Zaragoza and Gerona to the east; Botoneras, Toledo and Cuchilleros to the south (the official name of this access is Calle de la Escalerilla de Piedra (ladder of stone); and Ciudad Rodrigo to the west, and located in the southwest corner of the square:Plaza Mayor. There is another entry by the left of the Casa de la Carniceria  that has no exit to the square, and another arch on the left of the facade smaller that also has no exit to the square. This is my most memorable part of the square.

Madrid

The square is one of the most active centers of the 17C Madrid. Shows of all kinds are held there such as bullfights, trials of the Inquisition, lumberjacks, etc. The crowd attends these public acts from the balconies overlooking it.  Nowadays it is an indispensable site of Madrid tourism and one of the emblems of the capital. Summer and end of year holidays are the most lively times.

Madrid

And now it is time for the anniversary, happy birthday Plaza Mayor!  The exhibition La Plaza Mayor. Retrato y Máscara de Madrid or Portrait and Mask of Madrid is showing at the Museo de Historia de Madrid or History museum of Madrid  until November 11th 2018.  Location: Calle Fuencarral 78, get there on metro Tribunal lines 1 and 10 as well as Bus lines 3 , 21 , 40 , 147 ,and 149. Admission is Free.  Plaza Mayor celebrates 400 years as the beating heart of Spain’s capital. The exhibit shows how the square has taken on the character of each new era in Spanish history. Large portion of the second half of the exhibit, which shows Plaza Mayor’s metamorphosis from 1843 to 2018, is devoted to the photographs of Martín Santos Yubero. With good reason, Santos Yubero was renowned for his documentary coverage of Madrid, which spanned the better part of the 20C. The History Museum does tourists and locals a favor with its detailed account of one of the capital’s main thoroughfares. Just as Madrid has become a center for government, art, nightlife and football, Plaza Mayor is all at once,market, park, cafe and stage. Don’t let the pricey drinks fool you: underneath all the gaudiness lie 400 years of la vida Madrileña (Madrilene lives). More in Spanish on the city of Madrid webpage:  City of Madrid on the event at museum of History

Madrid

Tourist office of Madrid ,general info on the History Museum: Madrid tourist office on History Museum

Some additional webpages to help you plan your trip to the Plaza Mayor are

tourist office of Madrid on Plaza Mayor

Comunidad de Madrid tourism on the Plaza Mayor

There you go, now you are all set to visit this wonderful old square ,only in time as it is always young and vibrant, the heartbeat of Madrid 17C and 21C :Enjoy it.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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