In my opinion, Plaza Mayor is a MUST VISIT Madrid tourist spot if you have never seen such architecture before.
Plaza – is a square where people gather
Mayor – means big or grand
It was built during the year 1598-1621 of Philip III’s reign. The plaza is rectangular in shape and on top are the residential buildings. OMG, people do live here! I wonder how much the rental is. Quite costly I suppose as it is central Madrid.
There are a lot of plazas in Spain and even in Europe. Plaza means a public square, marketplace or similar open space in a built-up area.
I am not Spanish and initially I just pronounced the word as ‘plaza’ with the hard ‘z’ in English. Unbeknownst to me, Plaza ‘Mayor is pronounced as ‘Plasa Mayor’. The letter ‘z’ in Spanish is pronounced as ‘s’.
Such as the famous local brand, Zara is pronounced as ‘Sara’. At first I felt weird but after some time it has become my second nature. Time will heal my hard tongue. Hehehe..
What can you find at Plaza Mayor?
- Madrid Tourism Center is located here in one of the sections called as La Casa de la Panaderia (Bakery House). In Spanish it sounds sexier huh? It reminds me of the Spanish telenovela shown in Malaysian local channel when I was in middle school.
- Many shops selling souvenirs
- Many bars, cafes and restaurants
- Try the calamari sandwich (Bocadillo de calamares) at La Campana (walking distance) I miss the olives there. Delicious!
How to go to Plaza Mayor?
Remember my post of another plaza; Puerta del Sol recently? Plaza Mayor is just walking distance from here. If gauged by Google Map it is around 5 minutes. Really close!
My advice is to visit these spots one after another in this order:
- Plaza Mayor
- Royal Palace
- Sol (for lunch)
- Gran Via (for shopping)
Better eat before shopping for that extra energy to splurge. Heheh..
Our visit to Plaza Mayor
Since our home is not that far from the center, I do walk around Plaza Mayor a lot. When friends came to visit me, Plaza Mayor is a must to visit!
Plus, when I attended Spanish class in Embajadores I frequently walked up the hill from Lavapies to Plaza Mayor and then Sol. There are many alleys going into Plaza Mayor and they give different vibes.
I love the view of the plaza be it during the day or at night but I really adore the sight of Plaza Mayor particularly when it is around Christmas time. The lights displayed enhanced the aesthetic of the architecture more.
Eating at Plaza Mayor
Do you see the white umbrellas lining out the terrazzo in front of Plaza Mayor? They are cafes / bars / restaurants where Madrileños and visitors alike sit, sipping a relaxing cup of cafe con leche ala Ana Botella (ex-mayor of Madrid) while enjoying the majestic amber architecture.
FYI, there is a slight price difference between eating inside and outside at the terrazo. Eating outside is much more expensive. Depending on the establishments, some can be from a few centicimos (cents) or much higher.
See the Spanish traditional costume in the picture above? They are the street art performers donning costumes for photo opportunities. It is not FREE. Depending on them, you should ask for their price first before snapping your camera. I paid a euro for a photo with them but at Real Palace, I had to pay four euros per person!
I love the cobbled stones paving the road here in Plaza Mayor. They add up to it’s aesthetic value. Such as this road leading to another Madrid MUST VISIT tourist spot; Mercado de San Miguel.