Today we visited one of Madrid’s most famous plazas, Plaza Mayor. Its origins date back to 1576, but the current iteration was designed by architect Juan de Villanueva in 1790 after a series of fires destroyed much of the plaza. The plaza has been used for a variety of purposes during its lifetime including being a market, a center for bullfights, a sports venue for football games (soccer), and a place for public executions, especially during the Spanish Inquisition. Today the plaza is a much more serene plaza lined with traditional old shops and restaurants under its porticoes.
British Fans Trashing the Plaza
Unfortunately on our first visit, it was the early afternoon prior to a game between Manchester United and Madrid Real football. Sadly the Manchester United supporters had begun congregating early and drinking early. Several restaurant and shops owners complained that the crowd had been loud and drunk, and was keeping their customers away. The plaza was covered with their trash and bottles. It was sad seeing such a beautiful and historic plaza being abused by the Brits.
Street just outside Plaza Mayor
We decided to go back the next day, after the Brits lost the game to Madrid Real, and the plaza was back to its usual graceful beauty. Surrounding the plaza, between Puerto del Sol and Plaza Mayor are a series of winding streets full of traditional Spanish bars and stores. And for those “bear” lovers out there, the source of one of the most famous “bear” pics can be found in the east side of nearby Puerto Del Sol. The statue of the “bear and Madroño Tree” is a symbol of Madrid.
Symbol of Madrid – bear & Madroño Tree
Just off the south west corner of Plaza Mayor is Calle Cava de San Miguel, which is out next stop for some of Madrid’s best Spanish tapas.