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Plaza Mayor of Madrid
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Plaza Mayor built during the Habsburg period is a central plaza in the city of Madrid, Spain. It is located only a few blocks away from another famous plaza, the Puerta del Sol. The Plaza Mayor is rectangular in shape, measuring 129 by 94 meters, and is surrounded by three-story residential buildings having 237 balconies facing the Plaza. It has a total of nine entranceways. The Casa de la Panaderνa, serving municipal and cultural functions, dominates the Plaza Mayor.
The origins of the Plaza go back to 1581 when Philip II of Spain asked Juan de Herrera, a renowned Renaissance architect, to devise a plan to remodel the busy and chaotic area of the old Plaza del Arrabal. Juan de Herrera was the architect who designed the first project in 1581 to remodel the old Plaza del Arrabal but construction didn't start until 1617, during Philip III's reign. The king asked Juan Gomez de Mora to continue with the project, and he finished the porticoes in 1619. Nevertheless, the Plaza Mayor as we know it today is the work of the architect Juan de Villanueva who was entrusted with its reconstruction in 1790 after a spate of big fires. Giambologna's equestrian statue of Philip III dates to 1616, but it was not placed in the center of the square until 1848. Amazingly enough if you go in there today you can still see the blood on the walls from some of the bull fights held there in earlier years.
The name of the plaza has changed over time. Originally it was called the "Plaza del Arrabal" but became known as the "Plaza Mayor".
In 1812, following a decree all the major plazas of Spain were renamed "Plaza de la Constituciσn", in honour of the Constitution of 1812. The plaza had this name until the restoration of the Borbσn king in 1814 when it became known as the "Plaza Real". The plaza once again held the name "Plaza de la Constituciσn" in the periods from 1820 to 1823, 1833 to 1835, and 1840 to 1843.
In 1873, the name changed to "Plaza de la Repϊblica", and then back to "Plaza de la Constituciσn" from the restoration of Alfonso XII in 1876 to the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera in 1923. A proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic gave the plaza the name of "Plaza de la Constituciσn" until the end of the Spanish Civil War when the plaza was renamed the "Plaza Mayor," the name it bears to date.
The Plaza Mayor has been the scene of multitudinous events: markets, bullfights, soccer games, public executions, and, during the Spanish Inquistion, "autos de fe" against supposed heretics and the executions of those condemned to death. The Plaza Mayor also has a ring of old and traditional shops and cafes under its porticoes. Celebrations for San Isidro, patron saint of Madrid, are also held here. The Plaza Mayor is now a major tourist attraction, visited by thousands of tourists a year.

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Additional Photos by Silvio Sorcini (Silvio1953) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 17844 W: 130 N: 37540] (204140)
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