There are few places more beautiful in Madrid than Plaza Mayor. Right in the center of the city, the huge square is one of the largest tourist destinations where Madrid life can be seen at all times. There are nine entrance ways into the Plaza that is enclosed with residential buildings, some of which have one of the best views in the world, since over two hundred balconies face into the square.
Inside Plaza Mayor is also the Casa de la Panaderia, the center for tourism in Madrid. Its architecture and external appearance is different than the rest of the square and is quite noticeable. There is also a statue in the center of Plaza Mayor of King Phillip III that is almost four hundred years old.
The plaza was originally constructed in the early seventeenth century, but after a series of tremendous fires it had to be entirely rebuilt at the end of the eighteenth century in 1790. The plaza has been named many different things over the past five hundred years including Plaza del Arrabal, Plaza de la Constitucion, Plaza Real and Plaza de la Republica. It was not until 1939, after the Spanish Civil War, that it was given the same name as it has today.
Today, like many other plazas of its kind, like Piazza San Marco in Venice, has many shops on the main level of the square that vary from traditional items to an assortment of food choices. At night, the Plaza looks like it is from a fairy tale, golden under the moonlight. Some of the best people watching happens here and although it is slightly more expensive in this area, it is well worth it.
The plaza has a rich history originally used as a busy marketplace. It went on to be used as a place for public executions, bull fights and royal events.