With the growing number of visitors to the Spanish capital, more and more travellers are discovering Madrid´s many historical sites including its 17th century Plaza Mayor.
The square has recently been voted as the 3rd most picturesque square in Europe, just behind London´s Trafalgar Square and Berlin´s Alexanderplatz and well ahead of any rivals in the rest Spain.
Online searches for ‘European culture traditions’ and ‘most beautiful places to go in Europe’ have increased by +200% in the last year and the study by UK-based travel agent, loveholidays has revealed the most picturesque squares in Europe by analysing just how many times the square has been photographed and shared by visitors on social media.
The Plaza Mayor was posted over 610,000 times – well ahead of its closest rival in Spain -the Plaza de España which had 430,000 posts.
The No1 spot of Trafalgar Square was posted 670,000 times.
The Plaza Mayor (literally main or big square) is in the heart of Madrid´s historic Hapsburg district – the oldest part of the city.
Popular with visitors and locals alike who come to sit out and enjoy a coffee or meal the square also plays host to events such as the drum parade at Easter, outdoor concerts, and the city’s traditional Christmas market in December.
The present square was erected on the former Plaza del Arrabal, where Madrid’s most popular market was held till the late 16th century.
When King Philip II moved the Spanish court from Toledo to Madrid in 1561, he began to plan a remodelling of the square, although it wasn’t till his son and successor Philip III was in power, that the new square was built.
It was designed by architect Juan Gómez de Mora and was the beating heart of the then small walled city of Madrid complete with local festivities,bullfights to beatifications, coronations and even auto-da-fé during the Spanish Inquisition.
Its most famous building is the Casa de la Panadería which houses the city´s main tourist Information Centre.
The façade is covered by exquisite frescoes painted in 1992 by the artist Carlos Franco, and which feature mythological figures that are linked to the history of Madrid.
Its other famous features are the Arco de los Cuchilleros whose steep steps lead down to Calle de los Cuchilleros, which was where Madrid ´s famous knife makers had their workshops and would supply knives to the butchers on the Plaza Mayor and the equestrian statue of King Philip III in the centre of the square.