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Plaza Mayor

This colossal square has hosted a variety of events over its 400 year history, from street markets to public executions.

TravelCurious Tip

Try the local speciality here: Bocadillo de Calamares, a delicious calamari sandwich.

The Main Square

Just a few blocks from the Puerta del Sol, this square was built in the early 17th century under the reign of Philip III, whose equestrian statue stands at the centre. It is overlooked largely by three-storey residential buildings, with 237 balconies facing the plaza.

It is a grand and symmetrical space, with a distinguished surround of arcaded porticoes. The municipal Casa de la Panadería - supposedly named after the bakery that it replaced - dominates the north side, with painted façades and flanked by a pair of angular towers.


A place of the past

Today the plaza is primarily a popular tourist attraction, but in its time it has been used for bullfighting, markets, football matches, public executions and even autos da fé: the tribunals, tortures and burnings of supposed heretics during the years of the Spanish Inquisition.

Beneath its porticoes a number of traditional shops and eateries can be found; despite their rather steep prices, they make a great stop for some people-watching, and you can drink local wines as you drink in some history.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Madrid
Puerta del Sol
The centre of Madrid's New Year celebrations, and mile zero of Spain's network of roads.
Church of Santiago
An austere neoclassical church alongside the Camino de Santiago.
Plaza de Ramales
A square right beside the Royal Palace, this was the centre of 15th century Madrid.
Plaza de Oriente
A historic square with some fabulous sculptures, located right at the entrance to the Royal Palace.
Teatro Real
'El Real' is one of Europe's great theatres, and the major opera house of Madrid.
Classic Spanish Tapas
Spanish tapas are the heart of any social gathering.

Related Tours

Historic Madrid for First-Timers
Visit Madrid, Spain’s vibrant multicultural capital, to discover its historic plazas and royal palaces, neoclassical churches and the winding streets of its Medieval quarter.
 
  • Start your tour in Madrid’s bustling heart, Plaza Mayor (Main Square)
  • Stop at Puerta del Sol (Sun Gate) to photograph its famous bear statue and clock tower
  • Learn about Spain’s epic hike, the Camino de Santiago (Way of St James), at the Iglesia de Santiago (St James’s Church)
  • Explore Madrid’s Gothic heritage at Ramales and the Plaza de Oriente (Eastern Square)
  • Marvel at the grand Royal Palace and Royal Theatre
  • Stroll the medieval streets of the Barrio de la Latina (Latin Quarter)
  • Finish at Plaza de Santa Ana (Santa Ana Square), a food, culture and nightlife hotspot
 Madrid is an ever-moving city filled with a mix of ancient history and modern life. In this mammoth capital, you’ll find everything from one of Europe’s richest art collections to grand royal palaces and maze-like medieval quarters lined with tapas bars and sweeping plazas. On this four-hour tour, a local expert will guide you through Madrid’s frenetic streets, introducing you to the city’s top sights.
 
Plazas, palaces and Gothic history
 
Begin your tour at Madrid’s main hub, the Plaza Mayor (Main Square), a renaissance square with a 400-year-old statue of King Phillip II surrounded by impressive porticoed buildings. You’ll learn about how this historic square has hosted everything from exotic markets to bullfights and even public executions and burnings during the Spanish Inquisition. There’s also a chance to stop at the nearby Puerta del Sol (Sun Gate) to see its iconic bear statue and clock tower.
 
The Plaza de Santiago (St James’s Square) is a through-way on Spain’s famous 500-mile Camino de Santiago (Way of St James) pilgrimage hike across the country. Here, you’ll see the Iglesia de Santiago (St James’s Church), once one of the oldest churches in Madrid which was rebuilt in neoclassical style in the 19th century. It’s now time to explore Madrid’s 15th century Gothic quarter, Ramales, with its tranquil plaza home to the Reina Sofia (Queen Sofia) concert venue and resting place of the renowned artist Diego Velazquez.
 
In the adjacent Plaza de Oriente (Eastern Square), your guide will introduce you to Madrid’s famous Royal Palace and the Royal Theatre, a world-class opera house. The plaza was designed by King Joseph I in 1844, its Medieval houses removed to make way for gardens and sculptures and of course, the royal buildings. Learn all about the palace, which is the largest in Western Europe and the official residence of the Spanish royal family.
 
The life and soul of Madrid
 
As you come to the end of this epic, express tour of Madrid, you’ll navigate the snaking streets of the Barrio de La Latina (Latin Quarter), a medieval wonder. Discover narrow alleys lined with cafés, bars and restaurants, Moorish churches and pretty plazas. The tour concludes at the Plaza de Santa Ana (Santa Ana Square), one of Madrid’s most vibrant squares. Soak up the atmosphere of its traditional taverns and tapas bars, terrace cafés and boutiques.
 
Searching for a quick, informative glimpse of Madrid? This tour is the perfect choice for your first visit to Madrid, taking in the city’s main areas and landmarks. 
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