Origins of Plaza Mayor

Origins of Plaza Mayor

The origins of Plaza Mayor, date back to the sixteenth century, when from the outer part to the southern part of the plaza, was considered just outside the medieval village. This site was known as “Plaza del Arrabal”, and it was the main market of the town.

In 1580, having moved the court to Madrid in 1561, Felipe II, commissioned the project to remodel the square to Juan de Herrera, thus beginning the demolition of the old houses.

The construction of the first building of the new plaza, was the Casa de la Panaderia, beginning in 1590 by Diego Sillero, on the site of the old fish market.

In 1617, Felipe III, commissioned the completion of the works to Juan Gomez de Mora, who completed the square in 1619.

Estatua de Felipe III en la Plaza Mayor
Estatua de Felipe III en la Plaza Mayor

The Plaza Mayor suffered three major fires in its history. The last fire, which destroyed a third of the square, took place in 1790. The reconstruction was commissioned to Juan de Villanueva, who lowered the height of the constructions that surround the square from five stories to three, and closed the corners of the plaza, building arches to give access instead. The reconstruction work would last until 1854, and finished by Antonio López Aguado.

In 1848, an equestrian statue of Felipe III, was placed in the center of the square, designed by Giambologna and Pietro Tacca dating back to 1616.

In the ’60s a general restoration was undertaken, which closed the plaza to the traffic, and enabled an underground parking beneath the plaza.

The last that has been done in Plaza Mayor, was in 1992 and consisted of the mural decoration, designed by Carlos Franco in the Casa de la Panaderia. This mural represents mythological characters of the goddess Cybele.

Plaza Mayor Surroundings

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