A Guide to Madrid’s Famous Squares

plaza major ©dalbera/Flickr

The buzzing capital of Spain is famous for many things, but its buzz just wouldn’t be as loud if it wasn’t for its large public squares. These squares belong to Madrileans just as much as they belong to tourists; while the first use the square to show their happiness and national pride at various events (like the winning of the Word Cup by the Spanish football team), the latter gather around the squares for a rest or a rendezvous point before hitting the nightclubs. But no matter what are your intentions, this guide to Madrid’s famous squares will give you some basic information about these popular attractions and their history:

Plaza Major

In a free translation Plaza Mayor would mean the Main Square. It is surrounded by an impressive administrative building known as Casa de la Panaderia. In the middle of the square you’ll find the Statue of King Phillip III, which is almost 4 centuries old. With a long and not always pleasant history, the square has now become a true landmark for tourists, who enjoy hanging around the square, admiring the painted facades or having a Spanish chocolate drink on the open air terrace of one of the several cafes.

Puerta del Sol

Puerta del Sol detail ©nudomarinero/Flickr

Allegedly the most famous of all Spanish squares, Puerta del Sol plays a special role in the lives of locals. While some centuries ago Puerta del Sol was indeed a gate as its Spanish name tells it, today it is considered the symbolic centre of Madrid, while it is also the actual centre of Spain – this is where all roads begin, at Kilometre 0. Puerta del Sol is surrounded by several landmarks, including palacio real and the parliament building. But what makes it particularly famous are the huge gatherings and parties that take place in here, as, for example, the New Year street party.

Plaza de Santa Ana

Plaza de Santa Ana ©Charlie Phillips/Flickr

This less known square hides many gems, including some of the best tapas in the city. But the real reason to visit Plaza de Santa Ana is represented by the numerous cultural attractions that can be found in its vicinity. Plaza de Santa Ana was one at the heart of a prodigious artists’ community, and its cafes and surrounding streets were once frequented by famous writers and poets. This is also the place where you can visit the very first theatre built in Madrid, which today is known as Teatro Espanol.

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