It was late!
Although the project was set to begin in the year 1577 under the reign of Phillip II, construction didn’t begin until many, many years later in 1617! King Phillip III finally made the call! It was finished in the year 1621!
The Plaza Mayor measures 29 m × 94 m (423 ft × 308 ft)! And that giant statue of Phillip III designed by Giambologna (byPietro Tacca) is from 1616, but didn’t show up until 1848. Sometimes as many as 50,000 people would crowd in the Plaza Mayor! Although it still gets crowded these days, it’s never that full!
It’s had several names!
Wait, the Plaza Mayor wasn’t always called the Plaza Mayor? This emblematic square changes with the times and social context of the country as a whole! It used to be called Plaza del Arrabal, then the name was changed in 1812 to Plaza de la Constitución and then to Plaza de la República in 1873 and finally to Plaza Mayor after the Spanish Civil War ended.
Not only was the Plaza Mayor a place for commerce and trade, the Plaza Mayor was also used for bullfights, soccer matches, and you guessed it: public executions! Today, you can find the oldest restaurant in the world! Located in the Plaza Mayor is Sobrino de Botin! It’s even in the Guinness Book of World Records! The Real Casa de la Panadería (Royal Bakery) is also in the Plaza Mayor, and in fact, it was there before the plaza was even built!
It’s had a facelift
The original Plaza Mayor was surrounded on all sides by 6 stories of wooden buildings, but fire struck the city not once, but three times in 1631, 1672 and 1790! Each time they had to rebuild and modify the design. Currently, it’s surrounded by both residential buildings and restaurants on all sides and only 3 stories, not 6. There are 237 balconies! Do you like those murals on the facade? Don’t get too excited, they were added much later in 1992 by Carlos Franco!
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