Spain's main squares
Outdoor cafés in the Plaza Mayor square in Salamanca
Plaza de la Corredera Square (Cordoba)
The Plaza Mayor is the “living room” for Spain's towns and cities. They are majestic, welcoming places, overflowing with life. When you discover them you will see that their special architecture sets them apart from other main squares to be found in Europe. They are a place for social encounters, but also a lively centre for cultural and commercial activity, Be warned: you won't want to leave.
They can be found in almost all towns and are one of Spain's most characteristic urban elements. The Plaza Mayor in each destination is not to be missed for many reasons. Some are real, grandiose, magnificent monuments; others are attractive in a more simple, traditional way. Nevertheless, you will always be surprised by their ornamental details, their colour, the beauty of their façades... and especially for the pleasant atmosphere to be found within.
Plazas mayores (main squares) began to appear in Spanish towns and cities at the end of the Middle Ages. Over the years they have given rise to squares in a range of different styles, from Renaissance to neo-Classical and Baroque. If you take a close look you will see that, in general, they have certain characteristics that distinguish them from other kinds of squares: a rectangular layout with semi-circular arches, uniform façades, colonnades, balustrades, galleries of balconies and medallion decorations.
The Plaza Mayor was traditionally the place where the Town Hall was located, and the centre of the town. It was the site for the market, for public justice, for the celebration of solemn events, festive occasions and all kinds of traditional spectacles: comedies, bullfights, tournaments, games... Nowadays you will see that they continue to be the "heart" of a town, the ideal place to get together, take a stroll, shop, eat or have a coffee.
In the square's colonnade and nearby streets you will find many traditional taverns and shops; there are often musicians and artists to be found amongst the columns; you will see too that this is the usual site for fairs and street markets; furthermore, it is often the setting for a host of cultural shows and events (concerts, drama, festivals, exhibitions...). The Plaza Mayor in Madrid or that of Salamanca are two of the most famous examples; nevertheless, there are others that are well worth discovering, such as those in Valladolid and Cáceres, La Corredera in Cordoba, Zocodover Square in Toledo, those in Chinchón, Almagro and Alcaraz, amongst many others. Don't miss the chance to discover Spain's main squares.