Plaza Mayor is a symbol of Madrid and must not be missed. Building work began on this huge open area in the city centre in the 17th Century under the orders of Felipe III, whose bronze equestrian statue adorns the square. It was opened in 1620 and is rectangular in shape, with arcades running around the edges.
This site used to be the venue for many public events, such as bullfights, processions, festivals, theatre performances, Inquisition trials and even capital executions. Underneath the arcades there are traditional shops, as well as a wealth of bars and restaurants. In the square a number buildings stand out, such as Casa de la Panadería, with its fresco-decorated façade, and Casa de la Carnicería.