Phillip II of Spain brought the Royal Court to Madrid in 1561 and started to develop the east side of the Castilian Fortress where today stands the magnificent Royal Palace. It used to be called Plaza del Arrabal because it was outside of the city walls and used to have a little lake in the middle. They say the kings enjoyed hunting ducks there. Once the lake dried out a new Plaza had to be built to celebrate Royal and popular events.
The original buildings that remain from the 16th Century are the Royal Bakery and the meat market. One of in front of the other with their characteristic towers and round arches. Between these two buildings, Phillip III was proclaimed the King of Spain. it is a few years later back in 1617 when he decides to build a uniform Plaza for many different uses.
This square suffered two fires in the seventeenth century and the last one in 1790. Villanueva, Carlos the Third favorite architect rebuilt it with all the arches you see today and the entrances. The most famous one is “Arco de Cuhilleros” in the South West part of the square.
If you take a close look at the base four big street lights there are some representations in bronze of that fire, Spanish Inquisition trials and executions, bull fights, carnival parades, etc.
After many modifications,it was in 1970 when the city hall decided to build an underground parking so all the vegetation you can see in the photograph taken in 1910 was removed.
These last few years the Plaza has been restored to be prepared for this big event.
The 17th, 18th and 19th of February there will be an amazing spectacle to celebrate this important onomastic.
See below how beautiful it looked last night. Everything is ready for Plaza Mayor.
If you are in Madrid, do not miss this free event!!
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