Town squares, or plazas in Spanish, have been an important part of the city life experience. Some of the major Spanish town squares reflect how plazas affected the locals socially, culturally, and economically. Some of the major Spanish town squares are centuries old but still remain the center and heart of their cities.
Plaza Mayor / Madrid
Plaza Mayor is one of the oldest Spanish town squares. It dates back to the 17th century and it is right in the middle of Madrid’s heart. It was built during the reign of King Phillip but unfortunately, the plaza went through many ordeals and renovations.
Three major fires broke out in 1619, 1631, and 1790. After each fire, the plaza needed renovations and rebuilding due to the damage. Although the ones in the 1600s were fierce, the fire of 1790 did the most damage. As a result, it took more than 60 years to finally finish the reconstruction and get the plaza back on its feet.
Moreover, Plaza Mayor is one of the most eventful Spanish town squares. Throughout history, it has been home to the best merchants, bullfights, trials, crown ceremonies, and even public executions. While most of these events do not take place in the plaza anymore, they still keep the tradition of annual Christmas markets.
Plaza de Espana / Seville
Plaza de Espana in Seville is respectively one of the recent Spanish town squares. It was built in 1928 for an expo that was going to take place in the country. The expo was mainly about developing relations with the former colonies of Spain through a fair.
In order to represent the multiculturality of Spain, the plaza design is a mix of Baroque, Renaissance, and Moorish Revival movements. Moreover, the plaza was a showcase of the industrial and technological changes in the country.
Plaza de Espana has the shape of a half-circle. In its middle, there is a fountain, and four bridges over the fountain connect the buildings. There are many tiled alcoves around the plaza representing different Spanish provinces. Moreover, the plaza has been a movie production site featuring in movies like Star Wars, and Lawrence of Arabia.
Plaza del Rey / Barcelona
One of the oldest Spanish town squares is Plaza del Rey in Barcelona. Known as Plaça del Rei by the Catalans, this plaza was built in the 14th century. It is in the Gothic Quarter of the city and surrounded by a wave of Gothic and Renaissance buildings.
The plaza has the utmost historical importance for the Spanish because the first official bullfighting took place here. Moreover, for many years, Plaza del Rey was a part of the royal palace where the Counts of Barcelona and the government resided. This is why the plaza is named the King’s Square.
Arguably, the highlight of the plaza is the Royal Chapel of St. Agatha. It is a unique bell tower that has an octagonal shape that looks like a crown. Although it dates back to the 14th century, in the following centuries many Gothic art pieces, tiles, and staircases were added as well.