There are plazas all over Madrid, squares between the densely packed buildings. They range from small to large, and quiet to throbbingly busy and they are all fascinating. Here I am just going to share two of those which we explored as a change from art galleries and gardens.
This square dates from 1810 and it stands in an area known as the Barrio de las Letras. There are monuments to Calderon de la Barca in the square, a theatre stands at one end of the square and there is a pub which was used by Ernest Hemingway. A luxury hotel, the Reina Victoria, dates from the end of the 19th century.
The name comes from a Carmelite monastery which stood here in the 17th century. Spain had a very large number of monastic communities before the 19th century and the actions of Mendizabal. Madrid in particular was abundantly supplied with religious communities. There seem to have been c.70 monasteries and convents in a city of c.150,000 people in the early 19th century. St John of the Cross founded The Monastery of Santa Ana in 1586. Joseph Bonaparte demolished the monastery in 1811 to create the plaza.
Around the Plaza Santa Ana in Madrid
There are fascinating little streets, corners and colourful shops and bars in and around the square.
The Cerveceria Alamana was apparently a favourite haunt of Ernest Hemingway! Exploring is hard work and we needed sustenance.
Another Plaza in Madrid – the Plaza Mayor
In the 15th century this was the main market of Madrid. The area was remade in the early 16th century. There have been treen huge fires in the square and today’s plaza is the work of Juan de Villanueva and dates from the 19th century. It is huge, with ten entrances and nine gates. (The embellished building between the two towers on the right of the picture below is the Casa de Panaderia and it was originally the main bakery for the town.)
Amongst all the tourists and Marilenos in the square was a very happy wedding party!
And there had to be something weird!
Around the Plaza Mayor
There are dozens of Plazas in Madrid and you can spend years exploring them – and yes, of course I would return!