Friday Photo: Plaza Mayor in Madrid

We were thirty three in Madrid. Thirty teenagers and three teachers. Those poor tour guides! We were about an hour into our walking tour of Madrid (the kids swore it had been more like a HUNDRED years…) when we reached the breathtaking Plaza Mayor, one of the most impressive town squares I have ever encountered.

I feel I must confess that I am a collector of plazas (not the actual plazas, of course, but visits, photos, memories and stories about plazas) and that I have been collecting them for more than ten years and on three continents. There is something so wonderfully civilized about visiting a plaza. It’s a place to have a coffee or glass of wine, to chat, to read, to watch all the fascinating people pass by, to bask in the sun, or to look on while your kids play soccer. To be outdoors and in community with other people – or alone if you wish – but to be in the centre of things. The beating heart of the city or neighbourhood. I always feel a little giddy in plazas. Extra alive.

Plaza Mayor is so massive that I had despaired of taking a decent photograph but then, as we continued on our tour, I caught this view of the plaza by looking back over my shoulder. Snap snap. The Plaza Mayor has been used for bullfights, royal coronations, soccer games and executions. You can learn more about it here.

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  1. I think you perfectly captured the charm of the city plazas in your post. I loved the plazas we visited in Spain, and I wish we had similar gathering places around home.

  2. I took a photo last year while visiting Plaza Mayor and it's almost the exact same shot! (You can see it posted on my blog if you don't believe me). Another fave plaza of mine located in the good ole USofA is in Santa Fe, New Mexico!

  3. I love the plazas too. Hanging out for a while is the best way to get the "feeling" of a city, and I love seeing how the character changes from neighborhood to neighborhood.With kids, they've become a valued resource too… Madrid (luckily) has some pretty nice playgrounds, but many older cities do not. We carry along an inflatable ball & that's all we need to turn a plaza into a playground. Once the ball is inflated it even attracts local kids to play with!The Plaza Mayor is especially nice isn't it? There is so much going on that it's difficult to take it all in at once.

  4. @DominiqueThanks for your lovely comment. There is something so magical about these plazas. I'm afraid it's not a very North American idea.@LindaThanks! Yours photo was great too. I love the adorable chipmunk.@KikiSo cool! We have taken almost the same shot. Thanks so much for posting yours at Kiki the Spunky Monkey so that I could see it. (I would have believed you but it was much better this way.) I've actually never been to new Mexico… or California. They are on my list though.@Kim@GalavantingI felt exactly the same way! We had been walking along this dark, narrow street and then, suddenly, there we were… in the middle of this amazing space! (Talk about a home court advantage!)I believe the guides were well compensated for their patience :)@Debbie DubrowIt's the hanging out that gets me! An hour in a plaza can tell me more about a city than two days spent zipping madly from one sight to the next. Watching kids play soccer in Plaza Rius i Taulet near our flat in Barcelona is one of my all-time favourite plaza activities.Thanks for Photo Fridays. What a great idea!

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