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Mayor Square (Plaza Mayor)

Madrid

You might be thinking what is so special about this Square that everyone recommends to see it. And since we advise it too, we will explain why.

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You might be thinking what is so special about this Square that everyone recommends to see it. And since we advise it too, we will explain why.

The first important thing is that the Square in question was the idea of Felipe II, and this already gives it a certain prestige. By 1580, the king could say that in his kingdom the sun never set, because his possessions included from the current Belgian territory to the remote Philippine Islands, which were not named like this by chance.

The second important thing is that Felipe, decided to make his square in the capital of his empire, so he called Juan de Herrera, a half architect and half expert in occult sciences. He was the one who was in charge of El Escorial and just for this reason you should look at this place with great affection.

But life is what it is, and neither the architect nor the Monarch lived long enough to see the square finished. And it would still take a long time to be done because with the arrival of Felipe III the project was left a little aside until it was resumed thanks to the Duke  of Lerma, a smart guy who took advantage of his position in the Court to make his first steps on urban speculation.

Keep your ears open to the Duke’s shenanigans: in the year 1600, he bought property in Valladolid, before anyone knew that the Royal Court was going to move there. Then, he encouraged the king to move there, and he did such a good job, that the following year his entourage also packed their way to the capital of the Pisuerga River.

Is there a need to continue telling what happened next?  Well, yes. The Duke sold his possessions in the area to the courtiers, but, of course, adding a few zeros to the price. And wait, because this is not the end…

This sale was made with the right hand, while with the left one, he bought from the same courtiers, that were leaving Madrid to follow their king to Valladolid, the properties they were leaving behind at a laughing price. This way, the Duke covered himself in gold with the first part of the operation, but there was still a second part to come.

It turned out that five years later, the Royal Court returned to Madrid. And can you guess who got loaded with money again selling the properties that he had bought in the capital? Well… as you can see the urban speculation was already invented long before we were born.

But going back to where we were since we’re beating around the bush. The fact is that the completion of the Mayor Square had to wait for the Duke to finish counting his earnings. And it was taking so long that the issue even annoyed the king himself, who in the year 1618, invited the Duke of Lerma to withdraw from public life so he could spend his money with more discretion.

A few months later, in the summer of 1619, the Square that Felipe III’s father had wanted for Madrid was inaugurated and which, according to Royal orders, it would become a model for all bullfighting venues in Spain.


Mayor Square (Plaza Mayor)

Plaza Mayor, s/n
28012 Madrid

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Tags: Baroque art

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