If you’re planning a trip to Spain and wonder about what activities to do, why not visit one of Spain’s many plazas? Whether traveling to Spain in winter or during the warmer months, taking a stroll through a plaza is always a good idea.
Spanish plazas tell the rich history of their respective cities and are known to be delicately ornate. Often used as a public meeting spot, these plazas are ingrained in Spanish culture, just like its many cultural festivals.
Not sure which plaza to visit? Don’t worry. We have a list of the best and most famous plazas in Spain.
What are Spanish Plazas?
A plaza is an open public space in a city, it is usually in the shape of a square, but some are semi-circular. They are generally characterized by a landmark building like a cathedral or city hall or have a monument like a fountain or a statue. Spain is well-known for having many plazas, each with its own architectural style and influence.
Why Does Spain Have So Many Plazas?
The tradition of every Spanish city having a plaza came from a royal decree from the Spanish Monarchs that stated every city needed a centralized meeting space. Plazas became sites of marketplaces, for people to enact public justice, celebrate certain events, and even hold theatrical shows.
Famous Plazas in Spain
If you are looking for a plaza in Spain to explore, you’ve come to the right place. We list the most popular squares Spain has to offer.
Plaza Mayor, Almagro
Plaza Mayor de Almagro is the location of Almagro city hall and the historic theater of Corral de Comedias de Almagro. The deep emerald green characterizes the plaza on the first and second floors of the square’s buildings.
The square has a monument of Diego de Almagro, a Spanish conquistador who assisted in conquering Peru. The square’s architecture is heavily influenced by the arrival of the Függer family, making the buildings reminiscent of those from Northern Europe. The plaza is used as a performance space by the Almagro International Festival of Classical Theatre.
Plaza del Taller, Santiago de Compostela
This plaza marks the end of the pilgrimage for people walking the Way of St James as it houses Catedral de Santiago de Compostela. This cathedral is Romanesque but also has Gothic and Baroque additions.
The plaza provides excellent people-watching opportunities as you witness pilgrims rejoice in completing their 30-day journey. Many Christians from around the world take up this 30-day pilgrimage which has various starting points and routes, all ending at the cathedral. Even if you are a secular person, you can still revel in the plaza’s beauty and history.
Plaza de Cervantes, Alcalá de Henares
As a homage to writer Miguel de Cervantes, the plaza is a center for regular literary and cultural events, including the annual Mercado Cervantino.
The Plaza also serves as a bridge to two of the city’s most notable streets, the Calle de Libreros and the Calle Mayor. The latter street is home to the Cervantes Birthplace Museum and a bench that features the statues of Cervantes’ most popular characters.
Since the plaza is in the city’s center, you can explore the surrounding area, which includes the University of Alcalá. Once you stroll around, you will realize why the city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Plaza de Espaná, Seville
This semi-circular plaza is one of the most breathtaking sites you will experience on your trip to Spain. The plaza is surrounded by a row of buildings used today as government institutions, and there are two tall towers on either side of the plaza.
On the foot of the building are mosaics of tiles, each fresco depicting all 52 Spanish provinces. The tiles are typical of Andalusia, the region where Seville is located. The plaza also has 52 benches lining it.
The plaza’s other notable features are the round canal, with many small bridges, and the fountain in the middle of the plaza. This plaza tops the list of free things to do in Seville.
Puerta del Sol, Madrid
Puerta del sol is a popular meeting spot in Madrid, a pedestrian-only plaza. It is home to the famous clock whose bells ring in the new year on the 1st of January every year.
Tradition holds that people welcome the new year by eating twelve grapes to the twelve chimes of the clock. The square also features a bear and a strawberry tree statue and the grand Tío Pepe sign atop one of the buildings.
The square is right in the center of Madrid, and it is common for students and activists to perform peaceful protests there. So don’t be alarmed if you see a large group of people gathered there.
A stone slab located on the pavement in front of Casa de Correos marks the starting point for all major radial roads in Spain, Kilometer Zero.
Plaza de Colón, Madrid
Featuring a giant statue of Christopher Colombus, this is one of the busiest plazas in Madrid. There are plenty of places to sit and relax in the square, and it offers beautiful views of the National Library of Madrid – the Biblioteca Nacional.
Near the end of the plaza is Spain’s giant national flag and the famous Jardines del Descubrimiento, the monument erected to honor Spain’s discovery of the Americas. The square is also home to the theater of Fernán Gómez Centro Cultural de la Villa, which has exhibition halls.
Designed by the architect Antonio Lamela and built in the 1970s, the square has two prominent towers called Torres de Colón (Columbus Towers). These iconic towers are visible from different points in the city.
Plaza de Maria Pita, A Coruña
Maria Pita, the plaza’s namesake, is A Coruña’s most famous resident and is known as the city’s savior. During a battle in the 16th century, Maria Pita helped protect the city’s locals.
The plaza showcases typical Galician architecture, and, on the northern side of the square, the City Hall of A Coruña stands in all its grandeur.
Walking through the plaza, you are given the impression that you are in a Royal court, enhanced by Town Hall and Palacio Municipal. The Palacio Municipal also has a clock museum and various meeting rooms. We’re sure you won’t want to miss visiting Plaza de Maria Pita!
Plaça Reial, Barcelona
When planning your Spain itinerary, don’t forget to add the Plaça Reial to your list. There is an elegant ambiance in the square, enhanced by streetlamps, the fountain, and palm trees. It is no wonder that Plaça Reial is one of Barcelona’s busiest places, especially at night.
This beloved square was built in the mid-19th century and was designed by Francesc Molina to build a monument to King Ferdinand VII. The monument was never erected, and instead, the fountain of Three Graces stands as the square’s main attraction.
Plaza del Dos de Mayo, Madrid
If you are a fan of Baroque architecture, Madrid’s Plaza del Dos de Mayo is just for you. The plaza is also a great place to visit for history lovers as it marks the day when the people of Madrid rebelled against the French troops occupying the city.
Every year, street parties celebrate this momentous occasion, but the square is worth visiting all year round. There are also play parks if you have children, a weekly market of crafts and vintage goods, and many places where you can grab a snack.
Plaza Alta, Badajoz
During medieval times, the plaza was originally a Moorish zoco (market). In the 15th century, the arches were added to assist with bullfighting, and currently, the square is undergoing restoration work. It is busiest during festivals like the Jazz and Classical Music festivals and Easter Week.
Although not the prettiest plaza on the list, it is an excellent place if you like to enjoy street musicians or want to revel in some Moorish architecture. The area is also surrounded by many cafes and restaurants, making it an excellent stop if you want a meal or some coffee.
Esta Es Una Plaza, Madrid
Esta Es Una Plaza is unique in that it is a community initiative designed to combat the lack of green spaces in Madrid. Since its creation in 2008, the plaza has been growing… literally! A group of dedicated locals ensures that it is well maintained.
This community-run space focuses on uplifting the people in the area and promoting unity between social groups, no matter your religion or nationality. The plaza has changed into a cultural hub that encourages the community to be more ecological, self-sufficient, and literate.
Although not as flashy and historical as the other plazas on our list, this plaza still understands the heart of what Spanish squares are meant to be: a place where people can socialize and come together as a community. This plaza is one to check out.
Final Thoughts on the Plazas in Spain
Visiting a Spanish plaza is an excellent idea to have a more relaxing day out in a Spanish country. They are also great if you love admiring Spanish architecture and delving a little deeper into its history.
Plazas are also a great way to meet new people, both locals and tourists, and find out about fun activities to do around the city. Some plazas even host festivals or markets during certain times in the year.
If you are traveling with your kids or want to cool down, why not check out our list of the best water parks in Spain?