The Plaza Mayor is located in the center of Madrid, just a few meters from Puerta del Sol and Plaza de la Villa.
It is a rectangular square, surrounded on all sides of buildings of three floors, and its entrance is only possible through the nine porticos. It is 129 meters long and 94 meters wide. There are 237 balconies all along the square. The most well-known portico is the Arco de Cuchilleros, in the southwest corner of the square. At the center, on the north side, stands Casa de la Panadería and in front of it, on the south side, ‘Casa de la Carnicería. Under the arches, in its arcades, are established traditional shops, constituting one of the most important tourist spots in the city.
The origins of the square go back to the fifteenth century, when at the confluence of the roads connecting Toledo to Atocha, outside the medieval city, was the Plaza del Arrabal, the main market of the village, and a first portified building was built to regulate the area trade .
In 1580, after having transferred the cuts to Madrid in 1561, Filipe II ordered Juan de Herrera to remodel the square. Casa de la Panadería, which was in charge of Diego Sillero, was the first building to appear in the new square in 1590. In 1617, Philip III commissioned Juan Gómez de Mora to finalize the works, and the works were completed in 1619.
The Plaza Mayor suffered three major fires during its history. The first was in 1631, and the reconstruction works were handed over to the same architect who had finished it, Juan Gómez de Mora. The second occurred in 1670; Tomás Román was the architect in charge of its reconstruction. The last and third fire in the square was in 1790; the reconstruction work was led by Juan de Villanueva, who reduced the height of the buildings from the square, from five floors to three. The works continued until 1854, with the Villanueva discourses completing the work, Antonio López Aguado and Custodio Moreno. In 1848 the equestrian statue of Philip III was placed in the center.