Plaza de la Villa


The intimate Plaza de la Villa is one of Madrid’s prettiest. Enclosed on three sides by wonderfully preserved examples of 17th-century barroco madrileño (Madrid-style baroque architecture – a pleasing amalgam of brick, exposed stone and wrought iron), it was the permanent seat of Madrid’s city government from the Middle Ages until recent years, when Madrid’s city council relocated to the grand Palacio de Cibeles on Plaza de la Cibeles.

On the western side of the square is the 17th-century former town hall, in Habsburg-style baroque with Herrerian slate-tile spires. On the opposite side of the square is the Gothic Casa de los Lujanes, whose brickwork tower is said to have been ‘home’ to the imprisoned French monarch François I after his capture in the Battle of Pavia (1525). Legend has it that as the star prisoner was paraded down Calle Mayor, locals were more impressed by the splendidly attired Frenchman than they were by his more drab captor, the Spanish Habsburg emperor Carlos I, much to the chagrin of the latter. The plateresque (15th- and 16th-century Spanish baroque) Casa de Cisneros, built in 1537 with later Renaissance alterations, also catches the eye.

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Nearby Madrid attractions

1. Casa de la Villa

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The 17th-century Casa de la Villa (old town hall), on the western side of the Plaza de la Villa, is a typical Habsburg edifice with Herrerian slate-tiled…

2. Casa de los Lujanes

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On the opposite side of the square from the Casa de la Villa, the 15th-century Casa de los Lujanes is Gothic in conception with a clear Mudéjar (a Moorish…

3. Casa de Cisneros

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The plateresque Casa de Cisneros, built in 1537 by the nephew of Cardinal Cisneros, a key adviser to Queen Isabel, was much restored and altered at the…

4. Convento del Corpus Cristi

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Architecturally nondescript but culturally curious, this church hides behind sober brickwork on the western end of a quiet square. A closed order of nuns…

5. Iglesia de San Nicolás de los Servitas

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Tucked away up the hill from Calle Mayor, this intimate little church is Madrid’s oldest surviving building of worship; it may have been built on the site…

6. Basílica de San Miguel

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Hidden away off Calle de Segovia, this basilica is something of a surprise. Its convex, late-baroque facade sits in harmony with the surrounding buildings…

7. Iglesia del Sacramento

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Just down the hill from the Plaza de la Villa is the 18th-century baroque remake of the Iglesia del Sacramento, the central church of the Spanish army.

8. Plaza de Ramales

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This pleasant little triangle of open space is not without historical intrigue. Joseph Bonaparte ordered the destruction of the Iglesia de San Juanito to…