Plaza Mayor – Large Plaza, Utilised as Public Square
Plaza Mayor in Salamanca, Spain is said to be a large plaza situated in the centre of Salamanca and is utilised as a public square. An exceptional grand square, it is considered as the heart of Salamanca and widely regarded as the most beautiful central plaza of Spain. Salamanca is known as La Dorado – The Golden City owing to the glow of its sandstone buildings which the Plaza Mayor tends to represent at its core.
The square is mostly memorable during night when it is illuminated till midnight to magical effect. It has been designed by Alberto Churriguera with its amazing harmonious and controlled baroque display and the medallions placed around the square bear the bust of famous figures.
It has been built in the traditional Spanish baroque style and is a famous gathering area which is lined by restaurants, tourist shops, ice cream parlours, and much more along its perimeter except in the front area of the city hall.
It is linked to the shopping area Calle del Toro from the northeast area, Calle de Zamora from the north, the restaurant on Calle de Concejo from the northwest, Calle del Prior and the small Calle de la Caja de Ahorros from the west and as Plaza del Corrillo from the south.
Utilised for Bullfighting
In 1729 the construction of the plaza had started and was completed in 1755.Felipe the V had ordered the construction of the plaza to be utilised for bullfighting and was designed by the Churriguera family in sandstone. Till mid-19th century, it had been used for bullfighting, one hundred years after it was completed. The construction had started in two phases and the first was between 1729 and 1735 while the second was between 1750 and 1755.
The first phase was said to be built under the guidance of Alberto Churriguera and the second phase was built under the direction of his nephew, Manuel de Larra Churriguera. Eventually Andres Garcia de Quinones had built the City Hall. UNESCO had declared the old city of Salamanca as a World Heritage Site, in 1988. Presently there is a plaque place towards the centre of the plaza marking its significance to enhancement on the baroque style beauty of the plaza.
Irregular Square, Its Facades not Measuring the Same Height
The plaza is said to be an irregular square with none of its facades measuring the same height. The walls have three floors above its ground terrace level except for the main façade portion. There are six entrances which lead to various streets from opposite areas of the plaza. It features a clock – El Reloj tower and five larger façade entrances on only two floors towards the frontal area under the clock.
Besides this, it also features 88 arches which are raised on stout pillars and decorated medallions on it several spandrels. The plaza also tends to have 247 balconies which now belong to private residents. Originally the plaza was intended to be designed with two towers on each side of the clock but was not completed due to fear that the portion would not be capable of supporting the weight and thus the 1745 plan was used instead. The city hall is also placed on this side of the plaza, built in the baroque style with five granite arches and a steeple.