After we left Juan Valdez Cafe we continued our walking tour of Old Madrid toward the very picture-esque, Plaza de la Villa. It’s Madrid’s oldest plaza and contains three main buildings, each with a different architectural style. The Casa de la Villa, also known as City Hall, is designed in Castilian-baroque style. It’s the home of the City Council of Madrid. Directly across from the Casa de la Villa is the Torre de los Lujanes. This was the home of one of Madrid’s most aristocratic families. It’s been said that King Francis I of France was held captive here. Then there’s the palace, Casa de Cisneros, which was built in 1957 for the nephew of Cardinal Cisneros, Benita Jimenez de Cisneros. Today the building has been converted to municipal offices.
We sauntered down Calle Mayor, which leads to the Plaza Mayor. The Plaza Mayor is Madrid’s main square surrounded by pricey cafes and restaurants. Many grand events in history have taken place in this plaza. There were bullfights, soccer games, public executions, inquisitions and royal coronations. Today, you’ll find plenty of tourists and madrileños, people from Madrid, sprawled out across the cobblestone floor. Some were reading, most were chatting and many were enjoying the nice weather and a nice cup of coffee – now that’s European.
A short walk from the Playa Mayor is the Plaza de la Puerta del Sol, the heart of Madrid’s historic center and the center of Madrid’s most well known landmarks. It is the location of Madrid’s most bustling city scene. Around the corner of Puerta del Sol is the Iglesia de San Gines, one of the oldest churches in the city. The church holds El Greco’s most famous masterpiece, “The Purification.” El Greco is one of Spain’s most reknown painter who produced his most famous work after he moved from Rome to Toledo.