POPULAR EFFERVESCENCE. NEURALGIC CENTER OF THE URBAN FUTURE. ART IN MOTION. MONUMENTALITY AND MEETING POINT UNDER THE SHELTER OF THE SQUARES THAT HAVE ACQUIRED THE QUALIFICATION OF `MAYOR´ (`MAIN´) IN THEIR OWN RIGHT. PARADORES INVITES YOU TO ENJOY SPAIN´S MOST EMBLEMATIC SQUARES.
We ascend the steps under the great Arco de Cuchilleros Arch. The shadow of its tired porch-es invites you to travel all around the perimeter. Beyond its arcades stands the decorated façade of the Casa de la Panadería. In its right tower the barometer indicates “good weather”. We have reached the Plaza Mayor in Madrid. For four centuries, the common courtyard of the villa. Uniform and diverse. Place of meeting and coexistence for the city of Madrid and visitors and one of the most unique spaces in Madrid.
The IV Centenary of the beginning of the construction works confirms the Plaza Mayor, for its history and popular character, as one of the cultural axes in the city´s centre, giving way to a multitude of proposals so that the square is reborn, beautiful and harmonious, austere and adorned, and celebrates its 400 years of history with just poetic, dance repertoires, conferences, baroque parties, street theatre and much more.
It is possible that the enjoyment of a glass of beer or a coffee, in any of its picturesque terraces, comes accompanied by a pleasant déjàvu. A feeling of familiarity, of rest in a place already known … Perhaps the memory of one of the many squares that copied the design of the Madrilenian is sensed. Its direct heir is the Plaza Mayor of Salamanca, with 88 arches and 477 balconies. A common meeting point between Salamanca and visitors, either “under the clock” or at the Novelty Café. Its centennial history preserves the spirit of meetings and gatherings of literary cafes. Inside, a statue of the writer Gonzalo Torrente Ballester honors his most illustrious parishioners.
Four hundred kilometers south of the capital, in the emblematic city of Córdoba stands the only quadrangular square in all of Andalusia: La Corredera, named for the bullfights held for generations. Rehabilitated only 16 years ago, it contrasts with the previous ones because it lacks a unitary architecture, typical of the Main Squares of its time. It preserves two beautiful previously built buildings: the Casa Consistorial (City Hall) and jail – now Sánchez Peña market – and the Casa de Doña Jacinta.
Another unique example survives in Almagro. It is one of the most interesting squares of the country. Beautiful glazed galleries with Northern influences run through the larger canvases. Hidden behind the facade of the old inn, Spain´s only Corral de Comedias (open air theatre) is still preserved. The building, renovated during the 50s, continues to welcome works by great classics such as Calderón, Machiavelli, Shakespeare or Zorrilla, since for 40 years it has been celebrating the International Classical Theatre Festival with great reception of critic and public.
And what about Trujillo! Cradle of conquerors, with sons as famous as Francisco Pizarro, whose equestrian statue rises from 1927 before the staircase leading to the Santa María la Mayor Church. Unlike the previous ones, this square is built on two levels and does not have a quadrangular shape. It is full of irregularities, with a large variety of styles, heights and shapes in its buildings that give it a less ordered and planned appearance.
But, undoubtedly, the square that best combines stylistic disparities with spectacular monuments is the Plaza del Obradoiro in Santiago. The buildings closing it are the most photographed by those tired pilgrims that culminate their St. James Way to Compostela. On the square con-verge more than 700 years of architectural history. The Romanesque cathedral, which, although it was built in 1075, has a clearly Baroque façade added eight centuries later and the hospital, now emblematic Parador de Turismo, built at the beginning of the 16th century and including de-tails more typical of the Renaissance than of the Gothic style, stand out.
The singularity does not end. In Plasencia, the Plaza Mayor is presided over by the City Hall. Its main tower hosts an android known as El abuelo Mayorga (Grandfather Mayorga), that acts when the clock of the tower rings the bell every half an hour. In Cáceres, the main square is the main point of entry to the amazing monumental city. It is bordered on the East by part of the wall and for centuries has been the meeting point, the center of social and commercial life of the city.
In León, the main square houses the Mirador or Consistorio Building, of Baroque style, and gives life to the famous Barrio Húmedo District, heart of the old town. In Chinchón, the square is pre-served as a prominent example of the Castilian plazas porticadas, squares with arcades. In Seville, it is dressed with elegant regional windows and in Valladolid, one of Pain´s oldest and largest main squares, Count Ansúrez – who repopulated the city – is honored.
All of them are impregnated with beauty. All are essential. All are full of life and charm. And very close to each square, a Parador to enjoy rest.
PARADOR OF CHINCHÓN
Located in a former Augustinian convent with large windows and beautiful common areas, with exquisitely decorated rooms and a careful attention to detail, the Parador de Chinchón, just an hour from Spain´s capital, combines perfectly tranquility and comfort.
PARADOR OF ALMAGRO
A Historic Artistic Complex, the city boasts of a Parador five min-utes away from the Plaza Mayor.
The building is a former 16th century convent, cozy and quiet, with swimming pool, interior patios and luminous galleries.
An ideal place to visit the Corral de Comedias, the only open air theatre that has been preserved intact and active from the beginning of the 17th century to the present day.
PARADOR OF TRUJILLO
On the convent of Santa Clara, built in the 16th century, stands the Parador in the monumental city of Trujillo.
Its two beautiful cloisters are striking: one with Renaissance arches and columns and the second, of great luminosity. The rooms are quiet and have beautiful and elegant lounges, as well as a seasonal swim-ming pool.
PARADOR OF SANTIAGO
Known as Hostal dos Reis Católicos, it combines history, art and tradition. Located on the Plaza do Obradoiro, it is one of the most beautiful and luxurious hotels of the Paradores chain. It hides four beautiful cloisters, elegant halls and spectacular rooms, as well as a large dining room to taste all the delicacies of this earth.
PARADOR OF SALAMANCA
On a hill facing the monumental old town, awaits the Parador de Salamanca. Its picture and glass windows become an exceptional vantage point to the historic center and its interior lavishes elegance and comfort.
The panoramic views of-fered by the lounges, the swimming pool and most of the rooms are the best to see a World Heritage city.
PARADOR OF CÓRDOBA
Built on the ruins of the summer palace of Caliph Abdurrahman I, it offers breath-taking views of the World Heritage City, as well as a quiet, cool and restful stay.
Its interior houses bright and spacious rooms, decorated with simplicity and ex-quisite taste. It has a swimming pool and is surrounded by the “Los Naranjos” (Orange Trees) Garden, which treasures Europe´s oldest palms.