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Along the Calle Mayor, just west of the Plaza Mayor, you will find the Plaza de la Villa of Madrid.
ThePlaza de la Villa is a perfect example of the evolution of Spanish architecture. The Torre de los Lujanes (on the east side of the Plaza), a fifteenth century building in Mudéjar style, is the oldest surviving building in the Plaza. King Francis I of France was held prisoner in this tower following the Battle of Pavia in 1525. The interesting building to the right of the tower with a Mudejar doorway is the Hemeroteca Municipal, which contains more than 70,000 volumes of newspapers printed in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Next in age is The Plateresque Casa de Cisneros (on the south end) which was built by a nephew of Cardinal Cisneros in the sixteenth century and is named after him rather than his Uncle. This site used to be an Arabian marketplace but no longer resembles such, at least not on the inside. The Town Hall on the west side of the Plaza is joined to this building by a floating passageway forming a bridge which can be seen on your right if standing facing the Casa de Cisneros.
Architect Juan Gómez de Mora designed and constructed the Casa de la Villa (Ayuntamiento or Town Hall) in 1640. This building lies on the west end of the Plaza and although built by Mora, it has been worked on and added to by many other architects such as José de Villarreal, Teodoro Ardemans, Juan de Villanueva and Luis Bellido. Amongst other characteristics, the neoclassic column and the baroque portal were all post-construction add ons.
With a huge flower bed adorning the center, the Plaza de la Villa is a relaxing site for the visitor. One can easily appreciate a huge contrast between the neighboring Plaza Mayor and it's seemingly flowing and symentrical architecture and the Plaza de la Villa, which is a bit of a melting pot of styles. Standing tall and proud in the midst of the Plaza is the Statue of Admiral Alvaro de Bazán, mounted on a pedestal of grey marble imported from the mountains of Elvira. The statue stands 3 meters high and was sculpted by Mariano Benlliure
The Casa de la Villa and Casa de Cisneros are both open to the public. Inside you can see many pieces of art from the 15th, 16th, and 17the centuries. Goya's "Alegoría del dos de mayo", a magnificent painting celebrating the popular revolt which led to the defeat of the French on May 2, 1808 is kept inside the Town Hall. You can enlarge the painting below by clicking on it.
Getting there: The easiest and most fun way to get to the Plaza de la Villa is to walk there from the Plaza Mayor or from the Plaza de Oriente and the Royal Palace area (depending on where you are at the moment). If you are coming from the Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol area, just continue down the Calle Mayor in the opposite direction of the Puerta del Sol and you can't miss the Plaza de la Villa on your left. If you are coming from the Royal Palace, do the opposite, walk down the Calle Mayor towards the Puerta del Sol and the Plaza de la Villa is on your right just before you reach the Plaza Mayor. Piece of cake!