This large, cobbled square was built in 1619 by Juan Gomez de Mora as the town square. Positioned just outside the city walls, it was used by medieval traders to peddle their wares without incurring intra-mural taxation. The ceremonial centre of Madrid, it was used for coronations, markets and bullfights. Today, there are still plenty of shops in the elegant, arched arcades, some full of tacky souvenirs but others selling fine local crafts. The square’s terrace cafés are packed with tourists (there’s not a Madrileño in sight), and on Sunday mornings it’s transformed into a stamp and coin collector’s market. Seasonal markets often also feature, in particular the Christmas one, where you can pick up the funny wigs everyone seems to wear around this time of year, as well as all kinds of figurines for a Bethlehem scene.