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When I visit Madrid, I always make a point of stopping at least once for a drink or a feed in one of the focal points at the heart of the historic downtown – aka Madrid de los Austrias, Habsburg Madrid. The cobblestone Plaza Mayor (which means simply “main square”) is a short stroll southwest of Puerta del Sol – the local equivalent of Picadilly Circus or Times Square – and forms an impressive rectangle indeed, 129 by 94 meters (423 x 308 feet) in size.


Today it’s lined with bars, restaurants, and a handful shops, and apart from the occasional special event in the centre the equestrian statue of King Philip III (designed by 17th-century Flemish-Italian artist Giambologna), such as Madrid’s main annual Christmas market, the perimeter is covered with covered tables/chairs that make absolutely lovely places to linger a bit, whether by day or by night.

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