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Notes on the Geography of Spain: Madrid: Photo 65

world pictures Spain: Madrid

The key building in the plaza is this, the Panaderia, as its name suggests originally a bread mart. If that sounds odd, it is useful to remember the words of Giovanni Botero, a political philosopher who in 1519 wrote: "There is nothing that keeps the people as happy as a good bread mart" (Escobar, 116). The mart was on the ground floor, with a royal apartment above, from which the king could watch events such as bullfights. Higher still were other apartments.

The building burned in 1672 and again in 1790. The structure surviving today was completed in 1830 by Juan de Villanueva, the architect of Charles III. Villanueva took the opportunity to rebuild the entire square with neoclassical symmetry, although he added Flemish spires to the Panaderia to accentuate its dominance. That dominance was further emphasized in 1992 by the addition of frescoes by Carlos Francos.

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