Squares and plazas are an important feature of most cities. As a natural place for people to meet and get together, city squares serve social, cultural and commercial functions. Many of Europe’s cities’ squares are a showcase for great architecture and are steeped in history and in stories. Here is our list of the some of the greatest city squares and plazas in Europe that you must see.
Must See Squares In Europe
Plaza Mayor, Madrid
Built during the reign of King Philip III’s (1598-1621), Plaza Mayor sits in central Madrid and is a tourist hub. Situated at a crossroads on the roads to Toledo and Atocha, the plaza is rectangular shaped and surrounded by three story high residential buildings. The square has been the scene of many historical and cultural events in Spain’s history.
Piazza Navona, Rome
Built in the first century A.D. the Piazza Navona was originally constructed as a center for athletic contests and chariot races in Roman times. Today, the square serves as a meeting place for both tourists and locals. Surrounded by cafes, restaurants and Baroque palaces, this square is a great place to enjoy a coffee and admire the architecture. Piazza Navona is home to Benini’s famous fountain, la Fontana dei Fiumi, which was created in 1651. Sant’Agnese in Agone church, an Egyptian obelisk and two other fountains are also popular features of this square.
In the heart of Munich’s old time stands Marienplatz, in front of the Rathaus, the city hall. Throughout its long history, Marienplatz has been the scene of medieval markets and has witnessed many celebrations and tournaments. In more recent times, Marienplatz is a popular meeting place where you’ll find lots of cafes, restaurants and shops all filled with both locals and enchanted visitors.
Trafalgar Square, London
In the heart of London lies one of the city’s liveliest and most historical open space, Trafalgar Square. It is a hub of activities and celebrations including the Chinese New Year celebration, St Patrick’s Day and Pride parades, and the scene of political demonstrations and rallies. The National Gallery, dated from 1838, sits to the north of Trafalgar Square and houses over two thousand paintings dating from the middle ages to the twentieth century.
Old Town Square, Prague
In the Old Town quarter of Prague stands the Old Town Square, surrounded by historical buildings and famous and famous landmarks including the Astronomical Clock, The Church of our Lady before Tyn, and St. Nicholas Church which dominates the square. Also located in this quaint and charming square are many old houses and palaces, varying architectural styles and lots of great stories. Prague is also home to second grand square, Wenceslas Square, which is just a five minute walk from Old Town Square.
George Square, Glasgow
In the Scottish city of Glasgow lies George Square. This square was first constructed I 1782 and it is surround many 19th century buildings. The Glasgow City Council sits here and it is also home to an impressive collection of historical statues and monuments, including a statue of Sir Walter Scott.
Piazza del Campo, Siena
In the medieval, Tuscan town of Siena sits one of the world’s largest medieval squares. This historic square has been the center of commerce and social activity in Siena since the 1150s. This famous city square is actually shell shaped and not a square at all! The Piazza del Campo is famous for the horse race that is held here twice a year, the Palio, which attracts thousands of visitors.
Grand Place, Brussels
Considered one of the most beautiful squares in Europe, Brussel’s Grand Place, or Grote Markt, is a confluence of architectural history with Baroque, Gothic and Louis XIV buildings standing side by side in this stunning square. Brussels’ Town Hall, almost forty guildhalls and buildings from between the years 1300 and 1600 surround the square. You can also see the Flower Carpet here bi-annually, a stunning event in which a colorful carpet is created using just under one hundred thousand cut begonias.
Plaza De Espana, Seville
Seville’s Plaza De Espana was built in 1929 for the Ibero-American Exposition. An important landmark architecturally, the plaza exemplifies Regionalism architecture which is a mix of Renaissance and Moorish styles. Two magnificent towers stand either side of the Plaza De Espana which can be seen throughout Seville. To the front is a canal which has four bridge crossings, which lends the Plaza De Espana the nickname of “The Venice of Seville”.
Place de la Concorde, Paris
The Place de la Concorde, situated to the east of the Champs-Élysées, is the biggest square in Paris. The square was commissioned by Louis XV and construction took place between 1754 and 1763, designed by the architect Jacques Ange Gabriel. A 3,300 year old Egyptian obelisk, the Luxor Obelisk, was erected in the square in 1998. Two famous fountains, the Fontaine des Mers and the Fontaine des Fleuves are also popular attractions to the square.
Piazza San Marco, Venice
Perhaps one of the most historical square in Europe is the Piazza San Marco in Venice. The Piazza has been in existence for almost one thousand years and has played an important role as the center of religious, political and social activities in Venice. This square is also the site of three historical sites in Venice: the Byzantine-era Basilica di San Marco; the medieval clock tower torre dell’Orologio and Venice’s seat of government, the Doge’s Palace.
Saint Peter’s Square, Rome
Situated in front of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City, St Peter’s Square was built between 1656 and 1667 and designed by Bernini. This square is a spectacular display of art and architecture. The only Egyptian obelisk that is still standing in Rome since the time of the Roman Empire stands in the center of St Peter’s Square.
Rynek Glowny, Krakow
In the heart of Krakow’s old town sits the Rynek Glowny (Main Square) which is the biggest market square in Europe. This plaza is truly beautiful, filled with interesting landmarks and its numerous cafes, restaurants and clubs makes it a great center of social life in Krakow. The pastel colored buildings add to the prettiness of this square. A 13th century Gothic tower dominates the square and is a major attraction here.
One of the prettiest and largest town squares in Europe is the Rynek Square in Wroclaw, Poland. This medieval market square is surrounded with cafes, restaurants, bars and shops. Wroclaw’s Town Hall sits in the middle of the square and is the center of the cities administration. Many important monuments are also located in the square including the beautiful, glass-paneled St Elizabeth fountain.
Plaza Mayor, Salamanca
Considered one of the most beautiful squares in Spain, Plaza Mayor in Salamanca displays traditional Spanish Baroque architecture. The square is always busy and buzzing with life and activities. The City Hall building sits at the north side of the plaza, an impressive, baroque building with five arches and a steeple adorned with allegorical figures.