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Madrid Plaza de la Paja

 
 

Here the visitor will be reminded that while the Plaza Mayor was once a small dusty square on the edge of town, the Plaza de la Paja (Hay) was were the real city centre lay. Its name derives from the fact that it served as the auctioning centre for hay being resold by the caretakers and foremen of convent lands, who thus paid their use of lands with a tithe, for the privilege of using church lands.

It is a quiet atmospheric place with cafés and terraces.

The walled garden of the Prince of Anglona is located next to the like-named palacio. It is a haven of tranquil repose from which to observe the goings-on in the Plaza de la Paja.

From this square one can seen the Mudejar-style tower of the church of San Pedro El Viejo (the Elder), from the 14th century. Besides the artistic and religious interest it inspires, there is a legend surrounding the church: it says that the first bell to ring from the tower bellfry raised and hung itself up in the tower unaided. The story tells that when it was hoisted on many backs and the attempt was made to bring it up, it got stuck among the tower walls. The workers gave up and went to take a break from their labour; when they returned the next day, to their great surprise, the belll was already hanging in its designated place.

The charming plaza del Alamillo (small poplar tree) is not far. It is where the seat of the Arab court was thought to have stood, in the days when Madrid was Mayrit, the Arab city founded in the 9th century. There is a mexican restaurant on the corner with a priviledge terrace during the good weather days.


 
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