5 Places you must see in Madrid’s Plaza Mayor area

by | Nov 30, 2022 | BLOG, Europe, SPAIN

What to see in Madrid? Well, there are five places you can’t miss the next time you visit Madrid’s Plaza Mayor area. These five places are probably a microcosm representation of what Madrid is about: Tradition, Tapas, Food, Hospitality, and the Moorish influence in Spain.

  • Arco de Cuchilleros (Cutler’s Arch)
  • “Los Galayos” Restaurant
  • Sobrino de Botin Restaurant
  • Posada del Peine Hotel
  • Hammam Al Andalus

Suggested Walking Map & Route in Madrid’s Plaza Mayor Area

To give you an idea, here is a map of the walking route you can follow

Madrid's Plaza Mayor Area
Walking around Madrid’s Plaza Mayor Area
  1. Plaza Mayor
  2. Mercado de san Miguel
  3. Arco de Cuchilleros (Cutler’s Arch)
  4. Sobrino de Botin Restaurant
  5. Hammam Al Andalus
  6. Posada del Peine Hotel
  7. “Los Galayos” Restaurant

Arco de Cuchilleros (Cutler’s Arch)

Arco de Cuchilleros
Cuchilleros Arch

One of the most outstanding corners you will see on your visit to the Plaza Mayor of Madrid is the “Arco de Cuchilleros.”

It is one of the arcaded exits that this large square in Madrid has, which you find in its southwest corner and leads you to one of the most popular areas of bars and tapas for tourists, such as Cava Baja.

The Arco de Cuchilleros connects the Plaza Mayor with Calle de Cuchilleros, an extension of the Cava de San Miguel.

“Los Galayos” Restaurant

Los Galayos
Los Galayos Restaurant

Among the many shops and traditional establishments you can find around the Plaza Mayor in Madrid and the surrounding streets are the restaurant “Los Galayos.”

A typical roasting oven, “Los Galayos” restaurant has a long tradition associated with literature, as many heavyweights writers of Spanish Literature, such as Federico García Lorca, Vicente Alexandre, Pablo Neruda, and Arturo Perez Reverte, have eaten there.

You will find “Los Galayos” restaurant at number 5 on Calle Botoneras, almost in the southeast corner of the Plaza Mayor.

Sobrino de Botin Restaurant

El Sobrino de Botín
El Sobrino de Botin Restaurant

This restaurant in the heart of Madrid is supposed to be the oldest restaurant in the world.

The restaurant proudly displays the Guinness Book of Records certificate in its shop window, confirming this honor.

This certificate testifies that The Sobrino de Botín is the restaurant in the world that has maintained its same activity for the longest time.

The restaurant’s origins date back to 1725 when the “Cuchilleros” area was right on the edge of Madrid’s medieval wall since the Plaza Mayor space was already outside the city limits.

Jean Bodin was a French chef who came to Madrid, where he founded this food house.

The restaurant occupied the ground floor, and the upper floors served as a guesthouse; it was called Hostería Botín.

The name “Sobrino de Botín” was acquired when the restaurant came under Jean Botin’s nephew’s control.

Posada del Peine Hotel

One of the oldest hotels in Spain, historically known as the “Posada del Peine,” was founded in 1610.

Posada del Peine Hotel

The Posada del Peine’s funny name is because it offered travelers the service of “bed, sink, and comb.” The comb remained tied by a rope so they would not steal it.

Located halfway between Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor, on Calle Postas 17, this historic inn is currently a modern and comfortable four-star hotel, the Petit Palace Posada del Peine, was completely restored and reopened in 2005

Mercado de San Miguel

Located between the Cava de San Miguel and the small Plaza de San Miguel, this market will arouse a double interest in you, making it a place to visit on your trip to Madrid.

Mercado de San Miguel | San Miguel Market

On the one hand, the building’s beauty and historical value are Madrid’s last market built-in iron.

And on the other, the attractiveness of its interior offer, a proposal already quite joint in large European cities, in line with the traditional “Saluhalls” from the Nordic European countries. A wonderful mixture of a traditional food market and a tapas area with ​​succulent culinary specialties.


The Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid results from a profound remodeling carried out at the beginning of the century and completed in May 2009.

In its origins, the Mercado de San Miguel was initially built-in 1916 in the same space where the church, San Miguel de Los Octoes, stood since the 13th century but was destroyed by a fire in 1790.

The church got replaced by a perishable food market with a tremendously famous atmosphere and an accumulation of stalls.

Years later, at the end of the 19th century, removing the stalls and replacing them with a covered market was proposed within Madrid’s urban reorganization plan.

Several markets with iron structures were built in Madrid during this time, following the moment’s architectural trends.

The major remodeling that has been carried out recently and has kept the market closed for ten years has aimed to respect the building’s original structure as much as possible, given its cultural interest.

Following the example of the Boquería Market in Barcelona, the concept of it has changed, ​​combining the sale of quality perishable products with the offer of gastronomic tastings.

The result is a highly recommended gastronomic center for those who visit Madrid.

Hammam Al Andalus

Hammam Al Andalus

I thought a hammam was a kind of public bath, wherein Arab countries mainly fulfill a hygienic function, but they also become a meeting place with a religious aspect of purification of the spirit.

You will find the Hammam Al Andalus on Calle Atocha 14, next to Plaza de Benavente and very close to Plaza Mayor; the Hammam Al Andalus has been open to the public since 2003.

Compared to what you might think, it does not have the exact characteristics or the function of a typical hammam that you can find, for example, in Morocco.

Specifically, and from my experience, I will tell you that it is a place that combines leisure with health and, above all, relaxation. It is a mixture of a hammam from the Al Andalus period, with Roman and Turkish baths.

Due to its location in Madrid’s heart, it takes advantage of the cisterns through which water has flowed in the city since the Middle Ages, which you can see, for example, in numerous restaurants’ basements and bars in Madrid.

Don’t expect a succession of pools with water jets and cabins for different baths and treatments at the Hammam Al Andalus. You will find three wells, one with warm water, another with boiling water, and another with cold water, and during your stay, you can move freely from one pool to another.

You can also close the cycle by entering the Turkish bath or having tea in a restroom set up for it, where the so-called Rincón de las Esencias (The Essence Corner) is.

All this relaxed atmosphere, ambient music, water jets’ noise, and the scents of essence take center stage.

During the hammam experience, which lasts an hour and a half (two hours with the necessary times in the changing rooms), you can also enjoy a massage.

Specifically, you can opt for a relaxing massage with the essential oil of your choice from the Rincón mentioned earlier de las Esencias or a traditional Kessa purifying cleansing done with a cotton fiber glove plus a paste of red grape soap.

It is essential to book online very well in advance to enjoy this hammam experience.

Madrid's Plaza Mayor Restaurants and Stores
Stores and Restaurants in Madrid’s Plaza Mayor


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