They are not always the biggest, nor the oldest or the most famous, but they are the most evocative. The squares are also among the most fascinating places in Europe.
From a search by Jetcost, a search engine for flights and hotels, users indicated where they would like to spend a special moment on one of their terraces, contemplating the surroundings and feeling the atmosphere , and three of those places are here in Italy . In fact, we find Piazza Navona in Rome, Piazza Pretoria in Palermo and Piazza del Campo in Siena.
The most fascinating places in Europe: Piazza Navona
Located in the heart of Rome, it is one of the most fascinating places in Europe. Its origins date back to Roman times, when the Stadium of Domitian stood in its place, an imposing arena with 30,000 seats, although it was rebuilt later in the 15th century. Its three spectacular fountains, that of the Four Rivers, that of the Moor and the Fountain of Neptune, the surrounding baroque buildings, characteristic cafes, stalls and street performers make it an exciting outdoor scene all day long. The most curious and beautiful fountain is surely the Fountain of the Four Rivers, a work by Bernini, dedicated to four rivers of the four continents then known: the Nile for Africa, the Danube for Europe, the Rio de La Plata for America and the Ganges for Asia.
Piazza Pretoria, Palermo
La Fontana Pretoria, together with the homonymous square in which it is located, is one of the most fascinating places in Europe, the most photographed and admired in the Sicilian capital. It is a Renaissance fountain originally intended for the private garden of a Florentine noble palace. The decor represents the mythological world of antiquity, with deities, nymphs and nereids showing their naked bodies. The fountain, entirely in white Carrara marble, is built on two levels with an elliptical plan. Behind is the convent church of Santa Caterina d’Alessandria.
The most fascinating places in Europe: Piazza del Campo, Siena
The most beautiful and lively corner of Siena, it is also one of the few medieval squares in Europe with its particular shell shape. Contrary to what happened at the time, when the great lords built taller towers to show their power, the palaces surrounding the Piazza del Campo have the same height, with a very uniform facade. What has made it universally known is its particular and famous Festa del Palio, one of the main celebrations held every year in Italy and which dates back more than 400 years. The representatives of each contrada, that is to say of each district of Siena, cheer the jockey who represents them in a horse race which lasts a few minutes and whose only prize is a palio, that is to say a silk cloth, also called drappellone or chiffon. The Palio takes place on two dates, July 2 with the name of Palio di Provenzano, in honor of the Virgin of Provenzano, and August 16, known as Palio dell’Assunta, which commemorates the Christian feast of the Assumption of Mary.
Spain Square, Seville
In the heart of Maria Luisa Park is the most famous square in Seville, created by the Sevillian architect Anibal Gonzalez for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929 in Renaissance style and with a diameter of 200 meters. The most striking feature of this square are the 49 mosaic benches at the foot of the Plaza de España building. As a curiosity, we can mention the fact that it was chosen to represent Theed, the capital of the planet Naboo, homeland of Queen Padmé Amidala in the Star Wars saga.
The most fascinating places in Europe: Praça do Comércio, Lisbon
Praça do Comércio is one of the most emblematic places in Lisbon and can be considered the center of the city. It was the seat of the Royal Palace which, following the strong and historic earthquake of 1755, was completely destroyed. The Marquis of Pombal, who redesigned the city after the earthquake, wanted to rebuild this square in the shape of the letter U. Near the square there are several restaurants and cafes, including “Martinho da Arcada”, one of the most old places in the city.
Trafalgar Square, London
It was created in 1830 to commemorate the British Navy’s victory over the Spanish and French at the Battle of Trafalgar. In the center of the square stands the majestic Nelson’s Column, almost 50 meters high, in honor of Admiral Nelson, who died in command of the British Navy during the Battle of Trafalgar. As in other iconic sites, the lions surrounding the statue were constructed from cast bronze from the cannons of the French fleet.
The most fascinating places in Europe: Plaza Mayor, Madrid
It is one of the most beautiful squares in Europe for its lively architecture and its charm of yesteryear. This huge esplanade, located in the center of the city, began to be built in the 17th century by order of King Philip III, whose equestrian statue sculpted in bronze stands in the square, and was inaugurated in 1620. Formerly it was the scene of many public events. Under its arcades you will find traditional shops, as well as a multitude of bars and restaurants, and there is still a bustling stamp and coin market, as well as a Christmas market.
Old Town Square, Prague
Dating back to the 12th century, Prague’s Old Town Square is a magnificent example of medieval architecture. Dominated by the Old Town Hall, the Astronomical Clock and the Týn Church, it is also the liveliest place in the Czech capital and within walking distance of the famous Charles Bridge, also an icon of the city. In the old town hall is the imposing astronomical clock of Prague, which marks the hours between 9 and 23, driving the figures of the twelve apostles.
Obradoiro Square, Santiago de Compostela
It is one of the most representative squares in Spain. Its Galician name seems to come from the stonemasons who worked on the construction of the baroque facade of the cathedral, which dominates the square and welcomes thousands of pilgrims who arrive on the Camino de Santiago. The buildings that surround the square represent the main poles of the life of the Galician capital: religion, university education, assistance to pilgrims and travelers and administration.
São Tiago Square, Guimaraes
It is the central point of the historic center of this city, where the Portuguese national identity is said to have been born. It is also believed to be the birthplace of the first King of Portugal, D. Afonso Henriques, or Alfonso I of Portugal in 1109, when the town was still a small medieval settlement protected by a stone and wooden castle. Guimarães, which is one of Portugal’s 18 World Heritage Sites, is an outstanding example of the transformation of a medieval village into a modern city.
Holy Trinity Square, Budapest
Better known than the other major European squares, the Piazza della Santissima Trinità is one of the most beautiful squares on the continent. Located at the highest point of Buda, it is surrounded by historical buildings and monuments. There is also an iconic statue dedicated to the Holy Trinity paying homage to victims of the 1691 bubonic plague and a more modern 1906 statue of Saint Stephen in front of the Fisherman’s Bastion.
The most fascinating places in Europe: the Grand-Place in Brussels
It is one of the most fascinating attractions in Europe. Like many large squares, it has been the scene of festive and dramatic events, and the architecture that surrounds it makes it a true work of art. The main and oldest building is the Town Hall, dating from 1459, with a 96 meter high tower topped by a statue of Saint Michael and a roof with dozens of skylights. The Maison du Roi was built in 1536 and was for many years the residence of sovereigns, but now houses the City Museum.
The most fascinating places in Europe: Piazza della Borsa, Bordeaux
It is the center of Bordeaux, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the quintessence of 18th century French architecture. Although it is surrounded by imposing buildings, curiously it is the body of water reflected by its facades on the banks of the Garonne since 2006 that has attracted the most attention from visitors and delighted children and not. This monumental complex, made up of the Hôtel de la Bourse and the Hôtel des Fermes, is an ideal and original example of a royal square intended to serve as a setting for the equestrian statue of the King of France.
Plaza Mayor, Salamanca
It is one of the most beautiful monumental urban squares in Europe. Its construction in the Baroque style began in 1729 according to plans by Alberto Churriguera. Located in the center of the city, it forms an irregular quadrilateral with arches on all four sides, with three floors on each facade, and the Town Hall. The royal pavilion features an effigy of King Ferdinand III the Saint and the medallions in the spandrels of the arches represent the Spanish monarchs.
The most fascinating places in Europe: Marienplatz, Munich
It has been the main square of Monaco since 1158. For the more athletic, it is worth trying to climb the 306 steps of the tower of the Church of San Pietro to enjoy a panoramic view. Three times a day, the Glockenspiel, a set of 32 figures and 43 bells, comes alive with the ringing of bells and dancing figurines that tell two episodes from the history of the city of Munich in the 16th century. Many of the Old Town’s commercial thoroughfares start from here, and some of Munich’s oldest beer gardens are also located here.
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