Nestled in an alcove just off of Calle Mayor, between the famous Puerta Del Sol and Royal Palace of Madrid, sits the charming Plaza de la Villa, or the City Hall Plaza. First known as the Plaza de San Salvador due to the nearby church and renamed the Noble and Loyal Villa of Madrid by King Henry IV of Castile, this plaza is one of the best preserved monuments in Madrid. The Plaza de la Villa represents one of the main medieval centers of the city, and connects to three of the main medieval streets – Calle del Cordón, Calle Madrid, and of course Calle del Codo where our main office is located! So while you´re dropping by for a visit to rent one of our bikes, take one of our city tours, or starting one of our unforgettable journeys through Spain, come check out this medieval marvel and its three famous buildings: the Lujanes House and Tower, the Cisneros House and the Casa de la Villa, for which the plaza is named.
The Casa y Torre de Lujanes, or the Lujanes House and Tower were constructed in 1494 by the Alvaro de Lujon family who owned this property for 200 years. The tower is actually the oldest part of the structure, having been completed a little earlier in the 15th century, and is said to be the oldest building in the city of Madrid. The house and tower were built in the Mudejar style, an architectural and decorative style found mostly in the regions of Aragón and Castile, and is a style strongly influenced by Moorish taste and craftsmanship. Today, the Lujanes House and Tower stand as an example of one of the many styles and traditions left behind by Moorish rule early on in Spain´s long history.
Madrileños also have a long standing oral history about the Lujanes House. According to stories passed down through time, the Lujanes House may have been home to King Francis I of France. He was captured in the Battle of Parvia in 1525 and was imprisoned by Carlos V (Charles the First) of Spain. Many people believe that he was held here, where the two kings had a little battle of their own. Oral tradition says that anytime the king of France refused to bow to King Carlos V, the king had the door to the tower lowered, just enough so that each time the French king attempted to pass through he would have to bow to the Spanish king waiting on the other side. While the Lujanes House and Tower are not open to the public, the structure does house the Royal Academy of Moral and Political Science, as well as the Royal Economic Society for Friends of Madrid.
Just to the right of the Lujanes House and Tower is the second oldest building in the Plaza, the Casa de Cisneros, or the Cisneros House, built in 1537 by the nephew of the founder of the University of Alcalá, Benito Jimenes de Cisneros. The building has a Plateresque style front, which is an architectural style taken from the Gothic period in Castile. Though this style is traditionally known to be found only in Spain, it is a unique architectural style to find in Madrid proper. Since its restoration in 1909, the Cisneros House has been integrated into the property of the Casa de la Villa, located directly to its right.
Speaking of the Casa de la Villa, or City Hall, this building is the third oldest building in the Plaza and used to serve as Madrid´s – you guessed it – city hall. In 1645 architect Juan Gomez de Mora was asked to create a meeting space to hold various council meetings, and in 1696 he completed this stunning structure. The building has two separate main entrances, one which leads to the city hall and one that leads to the old prison, as the building historically served as both. The Casa de la Villa façade includes gorgeous granite, and above the main entrance you can´t miss Madrid´s coat of arms.
If any of the history of this quaint medieval square entices you, make sure you stop by our office, rent one of our bikes, and transcend years of history on two wheels.
*Photo credit to all respective photographers. Photo sources: hoypormadrid.com, turismomadrid.net, wikipedia.org, and commons.wikipedia.org (firstname.lastname@example.org).
With Assistance From: gomadrid.com, es.madrid.com and aviewoncities.com.