Photo: Plaza Mayor by © Engel & Völkers Madrid
Very close to Plaza Mayor is Plaza de la Provincia that meets with the 17th century Palacio de Santa Cruz. This used to be a prison, but today, it is home to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. If we get into the core characteristics of the narrow streets, we will reach Arenal Street, one of the main arteries of Madrid de los Austrias.
By Arenal Street to the west, you will arrive at San Ginés Church, a 17th century temple that's a national historic monument. The street ends at Plaza de Isabel II, called Caños del Peral. You can see many old theatres here, including the 19th century Teatro Real.
In the nearby Plaza de Oriente, a watchtower and fortress are situated on an elevated position. This is where the Arabs used to watch the city from the tower. Today, the area is home to Palacio Real, la Catedral de la Almudena, and Jardines de Sabatini, to name a few.
As you start exploring the neighbourhood of Santiago, you will hear about the oldest church in the capital; San Nicolás de Bar from the 12th century. On the other side of the district, you will reach Mayor Street, which is home to Duques de Uceda Palace. Before reaching Plaza de la Villa, the other landmarks that you should visit are Plaza de la Cruz Verde and the church of San Pedro el Viejo or the Basílica de San Miguel in the busy San Miguel Market.
Getting to know the historic Plaza de la Villa is essential in understanding what Madrid de los Austrias is all about. With its three historic buildings, houses and Lujanes Tower (15th century), Casa de Cisneros (16th century) and Casa de la Villa (17th century), this is the place where Felipe IV held many council meetings in the city hall before it was transferred to Palacio de Cibeles in 2007.