Christmas Market in Madrid, Spain’s Plaza Mayor
I captured this photograph on December 6th, 2012 as thousands of people were out visiting the Christmas Market in Madrid, Spain’s famous Plaza Mayor.
The centrally located Plaza Mayor dates back to the Habsburg period, has nine entrances feeding into the square, and today is a major tourist attraction. Under normal conditions, Plaza Mayor is a magnet for tourists looking for tapas bars, restaurants, boutique shopping, and wonderful people watching.
However, during the Christmas season, Plaza Mayor is taken over by hundreds of vender stalls where Madrid residents can purchase Christmas trees, decorations, statues, and the materials needed to build a nativity scene which the locals call a Belén.
As we walked among the throngs on the ancient cobble-stones, I couldn’t help thinking that my wife would have a far easier time getting me to enjoy Christmas shopping if we had such a venue available. This was certainly more festive than a traditional American mall.
Here, the sun was shining, the air was a brisk 50 degrees, coffee venders were selling piping-hot glasses of cortado (expresso cut w/ a small amount of warm milk), little children walked around with wide-eyed wonder, and the festive mood was so evident you could nearly touch it.
And, perhaps the most fun of all, these weren’t tourists. These were local Madrid residents out doing what local Madrid residents love to do. What a glorious opportunity to have the chance to blend in with the locals rather than mobs of tourists.
It was a great day!