Most of the time, set in the center of an Old Town, square, plaza, or piazza is what makes the city so charming and spirited! Not only are they the principal setting of significant buildings and monuments, but it is also a place of life and conversation! There are plenty of stunning ones in Europe, and if you are on your way to a Eurotrip, you might want to check our suggestions of the top 5 famous squares on the continent you should definitely visit!
1. Piazza Navona, Rome
Built in the 1st century AD, Piazza Navona is easily the most famous square in Europe. However, what now is a gorgeous public space open for Italians and tourists used to be a bit different, and years of history have left their evident mark.
By the end of the 15th century, Piazza Navona has become an embodiment of Baroque Roman architecture, something you can still witness today. Take in all the beautiful baroque buildings and the two striking fountains serving as a meeting point for people since the beginning of Roman history!
Nowadays, people get to enjoy picturesque cafes, idle chatter, and performers of all kinds. It also makes for a perfect alfresco setting, so make sure you have time to sit and relax!
2. Marienplatz, Munich
More commonly known as Mary’s Square in English, Marienplatz is the main central area in Munich, Germany, and has been carrying the title since 1158!
In the Middle Ages, the square was used to most of its capacity – serving as the gathering place for markets, performances, and even tournaments! Nowadays, however, you will not see such sights, but maybe we should leave the past where it belongs and rather enjoy the gothic magnificence of a Marian column and Old City Hall.
If you are in Germany in December, we suggest you visit Marienplatz for the loveliest and most colorful Christmas markets, selling food, drinks, and stunning crafted gifts!
3. Residenzplatz, Salzburg
If you treat our list as an itinerary, we suggest you hop on the Munich to Salzburg train and come see one of the most delightful city squares in Austria – Residenzplatz!
Enclosed by Salzburg Cathedral on the south and Neue Residenz (New Residence) on the east, Residenzplatz creates beautiful Rennaissance scenery, complete with the bell tower and several historical buildings. The space is very open and bright, which makes for the perfect spot if you want to meet up and simply spend some time relaxing or conversing with the locals.
Just like the other ones on our list, the central plaza in Salzburg has witnessed a lot of commotion in its making. Historians just recently discovered remains of a cemetery beneath the square, and even ruins of private houses, demolished to make space for Residenzplatz. So, obviously, many sacrifices were made to make the square into what it is today. But that just adds to the historical side of Salzburg!
4. St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City
Certainly, one of the holiest sites in Europe, and the most important Catholic center in the world, St. Peter’s Square, sits in front of St. Peter’s Basilica, the stunning Rennaissance church and the most sacred place in the Christian world.
Besides the impressive size of 320 meters long and 240 meters wide, the most impressive part about St. Peter’s Square is its 284 columns and 88 pilasters edging the squares in four rows. The place of numerous historical events, especially liturgies and greetings of the Pope, the court is a must-visit for any traveler!
We also suggest you capture the moment on camera, as it makes for beautiful and picturesque surroundings. Especially the fountains by Bernini and Maderno. Did you know that the obelisk in the center of the square was carried from Egypt to Rome in 1586? Fascinating!
5. Plaza Mayor, Madrid
Last but not least, let’s check out the central plaza in Spain’s capital city! Plaza Mayor was once the center of Old Madrid, and it is to this day the most important site in the city.
Dating back to the 15th century, the square was used as a market space, was reconstructed and remodeled, and now stands as the most energetic and essential area for Spaniards. Nowadays, friends meet for a coffee, lovers get together for a date, and tourists reserve a spot for dinner! However, it was once used for executions and bullfights, yet still managed to keep most of its charm.
Make sure to address the three salient monuments in Plaza Mayor: the Equestrian Statue of Phillip III, Casa de la Panaderia, which was once the most important bakery in Madrid, and the porch of El Arco de Cuchilleros!
Include as many squares as possible in your plans for the next Eurotrip! And if it so happens that you go in another direction, make sure to look for the central square in every city you visit – the life and spirit of the country live there. Good luck, and happy square-hunting!