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Old 09-10-2019, 08:07 AM
Status: "Life goes on..." (set 10 days ago)
 
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It is often said among certain circles that the first renaissance cities were designed and built by the Spanish and the first city they built with that characteristics was Santo Domingo. The era of discovery was a time when the Middle Ages was coming to a close and the Renaissance period was flourishing due to the findings of several ancient Roman practices, how cities were built among them. While the mentality in Europe was shifting from Medieval Ages to the Renaissance, European cities remained in their Medieval styles for much longer. It was in America where the first of all things from Europe remain to be built and Santo Domingo became Europe's first Renaissance city despite a person needed to cross the Atlantic Ocean in order to see it.

Things that today are seen as normal was then a revolution. Something as simple as streets that were straight and tree lined promenades was a wonder unknown in Europe, yet a feature of the landscape in Santo Domingo. The main aspect for this thread is the Plaza Mayor (Mayor Square) also known as the Plaza de Armas and in México the Zócalo. Whether the Spanish built the cities from scratch or re-built them in Spanish styles where natives used to have their cities, the Plaza Mayor was applied throughout Spanish America. It consisted of a mayor square that was devoid of monuments, trees, or any decoration whatsoever. On one side was the main church of the place, usually a Roman Catholic cathedral. Also surrounding the square was city hall, the main home of the Archbishop, the city's jail, etc.

Today even the Plaza Mayor that still conserves most of its styles includes something that originally wasn't there, such as a massive sidewalk or a flag or monuments. Many Plaza Mayor became leafy urban parks with benches and other aspects. Many had there name changed. The surrounding buildings were conserved, re-built, or completely changed through the years. Regardless of the changes that were made to many, the original Plaza Mayor is still there, the square that was the center of all Spanish cities in America.

The following posts will include the cities name and the original Plaza Mayor of various cities in Spanish America. Some are small cozy places and others are big squares. With some I will also include a small description of the place. All images are taken from Google Street View.
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Old 09-10-2019, 08:25 AM
Status: "Life goes on..." (set 10 days ago)
 
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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

The first Plaza Mayor built by the Spanish was made in Santo Domingo. The city has the distinction of becoming the first city built by Europeans in America, first city in Americas to receive a coat of arm from a European king, and the main point of migration from Europe to America during the first half of the 1500's. The city is also known for having been home to most Spanish conquistadors for years before they conquered various places in America (Diego Velázquez conquered Cuba, Juan de Esquivel Jamaica, Juan Ponce de León Puerto Rico, Hernán Cortés Mexico, Vasco Núñez de Balboa Panama, Francisco Pizarro Perú, etc.

Today the Plaza Mayor has a new name and is riddled with mature trees planted in the late 1800's. In the middle is a statue to Christopher Columbus, brother of the founder of the city and stayed many times in Santo Domingo as it was his final place in most of his voyage, named after his father who was named Domingo. The statue was created in the late 1800's and at that time place there. There are benches and the floor is the typical bricks of the area, though originally it was just a square with not even a sidewalk to differentiated from the streets. It is still flanked by the Oldest Cathedral of the New World on its southern edge. Many of its buildings to the right and left side are originals, but with a newer facade. For example, the Palacio de Borgellá is the same from colonial times except for the arched balconies which were built in the 1820's or the First City Hall of the New World is originally there but the facade was built in the early 1900's including its bell tower. On the northern side it has a combination of buildings, some from colonial times and some from modern times in the XX century.













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Old 09-10-2019, 08:38 AM
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Lima, Peru

Lima was also known as La Ciudad de los Reyes (City of Kings) due to its great wealth and the major city in South America and one of the greatest cities built by the Spaniards in all of Spain, or how it was officially known Las Españas (The Spains). At the main cathedral, which is one of the greatest buildings built by the Spanish in the New World, lies the remains of Francisco Pizarro, Spanish conqueror of Peru. The Plaza Mayor also has the Presidential Palace taking a whole side and it's an impressive structure. The square itself was remodeled a few years ago and royal palm trees were planted, an imported species from Central America and various islands of the Caribbean where it grows naturally in the terrain. The trees do look a little dusty due to the desert climate that affects the city for much of the year and the desert that surrounds the place. The center has a nice fountain and beautiful grand light fixtures stud the place. Peru was always called Peru, even at the time it was one more province of Spain.









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Old 09-10-2019, 08:56 AM
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Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala, Guatemala

The city is popularly known as Antigua Guatemala (Old Guatemala), the original capital of much of the Central American isthmus. The Plaza Mayor conserves most of the buildings from colonial times, but the square itself was turned into a leafy area and very lively. The streets still have the original stones.











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Old 09-10-2019, 09:10 AM
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San Juan, Puerto Rico

Originally the Plaza Mayor was twice as big, but there were a few buildings built in the XX century on half of the square, reducing the original size of the square. Its the only square that has been affected by this in the entire hemisphere, some were destroyed and many were modified, but never like this. In any case, the square that does exist is very beautiful with fountains, benches, and beautiful trees. It is surrounded by well maintained buildings with colonial styles (it has to be understood that the Spanish colonial period was among the longest lasting in Puerto Rico, so whats considered colonial styles is much wider in Puerto Rico than in most other places in Spanish America) and more modern styles, such as Art Deco which is a style adopted from the USA. Hopefully they will destroy the intrusive buildings and restore the original size of the square. The main cathedral isn't in the square, but it's very near by and has the remains of the Spanish conquistador of Puerto Rico Juan Ponce de León.









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Old 09-10-2019, 11:28 AM
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Mexico City, Mexico

One of the most well known Plaza Mayor is Mexico City's Zócalo. Aside from the light fixtures, the flag in the middle, and the sidewalk that covers the square and separates it from the streets; the Zócalo looks basically the same as it was in colonial times. On one side is the main cathedral, which is the largest church ever built by the Spanish in America. On another side is the Presidential Palace where the president usually stands in the balcony and addresses/watch the festivities for Mexico's independence day and the new year. A few blocks away is the Jesús de Nazareno Church where Hernán Cortés, conqueror of Mexico and in many ways the creator of modern Mexican people, is buried. Mexico City is known as La Ciudad de los Palacios (City of Palaces) due to the concentration of palaces the city gained during the colonial period. This was not only the center of Mexico City and Mexico, but the center of the Spanish Empire in North America, seat of the province of New Spain.









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Old 09-10-2019, 11:43 AM
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Quito, Ecuador

For a long time, the city of Quito was one of the most important cities in the hemisphere and becoming a major place for education during the Spanish colonial area. Its Plaza Mayor is one of the prettiest with its white and handsome buildings surrounding the place. The square itself became an urban park with nice gardens that include plants species native to the area in the Andes Mountains. In the center is a monument that elicits respect by the way that it looks.















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Old 09-10-2019, 12:13 PM
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Santiago de Chile, Chile

Santiago de Chile's original Plaza Mayor has been changed completely except the location. This is probably due to two things: first, Chile (always called like that) was a poor and on the edge of the Spanish Empire and of the world; secondly, the massive earthquakes that rocks the area on a decade basis is not something that can be resisted by monumental Spanish colonial buildings. The surrounding buildings are newer, although quite a few are very handsome. The square itself has bern turn into an urban park with mature trees, monuments, benches, etc.













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Old 09-10-2019, 12:30 PM
 
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keep them comming
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Old 09-10-2019, 02:52 PM
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Bogota, Colombia

The Plaza Mayor has gone a few changes, but it has been left as a main square without vegetation. One interesting fact of this square is that following independence it was renamed Plaza de la Constitución (and later Plaza de Bolívar, its current name), but the Rolos (native of Bogota) continue to call it Plaza Mayor. The main cathedral in Colombia's capital stands guard over the square. There are other palaces bordering the square, including the Capitolio Nacional (designed by a Danish and subsequent modifications by an Italian, French, and Colombians architects) and the modern but still grandiose Palacio de Justicia. In the center is a statue of Simón Bolívar, liberator of La Gran Colombia which included the modern day countries of Venezuela, Ecuador, and Panama (the last country to separate from Colombia, this one with the decisive help of the United States).











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