They’re the perfect places to sip a latte, browse the fresh goodies at the market or admire the local architecture. Today the folks from Holiday Lettings reveal to the Love and Road readers all the details about the most tantalising piazzas, plazas and squares in the world.
Djemaa el Fna in Marrakech, Morocco
Take a morning stroll through Djemaa el Fna at the heart of the medina and you’ll be captivated by snake charmers and juggling monkeys. As the day progresses, magicians, storytellers and peddlers of traditional medicines become the main entertainment. Hundreds of food stalls pack the area when dark falls – the tagines and couscous are delicious.
Head north to the maze-like souks for mint tea and bartering, and see the sparks fly as the tinsmiths at the Place des Ferblantiers work their magic on traditional filigree lamps. Try rich saffron at Kasbah’s Spice Souk or head to Souk Semmarine for delicious olives, pointy slippers and magic carpets. Finally, catch your breath with an orange-flower oil massage in a domed hammam.
Plaza Mayor in Salamanca, Spain
The Plaza Mayor has been the focus of city life for over 250 years. Formerly a bullfighting arena, this 17-century plaza is reputedly Spain’s loveliest central square. Its baroque beauty will astound you. You’ll light up at the evening illuminations and the roving tuna (student minstrel groups in traditional garb). The buzz always continues well into the early morning.
Whether blushing at sunrise or bathed in the beauty of sunset, Salamanca’s got a magical atmosphere. The plaza is made of gorgeously luminous sandstone from Spain’s Golden Age that yields easily to carving. Study the biblical reliefs on churches, gaze up at angels or gargoyles overhead and spy the university portal’s good-luck frog.
Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium
You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a medieval manuscript when you see this square’s gorgeous 15th-century architecture. Admire the Town Hall’s striking Gothic tower and the guild houses’ exquisite decoration. Every other August, catch the amazing flower carpet of over 700,000 vivid, fresh begonias arranged in bold patterns.
The city’s not all mussels, beer, waffles, chips and chocolate (though let’s face it, they’re a pretty good start!). Ride to the top of the 102m-tall Atomium and look up at the shiny chrome and steel atom model to appreciate its sheer scale. And why not visit the Belgian Comic Strip Centre? It has over 5,000 original drawings and a whole area dedicated to Tin Tin.
Piazza Navona in Rome, Italy
Is this a piazza or an outdoor museum? The cafés are super-stylish, the gelaterias are irresistible and the architecture’s spectacular. With fabulous fountains – just look at Bernini’s Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi – chic palazzos and ornate buildings bordering the square, Piazza Navona provides a magnificent backdrop for savouring every last drop of your espresso.
History, human genius and the heat of the midday sun make Rome one of the world’s greatest places to visit. Just stroll through the Roman Forum, hike the Appian Way and take in the magnitude of the Colosseum to realise it for yourself. Then fill the rest of your trip with sumptuous cappuccinos, indulgent trattorias and trendy wine bars. Bellissimo!
Red Square in Moscow, Russia
Dubbed Russia’s heart and soul, the wonderful Red Square is home to the country’s most iconic buildings, the Kremlin and St Basil’s Cathedral. With its impressive onion domes, soaring towers and massive red-brick walls, it radiates a sense of eminence and opulence. If you fancy it, you can even visit Lenin’s mummy at his mausoleum on the square.
Nearby Vernisazh market provides Moscow’s largest and original range of dolls, lacquer art and wooden folk art. View Soviet-era architecture on a tour of the city’s metro stations to see if there was a secret line for the KGB. And how about the Bolshoi for the perfect night out? The beautiful auditorium has been shimmering away for over 235 years and is wonderfully romantic.