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The Plaza Mayor and the Shaping of Baroque Madrid


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  • Date Published: May 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521111539

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About the Authors
  • The Plaza Mayor and the Shaping of Baroque Madrid examines the transformation of Madrid from a secondary market town to the capital of the worldwide, Spanish Habsburg empire. Focusing on the planning and building of Madrid's principal public monument, the Plaza Mayor, it is based on analysis of archival documents, architectural drawings, as well as the surviving built fabric of the city itself. In this 2003 book, Jesús Escobar demonstrates how the shaping of the city square and its environs reflects the bureaucratic nature of government in Madrid chosen in 1561 to serve as a capital of Spain. He also examines the careful planning of the city, with particular regard to how the necessities of housing and public works that accompanied its new capital status were accommodated. The process reveals the sophistication of town planning in late sixteenth-century Spain and forces a reconsideration of Spanish urbanism within the contexts of contemporary European and Spanish colonial developments.

    • Was the first English-language book on architecture and urbanism in Renaissance and Baroque Madrid
    • Based on archival material, including drawings
    • Amply illustrated with photographs, maps and drawings
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    • Joint winner of the 2004 Eleanor Tufts Award for a distinguished publication written in English on a topic pertaining to the art and architecture of Spain and Portugal

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Jesus Escobar's book, The Plaza Mayor and the Shaping of Baroque Madrid, is a thorough examination of the Plaza Mayor and the roots of its development, marking it as one of the most important architectural advancements of seventeenth-century Spain. Through careful analysis of a variety of sources including drawings, etchings, paintings, archival documents and the remains of the city itself, the books illustrates how the Plaza Mayor became central to the architecture as well as the social and cultural fabric of Madrid, the capital of the Spanish Habsburg empire worldwide. Escobar succeeds in placing this monument in the context of broader debates about urban design and absolutism, uniting the world of Spain and the Americas. The committee was particularly impressed by the thoroughness of his research, rigor of his arguments, and significance of his findings. This book makes an important contribution to the study of Spanish architectural history, it fills a need for a book in English on the topic, and will likely remain an authoritative reference on the Plaza Mayor and the growth of Madrid as a ceremonial and political capital for years to come.' Eleanor Tufts Award Committee

    'The book is very well written and the impressive amount of archival material is presented very clearly and succinctly with flashes of humour which do not detract from its profound scholarship.' Art Newspaper

    '… the first to offer a detailed and fully contextualized account of the square's construction. … Solid and well documented throughout, this elegant volume also brings much-needed attention to what was - and remains - one of Europe's premier urban spaces.' Journal of Urban History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2009
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521111539
    • length: 376 pages
    • dimensions: 244 x 170 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.6kg
    • contains: 124 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Madrid, town and court
    2. Architecture and bureaucracy
    3. Sixteenth-century initiatives
    4. The panadería and its impact
    5. Seventeenth-century reforms
    6. The plaza mayor as political symbol.

  • Author

    Jesús Escobar, Northwestern University, Illinois
    Jesús Escobar is Associate Professor in the Department of Art History at Northwestern University and a specialist in the art, architecture, and urbanism of early modern Spain, Italy, and the Spanish world. His book The Plaza Mayor and the Shaping of Baroque Madrid won the Eleanor Tufts Award from the American Society for Hispanic Art Historical Studies and has been revised in a Spanish-language edition (Editorial Nerea, 2008). He is currently at work on a book project that examines architectural and urban interventions in seventeenth-century Madrid from a local and transatlantic perspective.


    • Joint winner of the 2004 Eleanor Tufts Award for a distinguished publication written in English on a topic pertaining to the art and architecture of Spain and Portugal

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