Piazza, plaza, place, platz…each language has its own word for square. Although these ‘squares’ usually have four sides, I’m not talking about your average geometric form. Europe has something many other places in the world just don’t have: the concept of the public square. These are lively places where people can hang out, shop, eat, drink, walk around and simply be. Europe has endless public squares, and some simply shouldn’t be missed.

Best Historic and Beautiful Squares To Visit in Spain / Europe
Plaza de Espana. Seville, Spain.

Plaza España, Seville, Spain

How many squares do you know that have a moat? The Plaza España might be the most visually appealing square in Europe, or maybe even the world. The 50,000 square meter space has four bridges, hundreds of arches, 48 pavilions and endless colorful tiles, plus a few fountains. If it looks familiar, some parts of Star Wars have been filmed there.

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Grote Markt, Antwerp, Belgium

Home to the Antwerp City Hall as well as 16th century guildhalls, the famous Brabo Fountain takes center stage in the square. During the colder months, the square features an ice rink, plus a Christmas market around the holidays.

Duomo Square in Milan Italy | Winetraveler.com
Duomo Square at sunrise, Milan, Italy.

Piazza Del Duomo, Milan, Italy

Surrounded by some of Italy’s most impressive sights, this square dates back to the 14th century. Besides the towering cathedral, which took over five centuries to complete, the square boasts five palaces and the famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Italy’s oldest shopping mall.

RELATED: 10 Essential Things To Do in Milan

Praco de Commercio, Lisbon, Portugal

Perched on the banks of the Tangus River, Lisbon’s Praco de Commercio is actually U-shaped. One of Portugal’s most important kings, Carlos I was assassinated there in 1908. Nowadays, the square is home to the oldest cafe in the city, Martin da Arcada.

Place de la Bourse, Bordeux, France | Winetraveler.com
Place de la Bourse, Bordeux, France

Place de la Bourse, Bordeux, France

One of France’s most well-known sights and part of an UNESCO World Heritage city center, the Bourse Square is the quintessential  example of 18th century French architecture. The massive square features the current Chamber of Commerce, the National Museum of Customs and a captivating sculpture named ‘Three Graces’.

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Marienplatz, Munich, Germany
Marienplatz, Munich, Germany

Marienplatz, Munich, Germany

Marienplatz has been Munich’s main square since 1158. Named after a large Marian column which stands in the center of the square, you can view both the new and old City Hall buildings there. A Christmas market also comes to the space around the holidays.

Prague's Old Town Square, also known as Staré Mesto in Czech.
Prague’s Old Town Square, also known as Staré Mesto in Czech.

Old Town Square, Prague, Czech Republic

Known as Staromestske Namesti in Czech, Prague’s Old Town Square has one of the world’s most famous astronomical clocks. In fact, the clock is the oldest astronomical clock still in operation, dating back to 1410. A variety of churches and buildings add interest to the square, all created in varying architectural styles.

READ: The Perfect 4 Day Prague Itinerary For Foodies & Culture Enthusiasts

Domplatte Square, Cologne, German

Home to UNESCO World Heritage Site Cologne Cathedral, the Germanic spires of the church tower over the square, which measures at a whopping 75,000 square feet. Known as the ‘heart of Cologne,’ the Domplatte connects the city center with the hill on which the magnificent cathedral stands.

Plaza Mayor in Madrid Spain
Plaza Mayor in Madrid Spain

Plaza Mayor, Madrid, Spain

Once used for bullfights and the Spanish Inquisition trials several hundred years ago, today, tourists admire the 237 red balconies cover the square. With plenty of bars, restaurants and souvenir shops lining the plaza, you can stop for a beer and soak up the surrounding ambiance.

Piazza del Plebiscito Naples, Italy

The endless Piazza del Plebiscito has hosted concerts from big-name acts like Elton John and Maroon 5. Equally spectacular without a large event, the square is flanked by the Naples Royal Palace and the Church of San Francesco di Paola, topped with a 175-foot high dome.

RELATED: 10 Authentic Things To Do in Naples Italy

Stortorget Square in Stockholm, Sweden.
Stortorget Square in Stockholm, Sweden.

Stortorget Square, Stockholm, Sweden

If you’re in search of colorful living, start in Stockholm’s Stortorget Square. Although it’s home to the Stock Exchange Building, the real intrigue comes from the smaller colorful buildings that line the plaza. Even on the greyest of days, the brightly contrasting facades are a treat to admire.

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Lori Zaino
Senior European Correspondent at Winetraveler
Lori Zaino is a freelance travel, food, fashion and wine writer based in Madrid. You can likely find her on a plane jetting off to an exotic destination, eating tapas or sipping a glass of Rioja wine.
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