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11. Berdura Plaza

Plaza Verdura or Berdura Plaza is another of Tolosa’s most iconic spots. Markets have been held in this square since the Middle Ages. In days gone by it was the site of a corn exchange where, as well as vegetables, meat and fish were sold every day. Today it is the setting of the Saturday flower and plant market.

The square started to take on its present aspect in 1840, when the corn exchange was demolished and houses were built on either side. Look at the arches: they still bear the numbers identifying the stalls of the artisans enabling the town hall to collect the tax.

Another curious point: have you noticed that the two buildings are asymmetrical? The side closest to the town hall has 13 arches, while the other side has one less.

In the late 19th century it became obvious that the market needed a covered area. Thus, in 1899, the glass roof was added, work of the architect Jose Alejandro Mugica, outstanding for its symmetry and light. That’s why the locals know the square by its other nickname: ‘crystal square’. Until a few decades ago, cars would park down either side, and there was even a bus stop. Hard to imagine, right?

But there’s more. The clock on the belltower of Santa Maria church can be seen from a particular spot of the colonnade. It’s said that the boys and girls playing in the area would run to this spot to see the time, so as not to be late home. How times have changes!

Let me tell you a secret so that you can find it: the point is marked in blue on one of the walls.

Lastly, note the bust in the centre. It represents the poet Ramos Azkarate, who put the lyrics to one of the best known songs in the Carnival repertoire: Galtzaundi.

You can listen to it as you leave this stop, performed during the concert accompanying the carnival opening by the Municipal Brass Band, which on the Sunday prior to firing the rocket sees hundreds of people gather in this same square.

Continue through the Old Quarter until coming to Andia Tower.