The first Plaza that I have gone to study is the Plaza de las Armas in Concepcion. It is the central plaza of Concepcion. I will take advantage of this plaza as an example of what the basic elements of central plazas are in Latin American countries. First off, Plazas are one of the oldest parts of a town, they are put in place when the city was built or colonized and towns and cities would begin to spread out from the centralPlaza. In so saying, most often the plaza has a lot of historical significance. You will generally always find a catholic church or cathedral
at one side of the the plaza. you will also generally see government buildings, banks, commercial areas and sometimes prominent schools there also. In the plaza itself you will see things like statues, fountains and even stages for events. The statues usually have some historical significance like this one,
which is of a Mapucha Indian chief who helped the Chileans win there independents from the Spanish. They will also a lot of times have religious ties like this angle atop of the fountain.
The thing that amazes me and which has drawn me to study plazas is the amount of use by the people and the way it draws the community together. As you can see the whole plaza is filled and not just with one certain demographic but of all kinds. There are parents with their kids, old ladies, old men, young couples making out, beggars, Gypsies, street performers, groups of teenagers, business men, rich, poor, religious missionaries from different sects, street vendors and tourists. I was able to see and witness all this in just one visit to the plaza. It is a marvel that one space could be utilized by so many different kinds of people. This is what designers rarely ever achieve or even strive for.
As I was writing this blog I came up with the idea of this slide show to at least give the feeling of what I see going on in the plaza and the variety of people and their activities. Here is a quick video that I put together from what photos I have right now and then I will put a final one together. My wife says that this so far has been her favorite part of our trip. She calls it going to the plaza to people watch.