Squares (plazas, piazzas, places) are great tourist stops. They are usually a beehive of activity, with restaurants, shops, street performers, and often major attractions. They are great places for people-watching and frequently offer a respite from sightseeing since they are places to relax, where the tourist can have a glass of wine or beer or a cup of coffee or tea.
In this series, I will list my favorite squares around the world, with the reasons why they are special. I will present them in groups of five (5) although I will not attempt to rank within the group. However, groups are ranked; group 1 is my all-time favorite 5, while group 2 is next, etc.
Travelers Square, Mont Tremblant, Quebec Province, Canada* — This is the main meeting place in this charming little village known far and wide for its skiing. The clock tower is a village landmark and this is where visitors can enter the pedestrian-only streets filled with restaurants and interesting shops.
Dam Square, Amsterdam, Netherlands* — The reason this square is not ranked higher is that it is an extremely busy transportation hub as well as traffic-laden with private autos. Negotiating the area is somewhat dangerous because of this. There are several important attractions here, including the Royal Palace, and the National Monument.
Weinachtmarkt, Basel, Switzerland* — This narrow square is home to Basel’s Public Market. The area is basically a widened city street so it is not conducive to relaxing or stopping for long, although browsing through the vendor stalls is highly recommended.
Taksim Square, Istanbul, Turkey* — This square is a major tranportation hub in the Beyoglu section of the city. It is also a popular location for events that attract large crowds. It is also at one end of the Istiklal Caddesi, the major pedestrian-only shopping street in this area.
Pioneer Square, Seattle, Washington, USA* — The oldest part of Seattle, marked by this square which features a totem pole, recalling the Native Americans who inhabited the area, was once a center of activity. Now it is more of a curiosity since the tourists have moved toward the wharf area.
* All these locations are included in my walking tours of each city. Check them out by clicking on “Walking Tour Store.”.