Plaza is a Spanish word related to "field" which describes an open urban public space, such as a city square. All through Spanish America, the plaza mayor of each center of administration held three closely related institutions: the cathedral, the cabildo or administrative center, which might be incorporated in a wing of a governor's palace, and the audiencia or law court. The plaza might be large enough to serve as a military parade ground. At times of crisis or fiesta, it was the space where a large crowd might gather. Like the Italian piazza, the plaza remains a center of community life that is only equalled by the market-place.
A plaza de toros is a bullring.
The first purpose-built shopping center in the United States, opened in Kansas City, Missouri in 1922, knowingly took the name of "Country Club Plaza" and adopted Spanish architectural details. More recently plaza has been used to describe a shopping complex, similar to a shopping mall, borrowing its connotations of a center of cultural life. The name is currently even applied to a single building with some semi-public street-level areas, often with a hotel or office tower above, while mall more often refers to multiple buildings or a street.