There are two interesting things in this square. First is the statue of a bear, symbol of Madrid, eating fruit from the tree. Second one is the spot on the ground, which shows the middle of Spain. I think we would not have found it without our friend, but just look at the ground. In the end, above all of those stands a statue of king Carlos III.
Fondest memory: To stand in the middle of Spain :)
Spaniards love to eat and unless a meal contains meat, well in my opinion its just not Spanish - oh, you'd better add a healthy dash of garlic, tomotoes and onions too.
The Spanish also love their ham and we discovered the MUSEO del JAMON close to the Sol metro station.
It is a pandoras box of hams and cold meats where everything from a full leg of ham to cold cuts can be bought and taken away. They also have a bar where beer, coffee whatever you want can be drunk on the spot while nibbling on tapas - including their ham. Upstairs is a full service restaurant and what did we choose - PAELLA, which we had trouble finishing as there was so much of the yummy dish. Cost for 2 - about 14 Euro for paella and considerably cheaper than other eateries close by - enjoy.
Favorite thing: The Puerta de Sol is essentially the heart of Madrid. It seems that this is the focal point of all the city's political and social activity. There were political demonstrations going on when I was walking through but I could never get a straight answer on what about. Socially there are lots of shops nearby, especially to the north. There are also many bars in the vicinity. Sadly there are lots of prostitutes just a block south. Perhaps the oddest thing about the Puerta de Sol is how unremarkable it is. There are really no important monuments here and the draw seems to be location and the fact that it is a traffic hub. Even I was drawn as I my hotel was but one block south of the square.
I already mentioned in my tips the buskers and other street perfomers. Here is a local band that played regularly at Peurta Del Sol during the couple of times I visited Madrid.
As I previously mentioned listening to this music makes exploring the Peurta Del Sol much more enjoyable.
In Puerta del sol you can find a sing on the floor (see picture) that said Km O....... it is point from were the roads are mesure on distance.
Great place to arrache to meet!!!!!! you whont loose it
Fondest memory: no matter what time of the day or night it was puerta del Sol has every time people walking around!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The absolutely busy Puerta del Sol area by night.
Be careful if you're coming here at night. There are quite a few pickpockets on the prowl in this area. Just don't put on an 'Alice in Wonderland' look (read: looking lost) and you should be fine.
Go ahead and have fun.
Ladies - the best places to shop in Madrid are along:
- Puerta del Sol
- Gran Via and,
- Salamanca (for luxury products).
Over at Pueta del Sol, you can shop to your heart's content at Spain's largest department store - El Corte Inglés (my favorite shopping haunt). If you come to Madrid during their major sales period (e.g. in October), you'll be in for a big treat!
Gran Via is more touristy. I couldn't find what I was looking for when I was out at Gran Via.
And, Salamanca is where you'd find the posh boutiques of Chanel, Prada, Loewe et al. Good place to borrow your husband's or boyfriend's credit card to go shopping! ;-) The likelihood of bumping into Victoria Beckham or Penelope Cruz here is very high.
And the next morning Madrid proposed me a ride, it said that it won't be long and boring and that I would be able to see what it is famous for.... Oh, well, I couldn't resist...
So we met on Puerta del Sol. It said - this is the place all people come to and go from, this is the hub of all my ways and directions, so let us start here and this will be the place we return to...
Meet whoever you are meeting or hoping to meet ;-) at PUERTA DEL SOL: Also known as Gateway of the Sun, this is the city's most popular meeting place & there is a huge number of tourists & locals here. Although it's a famous 'square', it's shaped like a half moon. Very interesting!
Fondest memory: Checking out books, especially coffee-table books of different countries in a bookstore on PUERTA DEL SOL. Books are much cheaper here than other parts of western europe, but they are so heavy, so I only bought 2 as this is the beginning of my 14 days trip around Spain. So sad... I love those books!
Favorite thing: The real center of Madrid. Is one of the busiest squares of the capital day & night. A lot of souvenir shops, Metro, El Corte Ingles... A usual place to meet and a good place to start a city tour. Panoramic buses stop here too.
Favorite thing: Puerta del Sol and its surroundings in a hot summer day under the burning sunlight.. no shades :(((
Favorite thing: The Tio Pepe sherry sign is an easy reference point for people to find. Underneath the sign is a portion of Hotel Paris, one the the oldest hotels in Madrid.
Favorite thing: One of the New Year's Eve custom is for people to gather around Sol. As the clock strikes midnight, it's customary to eat a grape as the seconds countdown.
Puerta del Sol is the center of Madrid where distances are measured from.
In this picture of Sol along Calle del Carmen, is the symbol of Madrid - a bear reaching up on a strawberry tree.