Puerta del Sol, Madrid
The "Puerta del Sol" is one of the busiest squares in Madrid. The name comes from a former 15th century city gate that was decorated with a symbolic sun. According to ancient tradition, Madrilenes gather around the clocktower of Puerta del Sol on New Year`s Eve and eat a grape at each toll of the 12 p.m., which is supposed to bring good luck for the new year.
Other features of the Puerta del Sol is the statue of "Oso y el Madroño" ("the bear and the strawberry tree", after a spanish folk tale), the monument of King Charles III. and the 0 km-marker for the six main trans-spanish roads that start here.
also plaza del sol, the epicenter of Madrid,and must be there when in the city. The km zero of Spain, the stores, restos, all around it are all leyendary, plenty here in VT but if need details let me know, lived four years there,visit every year,and have family living there:
its a must to be while in Madrid and at night the area is tops.
This lovely square is the heart of the city. It's so centrally located that this could be your starting point to any location in Madrid. The statue of the bear and the strawberry tree is the symbol of Madrid and a popular meeting point. You will enjoy the dynamic nature of this square at any time during day or night. The square is always crowded with people and if you like people watching, this could be the perfect spot.
I enjoyed watching (and covertly photographing) the numerous 'street artists' who wandered Plaza Puerta del Sol.
I'm used to seeing the odd 'statue' or the odd historically-relevant character ('gladiators' around the forums in Rome, Vikings in York). But I've never been anywhere with such a large number of 'street artists' and such a variety.
Mickey and Minnie Mouse? Was in I in Disneyworld??
Spongebob Squarepants (x 2). Huh?
Charlie Chaplin? What's he got to do with Madrid?? And why the moving tree?
Smurfs? Aren't they from Belgium? Perhaps they were on holiday....
The silver man was accompanied by a very large cross...he was having a sneaky cigarette when I noticed him, chatting with the gold man, so I've no idea whether he got up onto his cross, or whether he just posed carrying it. Very odd.
I found the chattering animal heads attached to flowing fabric covering their operators strangely disturbing; no idea why.
If you want your photo taken with them you'll have to pay. Or you can be sneaky like me, and take photos from afar. Your choice. :-)
The first place we visited was the Puerta del Sol in the evening. We returned a couple of times during our stay. This square is always crowded and has plenty going on. People in costumes pose for photos, there are buskers, celebrating students, excited children and just generally lots of activity. We had a look at the famous bear and strawberry tree statue which is the symbol of Madrid. On New Year's Eve apparently crowds stand around the clocktower on the Real Casa de Correos and eat a grape on each chime of midnight for good luck in the coming year. There are streets thronged with shops, cafes, restaurants, bars leading off this square in every direction. Metro station - Sol.
This is indeed the heart of Madrid. Everyone comes here to ring in the new year for example. I wanted to see the last of the Tio Pepe signs, but it had gone :(
Certainly a happening place, and most places in Madrid radiate out from here.
Huge Metro interchange
This is often called the Time Square of Madrid. Tons and Tons of people hang out here at all times of the day. This is where your gonna find the guy who eats a sword or the statue guy. This place is surrounded by souvenir shops and bars and stores of all kind. Want to find some free entertainment then come here and you'll find it. Come here at night and there's a buzz in the crowd. A must see sight of Madrid, and don't forget to take a photo of the "Tio Pepe" sign that's been there since the early 1900's !!!!
Puerta del Sol was the first place that I headed to after checking into my hotel.
I arrived by Metro, and the first thing that I saw on walking up the metro steps was the famous Tio Pepe advertising board
It was Saturday afternoon, and the place was buzzing with locals and tourists. As it was a month to Christmas, workmen were busy installing the Christmas lights and decorations. In front of me was a large Christmas tree.
The Puerta del Sol was one of the gates into the city - its most eastern point. As the city expanded, it is now considered the centre of Madrid city.
Around the square and on the many streets that lead off Sol like bicycle spokes, are many bars, restaurants and shops.
In the square were post card and souvenir stands, street artists, buskers, hawkers, locals queueing for lotto tickets, and a few beggars.
Probably one of the best times to visit this square is New Years Eve, when the citizens of Madrid pack tightly into the square, facing the clock above the Casa de Correos. It is tradition that a grape is eaten on each of the 12 chimes at midnight to bring good luck for the following Year. The celebrations are televised nationwide.
I passed through Sol a few times during my weekend break, and it was always busy both day and night. It never felt threatening though - I felt quite safe.
Part of the square is hidden by hoardings, this is where a new rail line and station are being constructed- it's work has been delayed due to unearthing archaeological sites.
UPDATE - my last visit was July/Aujust 09, a week after the new station opened.
This was probably the most I had in Spain, just roaming the streets of the Puerta Del Sol district. It is where all the action of Madrid is.
There are lots of local specialty shops and a big El Corte Ingles, so you won't have any shortage of shopping, or tapas.
As Sue and I continued our walk in Madrid, having no idea of what we were really looking for but just taking in the sights, we noticed that the number of pedestrians was getting larger and larger. As usual, we don't do any planning when we visit a city so had no idea that this Monday, January 5th was actually a public holiday to celebrate the 'Three Kings', and things were starting to heat up!
I never found out until after returning to Canada that Christmas celebrations in Spain start much later than those in English-speaking countries and also continue onward a bit longer. Instead of Santa Claus stealing the whole show, in Spanish-speaking countries, the focus is more on the Baby Jesus as well as his parents and the Three Kings (Wise Men). Rather than Dec. 25th being the big day for gifts, the custom in Spain is to hold a Three Kings procession on January 5th and the children finally get the majority of their goodies on the Feast of Epiphany held the next day, January 6th. I had been wondering why the Christmas theme was hanging on for so long during our trip!
One of the main features of the Procession of the Three Kings is the showering of the crowds with gifts of sweets as they pass by. If we had stayed around a bit longer we too could have grabbed some of the 7,000 kilograms of sweets that were to be tossed from thirty passing carriages, according to the plans!
In the Sol area, near Plaza Mayor, we watched as preparations of a large stage and speakers were underway and thousands of citizens were getting into position for 'the big show' soon to come.
This bronze statue is the official symbol of the city. On September 2009 this statue was returned to its original location at the East side of square (this was location when it was placed here in 1967, so it has returned home). The symbol is interesting and it seems that there used to be many bears around Madrid. And strawberry tree seems to be have actually been a hack berry tree which was once in abundance around Madrid.
This is the most central square just a short walk from the Plaza Mayor. Long time ago it was one of the city's gates. The square is actually almost semi circular in shape and owes its current form to the major renovation between 1854 and 1860. Because it central location this is good area to stay, and there are many hotels, hostels, restaurants....On the square you will see building known as the Real Casa de Correos with famouse clock. The clock is the famous because all Spanish turn eyes to on New Years Eve, guzzling down a grape to each of its twelve chimes at midnight.
Puerta del Sol is probably the most central square in Madrid. On this site used to be one of the city’s gates which was decorated with the image of the Sun. One of the city’s most famous landmarks is on this square – the Bear and the Tree statue (El Oso y El Madrono) which is the symbol of Madrid. On one side of the square is the Real Casa de Correos which was built during the 18th century.
From Rafaelhoteles Atocha, VT members Santi (Redang) took us for a walk to Puerta del Sol. It was a nice walk. We passed the Atocha station, Centro Reina Sofia National Museum, Caixa Forum Madrid Cultural Centre, Botanical Garden, and Prado Museum. Before we got to Sol we decided to have a Tapas lunch, then we continued on.
When we arrived the first thing I saw of Puerta del Sol was the statue of Carlos III, the hustle and bustle, the commuters running toward Sol metro station, the Japanese tourist following the tour director carrying a flag, red roofless tourist bus, the blind busker with Labrador dog, police patrolling on foot. It was a busy sight. The ambiences were definitely electrifying.
We are now standing in the heart of Madrid historic square of Puerta del Sol. It is the starting point for us as tourist to take photos of the bustling activities. In Sol you will find many great shops, restaurant, café, hotels, and the twenty ton statue Bear eating strawberry fruit (Madrono), Kilometre Zero. You will see the old 18th century Post Office with the clock tower. I’ve heard from the grapevine at New Year the Madrid people consume 12 grapes for 12 wishes whilst listening to the countdown from the clock bell. They have to consume one grape per second, luckily for the Madrilènes it’s not orange they have to consume.
The Royal Palace, Plaza Mayor and Royal Theatre are close walking distance from Puerta del Sol square.
In May 2nd and 3rd 1808 the famous uprising against the French happened in the square when Madrid’s people fought against Napoleon soldiers and many died. Today protesters are still using the square to rallies and protests against violence and war.
This attractive statue in bronze and concrete of a bear and madrona (strawberry )tree was installed in 1967. It is the badge or symbol of the city, and it weighs 20 tons!
I was a bit confused about a strawberry tree -as far as I was aware, strawberries grew on plants. I now realise that Medrona or Arbutus is a species of tree, whose fruit slightly resembles a strawberry!
Look out for this coat of arms on manhole covers, taxi cabs etc around the city.
Another popular place for a rendezvous, or watching people taking photos of each other posing against the statue.