Puerta del Sol, Madrid
Where Madrileños (people from Madrid), celebrate every 31 of December, the arrival of the New Year.
The second pic shows the building that hosts the Government of the Comunidad de Madrid. The last one. El Oso y El Madroño, of course.
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 !!!!
If one day you decide to measure the length of all the roads in Spain you'll have to start at Puerta Del Sol, in front of the Old Post Office building. There you'll find the Kilometro Cero - Kilometer Zero.
There's still a question I keep asking myself: If Puerta Del Sol dates back to the 15th Century, does it mean that there were no roads before? Probably not. However until nowadays Kilometro Cero is known as the center of the Spanish roads network.
Puerta del Sol is one of the most important of Madrid's squares. It is the place where young people meet; where people stop off to go to the Plaza Mayor and old Madrid; a place to shop in department and smaller stores. There you will find the equestrian statue of King Felipe III at it's center, the king who ordered the square's construction in 1617. Five hundred years ago it was just another city gate with an image of the sun drawn on it, hence its name. Nowadays, the square is famous for being the center of the national road network. The semi-elliptic square in the centre of Madrid's city-centre is also in a way the centre of Spain as it is the point from where distances are measured on the country's roads. It is a crossroads and starting point for many of the major roads such as Alcalá, Mayor, Arenal and Carrera de San Jerónimo. It witnessed many of the major events in the history of Spain such as the Communards rebellion in 1520 or the famous people's uprising against the French on 2nd May 1808. It is also where the people of Madrid go to celebrate the Nochevieja (31st December). Thousands of revelers gather in the square once a year to await the chimes of the clock that officially announces the New Year
The Puerta del Sol is one of the busiest Plazas in the centre of Madrid. It is a good starting point to explore the city. At the Puerta del Sol is the Bear Statue, the Kilometre Zero Marker and the Casa de Correos building. The area around Puerto del Sol is crowded with bars, cafes, shops and stores.
This sculpture represents a bear eating the fruits of an arbutus; it is the symbol of Madrid, and even the name of the city comes from the name of the plant in Spanish ("madroño"). It is situated at Puerta del Sol, the main square of Madrid.
Esta estatua representa a un oso comiendo los frutos de un madroño; es el símbolo de Madrid, e incluso el nombre de la ciudad viene del nombre del arbusto. Está ubicado en la Puerta del Sol, la plaza principal de Madrid.
Puerta del Sol isn’t beautiful as Plaza Mayor but it’s occupied by people day and night! This is the “point zero” of spanish road network. What you can see here except the large ugly Tio Pepe sign are:
-the statue of Carlos III riding a horse
-the big clock on the red building, it’s the clock where many locals gather on new years eve. The custom says that they count down the last 12 seconds while eating 12 grapes!
-the historical Post Office of the city that was built in 1766 and housed the Franco’s ministry of Interior and Security. Now, it houses the offices of government of Madrid Community. In front of the building is the sign of “zero point”
-the statue of the bear reaching for strawberries from a madrono tree, a symbol of Madrid because once Madrid had a lot of bears and madrono trees.
From here you go and enjoy the nightlife at the nearby pubs or do shopping during the day. El Cort Inglés department store is right there but also two pedestrian streets that will satisfy your wife’s desire for clothes and empty your wallet :) I noticed many street artists at these streets. The area is also full of budget hotels and hostels. Some of them are nice, some others are…oh my god :)
This paving slad located outside the Casa de Correos marks the point from whick all the roads radiating out from Madrid are measured. It could be said to be the center of Spain.
I must admit I was a little disappointed at how small and insignificant it was, if it had not been pointed out to me I'm sure I would have missed it. It was also badly in need of renovation, over the years its been worn away by the feet of many tourists as myself.
Carlos III ( Charles III ) King of Spain 1759-1788. The statue was only erected in 1992, to honour him for the improvements he made in the city. For this reason earlier Madrilenos called him the Mayor of the city. The history of his life is written on the white plinth of the statue.
The Old Post house, its now become the offices of Madrid's Council. It was built in 1768 with it's tower with four sided clock. The clock (and the plaza below) have become the centre point of Madrid's New Year celebrations, if your here for New Year this is the place to be at midnight.
Peuerta del Sol ( Sun gate ) was once the location of one of the cities gate in its fortified walls.
A statue you will see in the Plaza is a replica of "La Mariblanca'' White Venus, the original is now in the Municipal Museum.
While personally I consider Plaza Mayor to be the centre of Madrid, many would insist that Puerta del Sol holds that title. Regardless, Puerta del Sol is definitely a focal point in Madrid where many grand avenues intersect. Day or night, the semi-circular plaza is busy with traffic and people. The most distinguishing feature of Puerta del Sol is the large Tío Pepe sign, an advertisement for a local brand of sherry, which illuminates the plaza by night.
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.
In Puerto del Sol is the wonderful bronze evocation of the symbol of Madrid.
The bear reaches for the fruit of the madrono. Although it is large and stands on a plinth it can be missed in the hustle and bustle of this lively square.
It is at the corner of the Calle del Carmen.
Do as many do - give his heel a friendly rub as you pass by.
The Puerta del Sol is the geographical center of Spain. In this square is the "zero kilometer" marker from which distances in Spain are measured. The building with the red trim and tower is "Casa de Correos" which is the governor's office and was the first Madrid post office established by Charles III in 1760. It also served as Franco's police headquarters. What a welcome change! Above the building is the famous clock tower where Spaniards celebrate New Year's Eve. In Spain a person eats one grape to countdown each of the twelve chimes. Directly opposite the building is the most important statue in the square that of the "Bear and the Strawberry Tree" (his back is to you in the middle foreground of the photo. This is the symbol of the city of Madrid. The tree is not a strawberry tree but a Madrono which has red berries. Bears used to live in the royal hunting grounds just out of Madrid.
The large statue in the square is of course Charles III who is credited with so much of Madrid's beauty and appeal.
Sorry this is not a better picture, but I somehow missed getting the whole square.
Although Puerta del Sol could be literally translated as "Sun's Gate", you should not expect to find there a gate of any kind, but an enormous square that is the neuralgic (and official) center of Madrid. Its origins could be traced to the reign of Carlos I (XVI century), who built an entry gate to the city sited on this place. In one of the arches of the gate, there was a painted Sun, and hence the name!
Indeed, Sol area posses some kind of "centric" quality inside: it is not only the place where the Spanish road network officially starts, but also the meeting point for the New Year celebrations in Madrid.