Puerta del Sol - Puerta del Sol information and pictures
The 19th century square, Puerta del Sol
or Gate of the Sun, is a bustling plaza located in the heart of Madrid
a short stroll away from the Plaza Mayor
, filled with street musicians, vendors and statues. The Puerta del Sol is actually designed in a semi-circular shape and is a popular starting point for walking tours of this vibrant Castilian city. The Plaza is especially exciting at night when the nearby colorful neon signs such as, the famous Tio Pepe advertisement light up the landscape.
An eastward facing 15th century city gate, once stood at the site of the plaza adorned with a depiction of a rising sun, which became known as the Puerta de Sol and the name was retained. Over the centuries, this site became a popular spot for public demonstrations and still is to this day. Madridians came out in force in 1808 to protest the French occupation of their beloved city.
The Old Post Office (Casa de Correos) and the Clock Tower
- French Architect Jacques Marquet built the distinctive red brick building dominating the plaza, Casa de Correos, to house the city’s post office in 1768. It now serves as the seat of the President of Madrid's Autonomous Community. The building is notable for its famous clock tower that rings twelve chimes before the stroke of midnight every New Year’s eve. The Spanish tradition is to eat a grape for each chime to obtain good fortune for the year ahead.
Imbedded in the pavement in front of the Casa de Correos, is a colorful plaque
known as the kilómetro cero, which marks the junction of Spain’s six national roads and symbolic center. Many tourists make a point of photographing this monument depicting the center of Spain.
The Statues: The Bear and the Strawberry Tree
- There are three notable statues in Puerta del Sol: an equestrian statue of King Carlos III, a reproduction of the Venus statue that graced the former Mariblanca fountain and the famous, El Oso y El Madroño or the Bear and the Strawberry Tree. The so-called “bear” statue is a whimsical 20-ton bronze statue of a bear eating fruits from a strawberry tree. It was constructed in 1967 by sculptor Antonio Navarro Santa Fe.
The Bear statue’s origin dates back to the 13th century when a bear and a Madroño Tree were used as the City’s ancient coat of arms and remains Madrid’s symbol to this day. Bears once populated this area of Spain
when it was known as Ursaria. Today, the Bear and Strawberry Tree statue is used as a popular meeting point.
Where is Puerta del Sol: Plaza de la Puerta del Sol
How to get to Puerta del Sol: By Subway to Sol station; Line 1,2,3
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