Gate of the Sun - PHOTOGRAPHER COMMENT
This place is situated in the heart of the city of Madrid.
Gate of the Sun - FURTHER INFORMATION
Gate of the Sun - Madrid visitor guide showing a virtual tour of 'Gate of the Sun' linked to an interactive map with local and travel information. 360° panoramas from Madrid.
The Puerta del Sol (Gate of the Sun) is one of the most well known and busiest places in Madrid. This is the centre (Km 0) of the radial network of Spanish roads. A popular attraction, the square also contains the famous clock whose bells mark the traditional eating of the Twelve Grapes and the beginning of a new year. It is a focus for the New Year celbrations, which have been broadcast live on TV since 31 December 1962.
The Puerta del Sol was one of the gates in the city wall that surrounded Madrid in the 15th century. Outside the wall, medieval suburbs began to grow around the Christian Wall of the 12th century. The name of the gate came from the rising sun which decorated the entry, since the gate was oriented to the east.
Between the 17th and 19th centuries, the area was an important meeting place for couriers coming from abroad and other parts of Spain to the Post Office, and those eager for the latest news. The stairs to the Saint Philip church at the square were known as the Gradas de San Felipe, and were among the most prolific 'mentideros de la Corte' (lie-spreaders of the Court).
The House of the Post Office was built by French Architect Jacques Marquet between 1766 and 1768. The building was the headquarters of the Ministry of Interior and State Security during the Francisco Franco dictatorship. It is currently the seat of the Presidency of the Madrid Community.
The Puerta del Sol contains a number of well known sights associated both domestically and internationally with Spain:
- Old Post Office - on the south side, serves as the office of the President of Madrid, the head of the regional government of the Autonomous Community of Madrid (not to be confused with the Madrid City Council, which is housed elsewhere).
- Equestrian Statue of Charles III of Spain - nicknamed 'el rey alcalde' (the king mayor) due to the extensive public works programme he set in motion.
- Tio Pepe Sign - lighted sign above the square's eastern building between the Calle de Alcalá and the Carrera de San Jerónimo.
- Bear and Madrone Tree Statue - the heraldic symbol of Madrid, the bear and a madrone tree (madroño) statue stands on the northern side of Puerto del Sol.
- Mariblanca (Venus) - marks the place of a former fountain with the square.
- Kilómetro Cero - plaque on the ground directly north of the Post Office serving as the symbolic centre of Spain.
Puerta del Sol - Modern DayIn addition to signalling the basis of numbering in the Spanish road system, the symbolic nature of the plaza ensures that it is the site of many rallies and protests, particularly against violence and war. Sol has seen protests against the terrorism perpetrated by ETA, the March 11th attacks on commuter trains, and Spain's involvement in the Iraq War
The metro station under the square opened on June 27, 2009, four years behind schedule. This was in part due to the discovery of the remains of the Church of Our Lady of Good Success during the excavation of the main chamber.
Sol square is very busy, connecting several commercial and recreational areas. It is full of shops and department stores like the El Corte Inglés department store in Preciados Street, La Mallorquina cafe, and numerous, ever-changing restaurants.
Also around Sol are many night clubs and dance venues, many of which only open at 1am and remain open well into the morning. Street music is also common in the area. Side streets close to the square also contain residential flats, some small offices, and tourist hostels.
Puerta del sol - 28013 - Madrid
TRAVEL DIRECTIONS AND GETTING THERE
Metro: Sol (1, 2, 3)
Train: Sol (C2, C3)