Spanish version

Puerta del Sol

Puerta del SolThe Puerta del Sol (Door to the Sun) is right in the center of Madrid and is also the kilometric center of the country.

The Calle de Alcala crosses the square and than changes its name to Calle Mayor. The Calle Mayor and Arenal take you to the Royal Palace.

The square is built like an open fan.

It was built during the reign of Carlos I (Charles I of Spain and V of Germany) in the XVI Century. It was the entrance gate to the capital and therefore a gate to the thoseStatue of Carlos III who were going to Alcala de Henares or Guadalajara. Soon it became a meeting point for all those travellers. Ten streets radiate out from this square. If you go up Calle Preciados you will get to the shopping area. Going up Carrera de San Jeronimo you will find many restaurants and tapas bars and soon be in the Clock at the Puerta del Solarea of the Plaza de Santa Ana. From Calle Mayor, to the left, is the Plaza Mayor. Calle Arenal, now a pedestrian street, is full of shops and interesting little places and leads you to the Plaza de Isabel II. So it is easy to understand why this area is so popular as it takes you to many interesting places in a few minutes.

It leaves the way clear from the Royal Palace to the Church of the Jeronimos, as this church was used for all royal events.

On one side of the Puerta del Sol we can see an equestrian statue of Carlos III. It is a bronze copy of a work by Juan Pascual de Mena made by Miguel Angel Rodriguez and Eduardo Zancada. The original is in the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. The inscription written around the pedestal tells the story of Carlos III.

Behind the statue of Carlos III there is another one dedicated to the symbol of Madrid, the bear and the madroño. The madroño is also known as a strawberry tree. This statue was made byAntonio Navarro Santafe in 1967.

The Bear and the Madroño, symbols of MadridThe widowed Marquis de Pontejos was Madrid´s mayor for two years. In this time he established the point zero (kmKm Zero 0) in the Puerta del Sol. This is the point from which all streets and highways start (related to their numbering). The numbering of the houses in the street start in relation to their proximity to this point. The exact point can be seen in front of the building housing the offices of the Community of Madrid. This building has become famous all overSpain thanks to the big clock on the top that strikes the last twelve seconds of the year. In the Puerta del Sol hundreds of people from all over Spain (andthe world) gather to welcome the New Year eating twelve grapes, one with each chime. They are supposed to represent each month of the New Year. If you eat them all before the last strike you will be lucky. This image has been broadcast in many countries. This custom seems to have its origins in 1909, when the farmers had a surplus of grapes and did not know what to do with it. It has become a custom that is followed in all Spanish homes and provides that night with a special funny moment.

Right next to the building of the Community used to be a church that was eventually pulled down to build houses. ThesePuerta del Sol were made during the reign of Isabel II by the winner of the national lottery, Santiago Alonso Cordero, known as Maragato. The lottery seems to have been quite complicated, i.e. to win it, there were different combinations and it was almost impossible to have them all. But Santiago Alonso got them. When he won the prize there was not enough money to pay him, so they gave him the block next to the Puerta del Sol and the rest of the prize was paid in annual instalments. The buildings he made imitated the ILions on the facade of the Community Buildingtalian style and he influenced all the buildings made afterwards.

On several buildings of the time of King Carlos III we can see lions on the facade representing the power of royalty. On the building of the Community we can see these lions above the entrance. There is also an image of Hercules.

If we look at the street sign of the Puerta del Sol we can see the image of a fountain with a statue in the middle. This is the Mariblanca, currently in the Casa de laVilla.

This fountain was originally in the Puerta del Sol. Afterwards, as the square grew, this fountain was considered too small for its surroundings. The statue was put in the Paseo de Recoletos (part of the Paseo de la Castellana), but it was broken and therefore taken to the Casa de la Villa (Town Hall), where it can be seen now.

Have a look at the Puerta del Sol

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