Spain is calling you.
Madrid in particular.
There’s no reason why you wouldn’t want to explore this thriving city, boasting some of the country’s best nightlife and a stellar international community.
The added bonus?
Puerta del Sol.
This plaza at the heart of it all is home to numerous landmarks and historical events, as well as some pretty interesting stories.
Read on to discover the history behind la Puerta, and how you can enjoy what is has to offer in true Spanish style.
Captivating History at Puerta del Sol
This plaza is the centerpiece of Madrid, Spain.
Literally meaning “gate of the sun”, its name couldn’t be more accurate. The plaza began to come together in the 16th century, and legend has it the name comes from a real gate which used to stand there.
The gate was decorated with an icon of the sun, and thus the name was born. In modern times, it still holds true. The sun here shines incessantly down on the plaza, filling it with life and bustling energy.
Puerta del Sol has always been held in high regard by locals but gained even more popularity with the construction of the post office in 1768.
On a lighter note, it was also the site where King Fernando VII was crowned in 1812. The mid-1800s saw a rebuilding of the square, and with it, a reemergence of its status as a political and intellectual meeting ground.
Today, the plaza sees little upheaval besides the occasional quarrel over pricing in a shop.
Important Sites Converge at Puerta del Sol
As an international hub of activity, it makes sense that la Puerta del Sol would house some important landmarks. Don’t miss these fascinating gems on your visit.
1. Kilometre Zero
The Kilometre Zero is a stone slab marker set in the ground at the plaza. It doesn’t look like much, but don’t let that fool you.
Though this unassuming little rock is humble in appearances, it represents something massive.
It is the starting point from which distances are measured in Spain, the geographic “center” of the country. Not only this, but each of Madrid’s own city streets are measured from Kilometre Zero as well.
You can stand on Kilometre Zero, or bend down to take a selfie with it. Either way, it’s a perfect representation of the importance of Plaza del Sol, Madrid.
2. El Oso y El Madroño
“The Bear and the Strawberry Tree” is a much-loved statue in the plaza offering a patriotic three-dimensional display of the country’s coat of arms: a bear munching on a strawberry tree.
While there are a few wild theories out there pertaining to how this particular image came to represent the country, ABC Madrid has a pretty concrete one.
During the early days, bears regularly roamed the hills outside Madrid. This bear represents a wild grizzly hunted by King Alfonso XI near the capital.
The strawberry tree represents a settlement between clergymen of the city and the townspeople, wherein each left with rightful ownership of surrounding lands.
3. Clock of Puerta Del Sol
The famous clock of Puerta del Sol plays an important role in the lives of the people, and it has an interesting story to boot.
Over a century ago, wristwatches were not a popular personal item. Most people looked toward street clocks to tell them the time, and the people of Madrid were no different.
They looked at their clock in the Plaza del Sol. However, the clock was broken and never displayed the correct time.
After many missed appointments and appeals from the people to do something, the government finally commissioned an official naval watchmaker to create a working timepiece.
It was unveiled in 1866, and ever since then, the people have enjoyed knowing the correct time while strolling through the plaza.
These days the clocktower is beloved by all, especially during the New Year celebrations when it chimes in the upcoming year with relish.
Getting to Puerta del Sol
Puerta del Sol is the epicenter of Madrid, so it won’t be difficult to find.
The streets Carmen, Preciados, and Montera all converge here. The plaza is just a bit south of the Gran Via street. To arrive by metro, just get off at the station Metro Sol.
You can also disembark at Metro Gran Via and take a short walk, enjoying the sights as you meander towards the plaza.
Enjoy the Soul of Madrid at Puerta del Sol
If you are planning a visit to Madrid, it just won’t do to skip Puerta del Sol.
The plaza is beautiful in any season, though mild spring weather brings an undeniable shine to the area that many find irresistible.
Don’t hesitate to savor the history and drink in the atmosphere of Madrid’s most important Plaza.