Welcome to Madrid
This bustling square located bang in the centre of Madrid is one of the city’s most famous sites. With its semi-circular shape, it is a junction for many of the city’s historical and busiest streets such as Mayor, Arenal, Alcalá and Preciados, as well as the starting point for all major radial roads in Spain.
Originally the site of one of the city’s gates, Puerta del Sol should be at the top of your list of places to visit. Sitting atop the Casa de Correos building, the current headquarters of the Madrid regional government, you’ll find the famous clock that all eyes turn to on the last day of the year. For over a century now tradition has it that people across the country usher in the New Year by eating 12 lucky grapes to the twelve chimes of midnight struck by this clock.
A stone slab on the pavement in front of the main entrance to the Casa de Correos marks Spain’s Kilometre 0, the starting point for all major radial roads in Spain. Across the square, at the beginning of Calle Alcalá, Madrid’s longest street, you’ll find the famous Oso y Madroño. The official symbol of the city, the statue of a bear nuzzling a strawberry tree is a popular meeting spot for Madrileños.
On the other side of the square, at the start of Calle Arenal which leads to the Teatro Real opera house, stands a copy of La Mariblanca statue. The original, which dates back to the 17th century and once adorned a fountain in this very spot, is now stored in Casa de la Villa. Puerta del Sol’s third and largest statue is found in the centre of the square and depicts King Charles III of Spain on horseback. During his reign, the monarch introduced so many progressive reforms and gave the city such a makeover that he earned the moniker Madrid’s best mayor.