Puerta del Sol is one of the most famous meeting points in Madrid, especially at night. The square has an elliptical shape and has gained its current aspect toward the half of the 19th century.
Puerta del Solwhich was the gate of the ancient wall belt protecting Madrid in the XV century, has always represented the access door to enter the city. Its construction dates back to the reign of Carlo I. Placed between calle Alcalàand Carrera de San Jerònimo. the square is oriented toward east, this is why the image of a sun was put on the entrance gate, from where comes the name “Puerta del Sol“.
Here lie two of the most representative symbols of Madrid.
One is thebronze statue of a female bear climbing up a strawberry treewhich was placed in 1967. The same image of the bear appears on the shield of Madrid .For many it represents the plentiness ofboth bears and strawberryrees in the city surroundings. For others it is just a representation of the earth fertility (the tree) and Madrid aristocracy (the bear).
The other important monument in the square is the bronze statue of Charles III on horseback.
The square is surrounded by beautiful buildings, even though the most important is Casa de Correos (literally the post office) which is the current headquarter of the Presidency of the Madrid Autonomous community. The building, once the seat of the first post office in Madrid, has a clock on its façade, which strikes the hour every year on 31st December.
Tradition has it in Spain that during parties to celebrate the new year, people must eat a grape–stone for each chime of the clock. If one makes it to eat all the 12 grape-stones corresponding to the 12 clock chimes, the upcoming year will be a lucky one.
Opposite the clock tower, built in 1866, stands the so called “Kilometro cero” the centre of Spain, and the exact point from where all Spanish roads depart and all distances within the country are measured.
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