Just outside the Casa de Correos, tourists can see a stone slab on the pavement, marking the so-called Kilometre Zero: the official starting point for Spain‘s six national roads. The original stone, placed in the plaza in 1950, has been deteriorated over the decades but in September 2009 was replaced with a newer and brighter one which can now be seen in the place.
The famous plaza is also home to the most famous symbol of the Spanish capital: a 20 ton statue of a bear feasting of fruits from a tree. It gets its name from the original name of Madrid: ‘Ursaria’, which means ‘land of the bears’ in Latin. According to the legend, there were high numbers of bears in the adjacent forests, which, together with the strawberry tree, have been the symbol of the city from the medieval era.
Any tourist’s journey in Madrid‘s Puerta del Sol will start with the famous Clock of the Puerta del Sol, simply because it is one of the main protagonists on New Years Eve and other major timing events. Here, on the last night of the year, Spaniards and tourists alike are full of excitement. The story behind the clock of the ‘Gobernación’ is somewhat funny. A few centuries ago, the majority of people used public clocks on the street as a guide, as they lacked personal watches. The problem was that this particular clock did not work properly, so the public administration changed it on many occasions. Eventually, an official watchmaker from the Spanish Navy was requested to create a clock that would finally provide accurate time. He donated the clock to the people of Madrid, which was inaugurated in 1866. Since then, the clock has not stopped providing the exact time to both locals and passers-by.
Apart from the emblematic El Oso y El Madroño, Puerta del Sol’s premises also include a reproduction of the Mariblanca statue, with the original being on display at the Municipal Museum, depicting either Venus or Diana the Hunter, and a statue of the Bourbon King Carlos III. It is believed Mariblanca marks the spot where a fountain previously stood, while the statue of King Carlos III was placed here by popular demand; as a token of Madrid’s appreciation for the improvements he commissioned for the city.
Right next to the Church of San Ginés, tourists can discover this unique venue that serves Chocolate con Churros, a traditional Spanish dish that’s generally eaten for breakfast, consisting of a cup of hot, thick chocolate into which people dip long sticks of fried dough. Located on Pasadizo de San Ginés, this traditional white-marbled bar was established in 1894 and has literally been selling the delicious treats ever since!
Chocolatería San Ginés, Pasadizo de San Ginés 5, Madrid, Spain, +34 91 365 65 46
Madrid is certainly one of the capitals of fashion and shopping in Spain, and Preciados is one of the most important shopping hubs of the Spanish capital. It starts in Puerta del Sol and ends at the Plaza de Santo Domingo. Dubbed the most commercial street in Madrid, Preciados is also home to some uber-expensive real estate and apartments. Although popular for the countless couture and high-street shops, this street is also famous for housing the English Court and other international franchises.
Nobody parties quite like the Spaniards do, so nightclubs in Madrid are an absolute must. Just a short walk from Puerta del Sol, night-owls can find Palacio de Gaviria, an architectural gem of the 19th century that was inspired by the Italian Renaissance. The imposing staircase invites people for a walk in a place that has only become more charming with time, surrounded by magnificent frescoes created by Joaquin de Espalter. For almost two decades, the palace has hosted thousands of events, providing a spot that can become a club, press room, fashion show runway, conference centre and more!
Palacio de Gaviria, Calle del Arenal 9, Madrid, Spain, +34 915 26 60 72
This giant sign dominates one end of the Puerta del Sol plaza. Tio Pepe is a brand of sherry made from the palomino grape. The sign has enjoyed its fair share of changes, but its popularity became more obvious in 2011, when it was taken down as the original building was being refurbished. After a three-year absence, the sign was re-lit at number 11 Puerta del Sol in May 2014. Forty tons lighter than its predecessor, Tio Pepe is a joy for locals and tourists alike, shining over the Madrid skyline as a veritable icon of this central plaza.
Parroquia de Nuestra Señora del Carmen y san Luis obispo is a Catholic church located close to Puerta del Sol, and is one of the most famous and visited churches in the Spanish capital. This church is what remains from the old Monastery of Carmen Calzado. Originally, it was dedicated to San Damaso. The church is a complex building, having been built in the 17th century by the architect Miguel de Soria and sculptor Mateo de Cortray, the creator of the door that opens into the street.