La Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain

This is Madrid's most famous and most central square, located just a short walk from the Plaza Mayor. Originally it was the site of one of the city's gates, which faced the east and was adorned with an image of the sun, hence the square's name.

The square is actually almost semi-circular in shape and owes its current form to the major renovation work carried out between 1854 and 1860.

If you look to the "flat" south side of the semi circle you will see a clock tower, part of a building known as the "Real Casa de Correos". This was originally built in the 18th century as part of the Post Office, and now functions as the headquarters of the President of Madrid's Autonomous Community.

The "casa de Correos" in Puerta del Sol

The clock is the famous clock all Spaniards turn their eyes to on New Year's Eve, guzzling down a grape to each of it's twelve chimes at midnight. Millions watch on TV and what sometimes seems like millions more brave the cold here in the square. If you're here on New Year's Eve this is a marvellous experience (see our information on Christmas & New Year in Madrid).

Hotels Near the Puerta del Sol, Madrid

Since this is Madrid's most central location, it is an excellent area in which to stay and there are many hotels, hostals (smaller, often family-run hotels) and tourist apartments nearby. The following link will show you only those properties within 1 or 2km of the square ...

If you want to stay right in the square itself, check out Apartamentos en Sol, some self-catering apartments whose address is Puerta del Sol 3.

Outside the Casa de Correos is a stone slab on the pavement marking Kilometre Zero - the official starting point for Spain's 6 National Roads. The photo below shows the original stone (first placed here in 1950) in its deteriorated state, but in September 2009 it was replaced with a shiny bright new one.

Kilometre 0, Puerta del Sol

Madrid's Oso & Madroño statueDirectly opposite this building is where until recently (and since 1984) we would expect to see the most important of the 3 statues to be seen in the square, "El Oso y El Madroño" (the Bear and the Strawberry Tree). However, on 25th September 2009, this statue was returned to its original location at the East side of the square, below the famous "Tío Pepe" advert. This was the statue's location when it was placed here in 1967, so it has simply returned home.

The Oso & Madroño is the official symbol of the city although with an unclear origin - it seems that there used to be many bears in the fields around Madrid although the original symbol was supposed to be a female bear (osa). And the strawberry tree seems to be have actually been a hackberry tree (almez), which was once in abundance around Madrid.

Whatever the real history, this bronze statue is the work of the sculptor Antonio Navarro Santa Fe.

The other statues to be found in this square are a reproduction of the Mariblanca statue (the original is in the Municipal Museum) which is believed to be Venus or Diana the Hunter and which marks the spot where previously a fountain stood, and a statue of King Carlos III (placed here by popular demand, since he was called the "Mayor of Madrid" due to the improvements he ordered made to the city).

Click here to see the Puerta del Sol on our tourist map

This is a vibrant part of the city - full of bars, restaurants and shops. Leading off the Puerta del Sol are several streets, amongst which we can name Arenal Street, Calle de Alcalá, Calle Mayor, and Calle Preciados, this last one a pedestrianised street on which large department stores such as El Corte Inglés and FNAC are located, together with international clothes shops such as Zara, H & M, Bershka and many more.

Many old and historic shops selling traditional goods may be found close to this historic square.

Smaller boutique type shops for shoes, clothes and other accessories can be found on the nearby Calle del Arenal, Calle Carretas and other surrounding streets.