Puerta del Sol – The Heart of Spain

by Peter Mason

If you’re traveling to Madrid for the first time, don’t miss the opportunity to see Puerta del Sol-the Heart of Spain, and also one of the most popular tourist sites in Madrid. The name, Puerta del Sol, means “Gate of the Sun” in Spanish. At the center of Puerta del Sol, you will find yourself amidst six different main highways, each having a little bit more of Spain to offer you, should you decide to take that route.

Tourists are not at a loss for attractions in this historical medieval town, which was once surrounded by a protective wall. It was well worth leaving my benidorm apartment to see. In the 15th century, the gates here were also the gates that led to Madrid, the gate where visitors and traders from all over the world entered this city. Some were just tourists and others were important politicians.

One of the first attractions everyone writes home about is the large sculpture of a bear eating some fruit from a madrone tree. An interesting note is that the Spanish word for this tree is where the word “Madrid” originated. This particular bear is also an important symbol for the natives of Madrid. Anyone that has a keen interest in architecture will love to see the Regina Hotel on Alcala Street.

A major tourist attraction is the House of the Post Office which, built in 1768, holds a lot of importance to Madrid. It’s been the perfect New Year Holiday spot for many that have watched the giant clocks with faces, which are on each tower side. Many of the locals celebrate the New Year by this clock. There is a lot of history behind this clock, and for 40 years, you could hear the clock chiming as the townsfolk celebrate the annual festival for eating the Twelve Grapes. Those that couldn’t be there can watch it as it’s broadcast live.

Other highlights here are the Mariblanca statue of Venus, which is a replica of the real statue in the Municipal Museum or check out the Charles III statue. Charles III was known and loved by the Madrid locals for all his great work. If you’re interested in politics and politicians, you may get to witness a political debate or protest as Puerta is often the spot for many political doings such as this.

If you choose to spend the perfect holiday in Madrid, you will have many fine restaurants and shops to fill your day. The restaurants can offer you your choice of cuisine for your holiday meal away from home. Don’t forget your nightlife because Madrid surely won’t with their many bars that are open until the wee hours of the morning offering you food, drinks and street music. You’re not very far from the Royal Palace (Palacio Real) or the Parliament, so who says your sightseeing needs to stop here?

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