The plazas of Madrid are important in the lives of the people that live in the city. Many times celebrations are held in them and they provide a meeting area for bringing the people together.

Even though they would normally would be a square, they can actually be any shape such as rectangular, round or even oval.



Puerto del Sol (Sun Gate)

This is the center of Madrid’s historic district and is one of the busiest sections of the city. Ten different streets provide entry to this square. The plaza’s name originates from the eastern city gate which was located here in the 15th century. The gate was probably named Puerto del Sol or “Sun Gate” after a sun which was drawn on it.

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What an easy way to see which street you're on in Madrid!

We stayed at a hotel in this area on the Calle del Principe and found it to be very convenient as a starting point for our time in Madrid.

Statue of King Felipe III

Statue of King Felipe III

Near the center of the square is a large equestrian statue of King Carlos III. The King looks out to a beautiful 18th century red brick building which was former main post office, El Oso y El Madroño, Puerta del Sol.

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Casa de Correos

The Casa de Correos (General Post Office) dates back to 1768 and now houses the regional government instead of the post office. It is here that on New Year’s Eve, hoards of people traditionally gather to listen to the chiming of the clock while trying to consume a dozen grapes, one on each strike of midnight, before a fireworks display is set off.

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Kilometer Zero Madrid

In front of this building (Casa de Correos) is a paved slab which marks Spain’s Kilometre Zero, the place from where all distances in Spain are calibrated.

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Bear and Tree

The Puerta del Sol is also the location of the 20 ton statue of a bear eating fruit from a tree and which is the symbol of Madrid.

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A familiar landmark in Puerto del Sol during the day.

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The same landmark at night



Plaza de Santa Ana (St. Anna’s Square)

At one time, Santa Ana monastery was located in this area but was destroyed in the early 1800′s.

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Calderon de la Barca

In the center of the square is a statue of Calderon de la Barca who was a dramatist. On the east end of the plaza is the Teatro Espanol which was built there in 1849 after the first theater, which was open-air, burned down.

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Enjoying outdoor dining in the plaza

This is a great area to sit and watch people and enjoy tapas from one of the tapas bars which borders the square.



Plaza Mayor (Main Plaza)

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Plaza Mayor

The official name of this square is Plaza de la Constitución and was was first built as a market square in the 15th century. Later it was referred to as the Plaza del Arrabel (Square outside the Walls).

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Plaza Mayor

After this it was remodeled under Felipe II’s command to become the Court’s administrative center. The first part was completed in 1590. The frescoes that can be seen today on the building’s facade were added in 1992. The rest of the square was finished by architect Juan Gómez de la Mora in 1619 under Felipe III.

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Plaza Mayor

An equestrian statue of Felipe II which was done in bronze by Juan de Bolonia and Pietro is located in the center of this area.

In addition to be an area for festivities, it was also an area for executions. Spectators were able to stand on the balconies around the square to observe hangings which took place here until the end of the 18th century.

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View from Plaza Mayor

In the 1960′s the plaza was opened to visitors who were able to gain entry to the site through nine separate archways.



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