Puerta del Sol (Gate of the Sun), Madrid

Puerta del Sol (Gate of the Sun), Madrid (must see)

One of the city's most popular gathering spots, the Gate of the Sun is alive with constant chatter and a lively atmosphere. This square marks the historic location of the original eastern entrance to the city, where a gatehouse and castle once stood. Over time, these structures disappeared, giving way to a series of churches. In the late 19th century, the area was transformed into a square, becoming the vibrant center of café culture.

Today, the square takes the shape of a half-moon, with a modern glass train station facing the statue of Carlos III. On the southern side, an austere red-brick building houses the regional government, while the buildings opposite form a semicircle and house contemporary shops and cafés. Originally serving as the city's post office, the regional government building was constructed during the reign of Carlos III in the 1760s. In 1847, it became the headquarters of the Ministry of the Interior, and the distinctive clocktower was added in 1866. Notably, during the Franco regime, the police cells beneath the building were infamous for human rights abuses.

The Gate of the Sun itself has witnessed significant historical events. On May 2, 1808, the uprising against the French occupation began here, although the rebellion was ultimately crushed. In 1912, liberal prime minister José Canalejas was assassinated in the square, and in 1931, the proclamation of the Second Republic took place from the balcony of the Ministry of the Interior.

Today, the square continues to be a focal point for festive celebrations, bringing together locals and visitors alike. On New Year's Eve, at the stroke of midnight, the square is filled with people eating grapes, a tradition believed to bring good luck for the coming year.

Tips:
Beneath the square lies Madrid's hub of public transportation. The underground Metro lines 1, 2, and 3 conveniently serve the area, providing easy connections to the city's commuter rail system and the major train stations at Chamartín and Atocha.
Surrounding the square, the side streets are predominantly residential, offering a vibrant nightlife and an array of entertainment options. Street music is a common sight here, adding to the lively atmosphere. Many bars and clubs in the area don't open their doors until after midnight, ensuring a vibrant and late-night social scene.

****FOOD WALK****
While at the Gate of the Sun, you can have a chance to eat like a true Madrileño in the number of family-run restaurants, authentic taverns and tapas bars abounding the area. Known to the locals for decades, these eateries are quite close by yet remarkably away from the trodden tourist paths. One such hidden gem is called La Mallorquina (8:30am–9pm daily), renowned for its pastries, particularly the "roscón de reyes" (special ring-shaped cake for King's Day) and the "napolitanas" (cream slices), which you can savor in the upstairs salon overlooking the square.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Madrid. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Puerta del Sol (Gate of the Sun) on Map

Sight Name: Puerta del Sol (Gate of the Sun)
Sight Location: Madrid, Spain (See walking tours in Madrid)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Madrid, Spain

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km or 1.6 Miles

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