Friday, 17 March 2017

Puerta del Sol (Sun Gate), Madrid

It's not a large public square, but it's the arguably the most important square in Madrid for locals, and for that reason, it's a good place to visit to get a glimpse into the local culture and tradition.


Real Casa de Correos, Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain
Real Casa de Correos

Real Casa de Correos (or the Royal House of Post-Office) is the main edifice that you'll see in the square. Today, it's the office of the President of Community of Madrid.

So what makes this plaza so special? For one thing, this square isn't just considered the centre of Madrid, it's therefore the centre of Spain. D'uh! Well, there's a little bit more than that...

Real Casa de Correos, Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain
Dunno if the square is always so busy or because it was around the festive season.

In front of Real Casa de Correos is a plaque that is called kilómetro cero (Zero Kilometre, also "0 km"). It's not hard to find. Just walk to the main entrance of the building and you'll see people pointing their cameras at the ground (which isn't the typical camera angle). I dunno why i didn't take a photo of it. It's a mystery to me. This is one reason why i still haven't got bored with myself because there's much about me that i don't know and want to find out as much as the world out there. I'm a mystery wrapped in a enigmatic outfit inside a riddled diseased body. Ok, that's enough about nothing about me.

This "0 km" is the symbolic centre of Spain, and marks the physical centre of the Spanish road network. This is what i meant by the centre of Spain. A number of capital cities in the world have such plaques. E.g. there's one such "zero kilometre" plaque in Tinanmen Square in Beijing.


Clock Tower, Real Casa de Correos, Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain Clock Tower, Real Casa de Correos, Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain


Another importance of this square is the clock. No, there's nothing special physically about this clock. But on New Year's Eve, locals would gather here waiting for the clock to strike 12, and stuffing their mouths with 12 grapes with each striking of the bell for good luck for the rest of the year.

We left Madrid just 2 days before New Year's Eve. So didn't get to see the grapes stuffing spectacles. Of course, you can do so at the comfort of home as the whole event is broadcast live on TV.

Despite its name - Puerta del Sol, or Gate of the Sun - there's actually no gate. Trust me, i looked high and low. Unless it's a few inches tall, i had to say i couldn't find it.

No, there's no gate. But it still has a few things to look at. Another thing that supposed to be here, but no longer here is The Fountain of Hapies. Instead, it has been replaced by a modern fountain.

Fountain and statue of Charles III, Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain
Fountain with statue of Charles III behind it

While the original fountain is no longer there, but you can still have an idea what it looks like on the tiled street sign in Puerta del Sol.

Tiled street sign, Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain
Street sign showing the historical fountain.  Pretty impressive fountain (if it's still around)



Pigeons on fountain, Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain
"Look! A bird having a bath at the fountain !"
"Oh...a pigeon! I thought you said a 'bird'..."


Pigeons on fountain, Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain






statue of Charles III, Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain
King Charles III on a horsie, holding a scroll in his right hand (not a sword).
Often described as an enlightened despot (a few other come to mind).


Another iconic statue in this square is statue of the Bear and the Strawberry Tree, which is in the coat of arms of Madrid city. This is actually a modern work that was installed here in 1967.

Sculpture, The Bear and the Strawberry Tree, Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain



Another statue that's at the opposite side of the square is the statue of Roman goddess La Mariblanca. Take note of the coat of arms (with the Bear and The Strawberry Tree) at the bottom of the photo.

Statue, La Mariblanca, Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain
Madrid's city coat of arms on the pedestal


Some well known advertisement is closely associates with a site, like the Coca-Cola sign in Times Square in NYC. Or in the case of Puerta del Sol, the Tio Pepe billboard. You could say Tio Pepe to the Spanish is what Coca-Cola is to American.

Billboard of Tio Pepe and statue of Charles III, Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain


Toruist police car, Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain
Tourist cop car that tells you the main countries of origins of the tourists:
Italian, Japanese, German, Chinese, Arabic, and Russian.
The order is probably sorted by the relative size of the tourists' countries of origins.
Nice stats !!!


Lottery kiosk, Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain
It's almost new year,
and so let's get lucky...
go buy some lottery...
from here to eternity !

Lottery stand, Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain
Why not buy it here,
with queue all empty ?
You'll get it quickly...
no need to line up like bees !


Metro entrance, Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain
The iconic peanut (or bowling pin) shaped metro entrance.


The square is family friendly. Here are some street artists.

Street artist, Pooh Bear, Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain
Peeka-pooh !!!    Now i c u !


Street artist, Pooh Bear and Micky Mouse, Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain
Coming up / out for air...

Street artist, Child's Play, Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain
Girls really love their dolls...Smile, and say "Chucky!"
Is child labour illegal here? Wait. it's Child's Play (1988)
I hope the knife isn't rusty. It can lead to nasty infection.
Street artist, Pikachu, Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain
Peeka-chu!  I'm right behind you !
Eeeeew! Lucky! He's not Chucky !



Shoe shine, Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain
Catching up on world events and stock prices between shoe shine...
Thought bubble:  "Apple's up $8 today! Better eat less... Should i sell all 5000 of my Apple's shares today ?"

Speaking of apples, if you're a little hungry and hankering for some snack, or simply have a weakness for croquette, you can head to Casa Labra. It's a restaurant tucked behind Puerta del Sol. Expect long queue. At least when we were there.

We bought a fish croquette. It was a little disappointing. The filling is quite creamy, and there wasn't so much fish, just fish paste or prawn puree. We prefer pieces of fish fillets. But if you don't mind that, you can give it a try. There're other stuffs too.

Casa Labra restaurant, Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain
Casa Labra with long queue




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