Puerta del Sol (meaning Sun Gate) is most famous central square of Madrid, and is considered the center of Spain.
The square has a semicircular shape. The most prominent building is the Real Casa de Correos (Royal Post Office) with its famous clock tower, built in the 18th century. There are also several monuments such as the Bear and Strawberry tree (symbol of Madrid), the equestrian statue of King Charles III (nicknamed the Mayor-King) and The kilómetro cero, a plaque on the ground directly north of the Post Office serving as the symbolic center of Spain.
Today the Royal Post Office building houses the regional council of Madrid Autonomous Community. Its clock tower gets featured on TV each new year’s eve as it rings 12 times for the traditional grape eating.
The Puerta del Sol originated as one of the gates in the city wall that surrounded Madrid in the 15th century. Outside the wall, medieval suburbs began to grow around the Christian Wall of the 12th century. The name of the gate came from the rising sun which decorated the entry, since the gate was oriented to the east.
Between the 17th and 19th centuries, the area was an important meeting place: as the goal for the couriers coming from abroad and other parts of Spain to the Post Office, it was visited by those eager for the latest news. The stairs to the Saint Philip church at the square were known as the Gradas de San Felipe.
Puerta del Sol got its current look in the renovations made in the 19th century.
Under Puerta del Sol there is also a major transportation hub serving metro lines L1, L2 & L3 and Cercanías (local trains).