Outdoor adventurers and travelers who journey to Madrid, Spain, can visit the city's most central square, Puerta del Sol. The name means "Door of the Sun," which it received when a picture of the sun was painted on the gate that once protected Madrid's eastern border.
The site of the Puerta del Sol was actually that of Madrid's eastern gate in the 15th century. As the city expanded over time, the eastern edge of the city became the center. The area was renovated between 1854 and 1860 and was converted into a town square.
A distinguishing feature of the Puerta del Sol is a statue of King Carlos III on horseback. A large red brick building called Real Casa de Correos, which formerly served as Madrid's post office, is now the headquarters of the president of the Autonomous Community of Madrid. A 20-ton statue of a bear eating fruit from a tree also graces the square.
In addition to its historical significance, the Puerta del Sol also is the central point of Spain's highway system. A plaque on the pavement in front of Real Casa de Correos reads "Kilometer 0" and is the point from where all highway distances are measured.
Despite being referred to as a square, Puerta del Sol is actually semi-circular in shape.
The clock at the top of the Real Casa de Correos is toasted by Spaniards on New Year's Eve. Much like Times Square in New York City, the square is jammed with celebrants who come to usher in the new year.
Article Written By Chris Joseph
Chris Joseph writes for newspapers and online publications, covering business, technology, health, fitness and sports. He holds a Bachelor of Science in marketing from York College of Pennsylvania.