Why? Because it's where you can find the 'zero kilometer' mark, where all roads leading to all of Spain originates.
(Standing on Kilometer Zero)
Puerta del Sol, or the Gate of the Sun, sits in the middle of Madrid. It's a popular square where, since the 15th century, people have gathered. The square is oriented towards the east; hence, the name.
Now, in the 21st century, it has even become more popular, gathering performers, international tourists, vendors and perhaps, a few pickpockets, right in front of the Spanish Post Office building, and right under the nose of Tio Pepe, a famous brand of Spanish sherry.
(An equestrian statue of King Carlos III
in the square)
(A young Spanish student doing a 'challenge' by proposing
before Minnie Mouse)
Walking from Plaza Mayor, I ended up in Puerta del Sol just following the trail of jamon shops, cafes and stores selling abanicos and spanish tartas.
I actually asked for directions at the Madrid tourism kiosk inside Plaza Mayor for a place to buy stamps for my postcards, and the señoritas told me to go to El Corte Inglés, the Spanish chain of department stores. Well, I finally found the small office selling stamps at the basement of the department store, but, sadly, until now, the postcards I sent home from Madrid never came.
And going to El Corte Inglés from Plaza Mayor, one has to pass through Puerta del Sol, and watching the street performers and interesting statues at the square was just an added bonus on my way to the department store.
One important thing to always remember though was to make sure your wallet or bag was safely tucked in front of you. It was always good to secure your things than to lose them while being distracted with all the interesting things around you, especially in crowded places like this square.
(Un hombre creating some bubbles
(Street performers 'defying' gravity)
I was able to pass through Puerta del Sol a few times more during my days in Madrid. It has a subway station 'Sol', which brought me to the beautiful Atocha Station on my way to Alcala de Henares.
And if it's interesting during the day, at night, it also features Spanish b-boys doing breakdancing right in the middle of the square, also attracting crowds and tourists.
So, if you just got into Madrid from a long flight somewhere, it's always good to have some sun to counter the jet lag. And where to get some sun?
At Puerta del Sol.