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Puerta del Sol is at the very heart of Madrid. It is brimming with history – the political, social and urban history of the city is centered on the area. The square has witnessed everything from the city’s first inhabitants to great political disasters. Today, it is a tourist area with a lot to offer. It is the home of classic department stores such as el Corte Inglés, and a metro station that shares its name with the square. There are a lot of bars and cafés close by.
The origins of the Puerta del Sol are not clear, but it seems that it became a landmark in the Middle Ages, when it was the entrance gate to Madrid. Its name dates back to 1520 when the Madrid Council met to organize the rebellion against King Charles I of Spain. They decided to build the fortification with the gate facing the east, where the sun rises. It was therefore called “Puerta del Sol”; the Gate of the Sun.
Its first building was the Iglesia del Buen Succeso (Buen Succeso Church). You can see its remains today, as well as a small plaque dedicated to the church in the entrance of the Sol suburban railway station. Two other buildings that were added to the Puerta del Sol were the San Felipe Convent and the Nuestra Señora de las Victorias Convent.
The famous statue of the Mariblanca was added to the fountain in the Puerta del Sol as an ornament in 1625. It was given its name by the water sellers because the stone used for the sculpture looked so white to them. It thus became a popular image of Madrid and was decorated when celebrations were held in the city. There is now a replica of the statue at the entrance of Calle Arenal.
In 1768 the Real Casa de Correos (Royal Post Office) was built, which is still one of Madrid’s icons today. In the mid-1800s the square started to become more sophisticated. A new bakery with a Parisian touch opened and it was an instant success with the affluent upper classes. The Casa Cordero was built on top of the ruins of the San Felipe Convent. Passageways and bazaars of a similar style to the ones in Paris were opened. At the same time, the company “Diligencias Postal Generales” set up in Madrid, which brought new inhabitants to the city. Inns, a prelude to hostels, sprang up around the Puerta del Sol at this point and the amount of people passing through the area increased.
Citizens have used the Puerta del Sol to stage protests since 1759, when the Esquilache Riots took place. The Dos de Mayo Uprising against Napoleon also took place here in 1808. Francisco de Goya immortalized it in his painting The Charge of the Mamelukes at the Puerta del Sol. It witnessed the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic. There was even a so-called “red pavement”, where the supporters of the Republic gathered for meetings and marches. The square suffered as a result of the air raids during the Civil War. On April 1st, 1939 Franco signed the communiqué that declared the war officially over and troops entered Madrid via the Puerta del Sol.
On May 15th, 2011, the Puerta del Sol was the location for protests similar to those taking place all over the world. Thousands of citizens protested in the square to express their rejection of the Spanish political system. Four days later it was vacated at the request of the community.
You can find evidence that the passage of time has left an indelible imprint at the Puerta del Sol, where the walls, cobblestones and ornamental figures will remind you of the violent, interesting and happy moments that the city has undergone. In order to experience them first-hand you can rent one of our apartments close to the Puerta del Sol. Alternatively, you can find luxurious and modern hotels in the area; some are small and family orientated while others are majestic and pompous. Both types come at very high prices. The apartments in the area are just as good in addition to being more reasonably priced. They are also centrally located, spacious, well lit, close to the metro station and bus stops, and have Wi-Fi, air conditioning, a kitchen and a washing machine. Another advantage is the time you will save looking for your accommodation close to the Puerta del Sol – all you have to do is click a button on the website with our catalogue. If you are travelling alone or looking for no-frills accommodation, then a studio is the right choice for you. All of the studios are fully equipped, well connected to other parts of the city and have Wi-Fi connection. You can also find hostels and guesthouses very close to the Puerta del Sol, but they have fixed hours to enter and leave the building that you will need to abide by.
Apart from the numerous little cafés and places where you can enjoy the hot chocolate that Madrid is famous for, there are several well-known places that have become meeting points.
Puerta del Sol is an iconic place in the city of Madrid. If you like to be in the center of the action don’t forget to rent one of our apartments close by. You can visit shops, bars, nightclubs and monuments and will still be close to your base when you stay in one of our apartments.
Adolfo Suárez Airport (Madrid Barajas) is 14 kilometers away from Atocha railway station. Buses depart from the airport 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can take the No.203 bus to Atocha and then Line 1 of the metro to Puerta del Sol. Taxis from Madrid Airport have a fixed priced of €30. You will not be charged extra for your luggage. All of the international car rental companies have counters at the airport, in case you wish to travel further than Madrid during your holidays.