by Erin Elaine
Plaza Mayor, or Platha Mayor as the Madrileños pronounce it…
This plaza looked quite different for hundreds of years until 1790 when the buildings as they exist now were built. There are 237 balconies facing the plaza. In the middle is a statue of King Phillip III from 1616. Locals gather here on summer nights in large numbers to drink, eat, and be merry.
Puerta del Sol, or “Gate of the Sun” originated as an east-facing gate to the city of Madrid back in the 15th century. Nowadays, it is not only considered the center of Madrid, but also the center of Spain. Many of the city’s streets extend outward from here like rays of the sun. In the square is a monument to King Charles III, as well as a statue of a bear eating from a madroño tree, a symbol of Madrid.