Essential: the kilometer zero
Famous for: the popular custom of grapes for New Year Eve
In three words: traditional, iconic, famous
This is the district where the famous Puerta del Sol is and has been during the centuries of all the most important events in the history of Spain. Today it is one of the most popular and touristic areas, with its beautiful Royal Palace, also the center of the radial roads of Spain. It is a great location for apartments in Madrid- within walking distance of the heart of the capital.
HISTORY: Sol occupies part of the area known as "El Madrid de los Austrias", named after the Habsburgs, responsible for most building constructed during their reign between XVI-XVII centuries. La Casa de Correos, in Plaza del Sol, is the current seat of the Presidency of the Community of Madrid. It is located opposite to the famous kilometer zero point, crossed by the radial streets of Spain and known for a legend. It is said that anyone who passes from there is bound to return to Madrid. Another old tradition is to celebrate the New Year’ Eve on the square, where at midnight you have to eat 12 grapes punctuated by the tolling of the clock tower. It seems that the custom dates back to 1896, when it began as an ironic act towards the upper classes who had the habit of having grapes for dinner. Just ten minutes from Puerta del Sol, you reach Plaza de Oriente, where the Palacio Real is. Until 1931 it was the residence of the royal family of Spain.
ATMOSPHERE: Sol area is always really crowded, as it is the focal point of many touristi groups. There are many sights to see, especially the famous palaces and squares, symbols of the Spanish capital. Furthermore it is a great shopping area. It is the perfect place for those who really want to feel the pulse of the vibrating city.
PLACES: The famous Plaza del Sol, with the bear statue and the door, which starts a street network. which is like the shopping center of the city. Not far away you find Plaza de Villa and Plaza Mayor, a bullfighting arena now famous for offering free concerts and a special market of numismatics and philately. The Market of San Miguel is the only example of an iron market in Spain, renovated with the idea of setting up a Centre of Culinary Culture.
Moving to the Opera area there is the Palacio Real, now used as a setting for institutional events: it is the largest royal palace in Western Europe with more than 135 thousand square meters. It is a heritage of respect that depicts masterpieces from Caravaggio, Velázquez, Rubens and Goya. Around the building there are the Moro Gardens and the Sabatini Gardens, named by the Italian architect who also designed Puerta de Alcalá and Plaza Mayor.
Plaza de Oriente hosts the royal theatre of Madrid, one of the largest in Europe. In front of Plaza de la Armería is the Cathedral, the Catedral de Santa María La Real de La Almudena, a neoclassical building with Gothic interior.
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