Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol
and Plaza San Miguel, Plaza Canalejas, Plaza de la Villa, Calle de Alcalá, Calle Mayor

Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol are the 2 most important squares of Madrid, together with Plaza de España. Both are situated a few blocks south of Gran Via. This page also some streets and squares around them.
Click here to go directly to Puerta del Sol.

Plaza Mayor:

Plaza Mayor is foremost a tourist attraction, a historic square with similar looking red palaces that create a wall around a square. Only gates connect the square with the surrounding blocks. Plaza Mayor was completed in 1619. After a fire in 1791 Juan de Villaneuva (Prado's architect) redesigned the square and added the granite vaults. Historically, Plaza Mayor has been a market, an open air theatre, a bullfigting arena, excecution place and a stage for games. Today expensive open air restaurants and arcades with rare shops can be found at the square. Plaza Mayor is bordering the picturesque La Latina area.

Plaza Mayor is a bit like a relaxed resort, in contrast to the busy Puerta del Sol.

6 different passages leads from the larger streets to Plaza Mayor.

On Plaza Mayor you find people acting, among others, human statues, a headless man (picture), a fat spiderman, a 3 headed monsters, a human dog and a living
transformer ambulance!

People strolling on Plaza Mayor.

"The shadow of the horse".

A statue of King Felipe III on his horse. Casa de la Carniceria is behind the statue. Originally a meat market besides an execution place for criminals.

Plaza Mayor panorama.

Expensive open-air restaurants and humans pretending to be dogs are typical for Plaza Mayor!

The vaulted gate to Calle Mayor.

Casa de la Carniceria, a horse statue and policemen on real horses.

There are arcades with rare shops around the square.

Some examples of the special shops around Plaza Mayor; a Madrid souvenirs store, a fairtrade toy store and a christian store.

Plaza de Puerta del Sol:

Puerta del Sol means "Gate to the Sun" and is the most famous square in Madrid. The name comes from the gate to the city that was located here in the 15th century, but the current square was created in the 19th century. It is the most lively square in Madrid and a natural meeting place, the
heart of Madrid's nighlife. The square itself is not very special, but it is crowded every day, from Monday to Sunday, 24 hours a day! The local authorities main office and the bear statue that has become a symbol of Madrid are located here, as well as a large branch of El Corte Inglés department store,
beautiful fountains and fastfood chains. The police is very present here, and it is not unusual to see demonstrations!

Many important histocial events have been taking place here; In 1808 one of Napoleon's soldiers were shot, leading to a massacre!

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Puerta del Sol has beautiful fountains decorated with flowers, a popular place to just sit and relax. The police is visible everywere on Puerta del Sol.
Casa de Correos (left) on the south side of the square is a posthouse from the 1700s that now is the seat for the local authorities. During the Franco regime political
dissidents were imprisoned in Casa de Correos. On the pavement in front of this building is the "km 0 mark", marking the center of the Spanish road network.

Puerta del Sol.

Calle de Caretas just next to Casa de Correos.

Calle Mayor seen from Puerta del Sol.

Diverse people on "the sun square".

A human pretending to be a Star Wars character (right at the fountain).

The statue of King Carlos III was placed here as late as in 1997.

The futuristic glass entrance to the metro.


Sol metro with an ugly scaffolding behind the bear statue. Can you spot the 2 police cars?

The Puerta del Sol sign. Every street and plaza in the city center has a symbol on its sign, a very nice idea that you don't see in many cities!

El Orso y El Madroño (The Bear and the Strawberry Tree). This is not only a famous statue on Puerta del Sol, it is also, the symbol of Madrid. It is visible on everything from T-shirts to drains. It weighs 20 ton. The female bear symbolizes "the fertile soil of Madrid" and the tree "the aristocracy".

The bear statue again.

Police buses guarding a demonstration!

This demonstration, one of 3 I saw during my week in Madrid!

Calle del Carmen towards Sol.


Would have been a very nice overview of Sol, if it wasn't for the white bus!


Plaza de San Miguel:

Mercado San Miguel is close to Plaza Mayor.

Mercado San Miguel is a very popular market hall inside an old building with a modern glass exterior.

Calle Mayor:

Calle Mayor is a street with magnificent buildings. A part of it is leading between Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol.

The blue building is a hostel.

One of Madrid's many meat stores/restaurants called Museo de Jarmon (museum of meat).

Calle Mayor.


Plaza Canalejas:

Plaza Canalejas is a beautiful round square near P. del Sol and Calle Alcalá.

Plaza Canalejas towards Plaza del Callao.

Plaza Canalejas.

Calle de Alcalá:

Calla de Alcalá is the longest street in Madrid, starting at Puerta del Sol, passing Plaza de Cibeles (in the end of this photo), Alcala Gate and ends
near the Las Ventas arena in the eastern outskirts.

Calle de Alcalá is a mayor road leading from Puerta del Sol to the end of Gran Via, near Plaza Cibeles. Many magnificent buildings line the street.

Petit Palace Alcala Torre, a beautiful art deco tower. The church is Iglesia de las Calatravas.

The local buses of Madrid changed color from red to light blue just recently.

Casino de Madrid. A luxorious mens club, so it is not an actual casino.

The Casino.

Banco Español de Credito, or Banco Banesto, is one of Alcalá's magnificent beaux-arts facades. It was built in 1891.

BBVA Sede Social, an art deco/art moderne building from 1923.

Teatro Alcazar, a 7-storey theater on Alcalá.

Calla de Alcalá is the longest street in Madrid, starting at Puerta del Sol, passing Plaza de Cibeles (in the end of this photo), Alcala Gate and ends near the Las Ventas
arena in the eastern outskirts. Círculo de Bella Artes is the tower building and Ministerio de Educacion is to the right.

Círculo de Bella Artes, an art deco university tower from 1926 on Calle Alcalá.

Consejería de las Artes de la Comunidad de Madrid.

Calle Alcalá.

Edifico Metrópolis (read more about this famous landmark in the Gran Via section).

Calle Alcalá near Plaza Cibeles.

Banco de España, The National Bank of Spain. Spain's golden reserves are preserved underneath Plaza de Cibeles (to the left). An art collection with famous paintings
by Goya and other artists is also inside the building, but to be able to see it you must write a personal letter to the bank first.


Towards Plaza Cibeles, Alcala Gate and Torre de Valencia. The local buses of Madrid changed color from red to light blue just recently.

The same places by night:

Plaza Mayor by sunset.

There are more people on Plaza Mayor in the evening then in the day.

Sol at sunset.

Puerta del Sol is an even more lively place by night.

This is the always busy -24 hours a day, 7 days a week- Calle de Preciados, leading from Sol to Plaza del Callao.
El Corte Inglés (left) has a large branch on Puerta del Sol.

The nice supermarket in the basement of the Sol branch of El Corte Inglés.

El Corte Inglés at Puerta del Sol has a whole department dedicated to Star Wars stuff!


Plaza de la Villa:

Plaza de la Villa (Town Square) is a small picturesque square next to Calle Mayor, just a few blocks west of the more famous Puerta del Sol. Many old
beautiful buildings are at the square. Plaza de la Villa reminds of Toledo, an old city near Madrid that I also visited.

The beautiful Plaza de la Villa with the old Town House to the right. The statue is Admiral Alvaro de Bazan, who plan to invade England.

Casa de la Villa, The Old Town Hall. It was town hall until Palacio de Communicaciones took over in 2007. It has served as both town hall and prizon.

Torre de los Lujanes. The oldest building on the square, built in the 15th century i Mujedar style.

A beautiful church at Calle Mayor.

Calle Alcalá:

Calle de Alcalá.

The Casino, actually a men's club.

Entrance of the casino.

Calle Mayor.