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August 7, 2014

Street artists add character to Madrid's center

Entertainers create a fun atmosphere in a historical setting in Madrid.

By Elizabeth Jones

MADRID- On average, you can find 10 or more characters, artists and musicians milling around the Puerta del Sol entertaining tourists and locals with their numerous talents and displays.

The Puerta del Sol, also known as the “Sun Gate” or of the Sun,” is the original site of the city’s eastern gate in the 15th century. Construction of the plaza began in the 16th century but it didn’t hold the same importance until the Casa de Correos was built THERE in 1768. It went through a renovation process between 1854 and 1860 where it took on its current form. The Casa de Correos , originally part of the post office, now functions as the headquarters of the President of Madrid’s Autonomous Community. The building is gathered around each year to watch the clock tower strike midnight for New Year’s Eve. Directly in front of the building is a plaque marking Kilometer Zero. This is the starting point for Spain’s six national roads. On the eastern side of the square sits a statue of El Oso y El Madroño, “the bear and the strawberry tree.” This is the official symbol of the city. The Puerta del Sol is just a six minute walk from the Plaza Mayor.

Unlike Sol, The Plaza Mayor has fewer characters but is teeming with artists right inside the passageways surrounding the plaza.

The Plaza Mayor is the main square in Madrid, Spain. Juan del Gómez, an architect, lead construction of the square during the 17th century, the Baroque Period. It was completed in 1620 under the reign of Felipe III, whose statue remains in the center of the square. In 1853 a new architect, Juan de Villanova, connected the four walls. Throughout history the plaza has held multiple functions: bullfights, processions, festivals, theatre performances, inquisition trials, and public executions. The torture chambers from the Franco regime, a dictator from the 1930s to 1970s, still remain beneath the square. Today the square is teeming with tourists and street performers. The passageways surrounding the square are full of shops, bars and restaurants.

 

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