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Puerta del Sol Toledo

Puerta del Sol Toledo

The Sun Gate of Toledo (Puerta del Sol) was built by the Knights Hospitaller between the 13th and 14th centuries, although it is said that the original gate may date back to the Taifa Kingdom of the 11th century. Today, though the gate itself no longer remains, the impressive Moorish architecture that defines the Sun Gate of Toledo illuminates what is a popular monument in the city.

Puerta del Sol Toledo History

The city of Toledo was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986 because of its extensive monumental and cultural heritage. Forming a part of this heritage is the Puerta del Sol Toledo, one of many gates which surround the city, which was built in the late 13th and early 14th centuries by Catholic military order the Knights Hospitaller.

Puerta del Sol Toledo is built in a traditional Mudejar style that was commonplace during Spain’s Moorish era. The gateway is rectangular with a semi-circular top, and the arch entry is horseshoe shaped and is flanked by two towers. The medallion above the gate’s arch depicts Toledo’s patron saint Ildephonsus being ordained whilst placing his cassock under the sun and moon.

The gate is named because of Ildephonsus as well as its Eastern orientation, towards where the sun rises. A sun and a moon were also once painted on either side of the medallion.

Fascinatingly, there are the remains of a Paleochristian sarcophagus from the 4th century in the middle of the blind arches.

Puerta del Sol Toledo Today

Though the entrance is still there, the gate no longer remains. Visitors today can enjoy the detailed architecture and historic heritage of the gate alongside other famous monuments within the city.

Most notably, Toledo is known for the masterpieces by El Greco which are both riddled throughout the city and exhibited in the El Greco Museum. Being such a short drive from Madrid, the city is well worth a visit.

Getting to Puerta del Sol Toledo

The beautiful and historic city of Toledo is a 45 minute drive from Madrid, primarily along the A-42. Within the city itself, the gate is a 7 minute walk from the centre, and can also be reached in about the same time by car.

Visiting the gate is always free of charge.


Puerta del Sol

The Puerta del Sol (English: "Gate of the Sun") is a public square in Madrid, one of the best known and busiest places in the city. This is the centre (Km 0) of the radial network of Spanish roads. The square also contains the famous clock whose bells mark the traditional eating of the Twelve Grapes and the beginning of a new year. The New Year's celebration has been broadcast live since 31 December 1962 on major radio and television networks including Antena 3 and RTVE.


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La Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain

This is Madrid's most famous and most central square, located just a short walk from the Plaza Mayor. Originally it was the site of one of the city's gates, which faced the east and was adorned with an image of the sun, hence the square's name.

The square is actually almost semi-circular in shape and owes its current form to the major renovation work carried out between 1854 and 1860.

If you look to the "flat" south side of the semi circle you will see a clock tower, part of a building known as the "Real Casa de Correos". This was originally built in the 18th century as part of the Post Office, and now functions as the headquarters of the President of Madrid's Autonomous Community.

The clock is the famous clock all Spaniards turn their eyes to on New Year's Eve, guzzling down a grape to each of it's twelve chimes at midnight. Millions watch on TV and what sometimes seems like millions more brave the cold here in the square. If you're here on New Year's Eve this is a marvellous experience (see our information on Christmas & New Year in Madrid).

Since this is Madrid's most central location, it is an excellent area in which to stay and there are many hotels, hostals (smaller, often family-run hotels) and tourist apartments nearby. The following link will show you only those properties within 1 or 2km of the square .

If you want to stay right in the square itself, check out Apartamentos en Sol, some self-catering apartments whose address is Puerta del Sol 3.

Outside the Casa de Correos is a stone slab on the pavement marking Kilometre Zero - the official starting point for Spain's 6 National Roads. The photo below shows the original stone (first placed here in 1950) in its deteriorated state, but in September 2009 it was replaced with a shiny bright new one.

Directly opposite this building is where until recently (and since 1984) we would expect to see the most important of the 3 statues to be seen in the square, "El Oso y El Madroño" (the Bear and the Strawberry Tree). However, on 25th September 2009, this statue was returned to its original location at the East side of the square, below the famous "Tío Pepe" advert. This was the statue's location when it was placed here in 1967, so it has simply returned home.

The Oso & Madroño is the official symbol of the city although with an unclear origin - it seems that there used to be many bears in the fields around Madrid although the original symbol was supposed to be a female bear (osa). And the strawberry tree seems to be have actually been a hackberry tree (almez), which was once in abundance around Madrid.

Whatever the real history, this bronze statue is the work of the sculptor Antonio Navarro Santa Fe.

The other statues to be found in this square are a reproduction of the Mariblanca statue (the original is in the Municipal Museum) which is believed to be Venus or Diana the Hunter and which marks the spot where previously a fountain stood, and a statue of King Carlos III (placed here by popular demand, since he was called the "Mayor of Madrid" due to the improvements he ordered made to the city).

This is a vibrant part of the city - full of bars, restaurants and shops. Leading off the Puerta del Sol are several streets, amongst which we can name Arenal Street, Calle de Alcalá, Calle Mayor, and Calle Preciados, this last one a pedestrianised street on which large department stores such as El Corte Inglés and FNAC are located, together with international clothes shops such as Zara, H & M, Bershka and many more.

Many old and historic shops selling traditional goods may be found close to this historic square.

Smaller boutique type shops for shoes, clothes and other accessories can be found on the nearby Calle del Arenal, Calle Carretas and other surrounding streets.


Puerta del Sol - Toledo

La Puerta del Sol es uno de los momumentos más conocidos de Toledo, fácil y cómoda de visitar.
Fue construida en estilo mudéjar en el Siglo XIV por los caballeros hospitalarios, aunque parece ser que su origen pudiera ser árabe e, incluso romano.

En la Puerta del Sol coinciden varias leyendas típicas de Toledo: La Casulla de San Ildefonso (reflejada en el medallón que hay sobre la puerta) y otra que podríamos llamar la del Callejón de los Niños Hermosos porque así se llama todavía la calle donde vivían los protagonistas.

Sobre el año 1220 gobernaba Toledo el alcalde Fernando Gonzalo, un personaje corrupto que aterrorizaba a la población y la sometía con grandes impuestos, además se dedicaba a deshonrar y violar a toda mujer que se le antojaba. En lo que hoy es el Callejón de los Niños Hermosos vivía una joven y hermosa viuda, madre de dos niños de gran belleza. El alcalde se fijó en la joven viuda y, para conseguir sus favores, secuestró a sus dos hermosos hijos.

Pero en aquellos días el rey Fernando III el Santo estaba en Toledo y como era costumbre, en la plaza de Zocodover se instaló el trono para que el Rey atendiese las peticiones de la población. Nadie se atrevió a decir a denunciar nada del Alcalde por temor a las represalias. salvo la joven madre que se arrojó a los pies del Rey pidiendo justicia, el Alcalde intentó impedírselo pero Fernando III ordenó a la mujer que contase su relato. Ésta refirió el secuestro de sus hijos y cómo el Alcalde tenía atemorizada a la población. Ante su valentía, numerosos toledanos comenzaron a acusar a Fernando Gonzalo, que intento escapar pero fue detenido y ejecutado por un verdugo allí mismo por orden del Rey.

Narra la leyenda que tras serle devueltos los niños a la mujer, Fernando III ordenó esculpir en la Puerta del Sol un relieve representando las cabezas de los dos niños para que nadie olvidara jamás esta historia, y todos fuesen conscientes de que su Rey siempre defendería las causas de los más justos, y no de los villanos. Según otra versión se trata de dos mujeres sosteniendo una bandeja en la que hay una cabeza cortada.

Pero esta parte de la leyenda es falsa, puesto que lo que hay incrustado en la Puerta del Sol son los restos de un sarcófago de los primeros tiempos del cristianismo.
Y si nos fijamos bien, no se ven ni cabezas de niños ni cabezas cortadas, porque en realidad se trata de una representación de la negación de San Pedro.

En todo caso, merece la pena visitar la Puerta del Sol, antigua Puerta de la Herrería.
El nombre de Puerta del Sol procede de un Sol y una Luna pintados sobre el friso con la escena de la entrega de la Casulla de San Ildefonso. Pero esta es otra bonita leyenda tambien relacionada con la Catedral de Toledo y que merece su espacio aparte.


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Puerta Bisagra Nueva (Bisagra Gate)

Originally called Bab al-Saqra, the gate was built by the Moors in the 10th century. Rebuilt in 1559, it served as the city’s main gate and adopted the name Puerta de Bisagara Nueva. Two mammoth circular towers stand at the outer gate and two commanding towers at the inner gate make for an imposing and impressive introduction to the city.

It was totally rebuilt during the reigns of Carlos V and Felipe II, following the designs of Alonso de Covarrubias. It is made up of two bodies, between which is placed a "plaza de armas" (main square).

The enormous exterior body is composed of a stone triumphal arch crowned by a huge imperial coat of arms of the city, with its unmistakeable two-headed eagle flanked by two large stone semicircular towers showing the figures of the seated monarchs, a symbol of the good government shown by the medieval coat of arms.

The interior body is composed of a rounded arch flanked by square towers crowned with ceramic steeples, the imperial coat of arms of Carlos V appearing on one of them, the others being chequered.

The monumental and not defensive nature is made patently clear by the investment in towers placed almost flush with the floor and rocks in relief crowning the towers.


Puerta de Toledo

The Puerta de Toledo is located at Glorieta de la Puerta de Toledo in the southwest of Madrid. This free-standing gate is 19 metres high and is comprised of three archways. The central arch is the tallest. It has a rounded semicircular arch and was the main gateway on the road towards the city of Toledo in past centuries. It is flanked by two smaller square lintelled gateways that have ornamental columns on either side.

It is a flamboyant structure made of granite that was started in 1812 under the Napoleonic government of Joseph Bonaparte. Construction was halted following the demise of the Napoleonic government, but re-started again under the rule of Fernando VII, successor to Joseph Bonaparte. It was finally completed in 1827. The present structure underwent major renovation in 1995.

The Puerta de Toledo does not follow the original Napoleonic design. Once Fernando VII gained the throne, Antonio López Aguado was commissioned to come up with a new design. He also chose to have it built in the new materials of granite and Colmenar stone.

The south-facing side of the gate, which looks towards Toledo, has a group of sculptures sitting on top of the central arch. They were created by Ramón Barba and Valeriano Salvatierra, and they represent the power in medieval times of the Spanish monarchy in both the northern and southern hemispheres.

On the north-facing side of the gate the emblem of the City of Madrid is held up by two angels. Each of the two arches on either side of the central arch is also adorned with sculptures. These are representations of various military victories of the era.

The present structure is not the only Puerta de Toledo that has stood in Madrid. The first one stood close by the Hospital de La Latina. It was demolished during the 16th century while Felipe II was on the throne so that it could be re-built at Calle de la Sierpe, a short distance to the north of the present site.

The Puerta de Toledo is the most recently built of all the monumental gates in Madrid. If you visit the antique and crafts dominated Puerta de Toledo Market to the east of the gate, want to see the nearby Rastro Flea Market, or if you go to the Vincente Calderon Stadium to watch Atletico Madrid play football, you will almost certainly pass by the prominent landmark that is Puerta de Toledo.

To get to Puerta de Toledo you can take the Metro on line 5, getting off at Puerta de Toledo station. Alternatively, you can take a bus numbers 3, N3, 60, 17, 18, 23, 35 and 148 will all take you there.

Since this square has its own Metro station, the area has excellent communications and is a good place to stay. There are several good, cheap accommodation options around this area:-


Puerta Nueva de Bisagra: (left) external side (notice the double-headed eagle of the Habsburgs also on the tiles of the towers, similar to Porta Nuova at Palermo) (right) town side

You enter Toledo by the gate of Visagra, and ascend a very steep and difficult eminence, through several narrow, crooked, and ill-disposed streets, and after considerable difficulty alight at the inn. Laborde
Read Philip's inscription, (..) which records how he restored the "inscriptionibus antiquis restitutis Divos urbis patronos" and destroyed Moorish impieties. Ford
In 1561 King Philip II decided that Spain should have a permanent capital at Madrid, north-east of Toledo, at the time a very minor town. He completed however the construction of a new grand gate in the old capital which had begun in the 1540s.


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