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Streets and Squares in Madrid

There's a lot going on in the streets and squares of Madrid. Apart from the frequent parades and festivals, even the everyday life of the Spanish is an interesting phenomenon to observe. Streets like Gran Via, Paseo del Prado, Calle Mayor and Calle de Alcala literally brim with people shopping, sightseeing and chatting in outdoor cafes. Tourists also go to the biggest square in Madrid, situated in the very centre of the city and called Plaza Puerta del Sol, to see the statue of King Carlos III and the heraldic symbol of Madrid, a statue of a bear and Madrono tree. After visiting the numerous museums and art galleries, taking a walk through the city's streets and squares will be a great opportunity to spend some time outdoors and soak in the atmosphere.

Puerta del Sol
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Puerta del Sol, by Dorian Cols
Plaza Puerta del Sol
Address: Plaza Puerta del Sol
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The Puerta del Sol is one of the most important squares in Madrid. Nowadays it lies in the heart of the city, but back in the 15th Century it used to be one of the city entrance gates in the eastern part of Madrid (that's why it's called Puerta del Sol, 'The Gate of Sun'). In the middle of the square there is a monument of Karol III and a statue of the Bear of Madrono Tree, the heraldic symbol of Madrid. The most important building located on the square is the old Post Office, today the seat of government of the Madrid Community. Puerta del Sol is the main spot for demonstrations, but it is also the location for a New Years Party. Directly north of the Post Office there is the Kilómetro Cero, a point representing centre of Madrid and Spain.
Main street in Madrid
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Main street in Madrid, by Msondo
Gran Via
Address: Gran Via
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Gran Via, often called 'The Spanish Broadway', was built in the beginning of the 20th Century with the aim of connecting Calle de Alcala with the Plaza de Espana. The plan itself was first introduced in the 19th Century, but due to the necessity to demolish numerous buildings, the construction wasn't finished until 1929. Because of the demolition, Gran Via is sometimes called "an axe blow on the map."
Plaza Mayor
Address: Plaza Mayor
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One of the biggest and best known squares in Madrid, the Plaza Mayor, is situated in the centre of the city and is within walking distance from Madrid's other famous square, Puerta del Sol. Built in 1619 during the Austrian period, the square as we know it today is actually an effect of the reconstruction of 1790, which was necessary after a series of fires. One of the biggest tourists attractions in Madrid nowadays, the Plaza del Sol has been the scene of numerous events throughout its history – from football matches, bull fights and markets, to public executions during the Spanish Inquisition.
Plaza del Callao
Address: Plaza del Callao
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Plaza del Callo is a small square situated on the famous Gran Via and is one of the biggest streets in Madrid, called The Spanish Broadway. The square was named after the Guerra del Pacífico, the naval Battle of Callao that took place in 1866 between the Spanish fleet and the combined alliance of Peru, Chile, Bolivia and Ecuador near the port city of Callao in Peru. Today, Plaza del Callao is best know as the 'cinematic heart' of Madrid, with six cinemas located in the beautiful Art-Deco buildings facing the square.
Plaza de España
Address: Plaza de España
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Where Gran Via meets Calle Princesa lays the Plaza de Espana, a large square surrounded by two symmetric skyscrapers, Edificio de España and Torre de Madrid. The square is filled with greenery and is used as a park. It's a wonderful place to spend a siesta. In the middle there is a pool with a statue of the famous knight from La Mancha, Don Quixotte, and his squire, Sancho Panza, and the artist who created them – Miguel de Cervates.
Plaza de Lavapies
Address: Plaza de Lavapies
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Plaza de Lavapies is situated in the centre of Lavapies Barrio, one of Madrid's districts. Its name means literally 'wash feet', most probably because of the Jewish origin of the place. The fountain situated in the centre of the square was indeed used by the inhabitants of the neighbourhood to wash their feet.
Plaza de Cibeles
Address: Plaza de Cibeles
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Plaza de Cibeles is a picturesque square located on the junction of two important streets in Madrid: Calle de Alcala and Paseo del Prado, and it's famous for three reasons. Near the square you'll see one of the most fascinating buildings in the world – Palacio de Comunicaciones, or Communications Palace. This impressive building, built between 1905 and 1917, is not only the headquarters of the post office, but also holds the Postal and Telegraphic Museum. Another famous building at the Plaza de Cibeleles is the Banco de Espana (built between 1884 and 1891), where, 35 metres underground, the Central Bank of Spain keeps its gold. Yet, probably the most important part of Plaza de Cibeles is the fountain known as Fuente de la Cibeles, one of the most recognisable symbols of Madrid. It's also the favourite place of Real Madrid C.F. Football club fans, where they gather to celebrate all victories of their favourite team.
Plaza de la Independencia
Address: Plaza de la Independencia
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Plaza de la Independencia, located on the Calle Alcala, is as famous as one of the most remarkable symbols of Madrid - Puerta de Alcala, or 'Alcala Gate'. Built on the site in 1778, the arch has five openings, three semicircular arches and two lintel arches. It was a masterpiece of 18th-Century European architecture.
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