Fodor's Expert Review Puerta del Sol
Crowded with locals, tourists, hawkers, and street performers—and the site of many important protests in recent decades—the Puerta del Sol is the nerve center of Madrid. The city's main metro interchange, the largest in the world, is below. A brass plaque in the sidewalk on the south side of the plaza marks Kilometer 0, the point from which all distances in Spain are measured. The restored 1756 French-neoclassical building near the marker now houses the offices of the regional government, but during Franco's reign, it was the headquarters of his secret police and is still known colloquially as the Casa de los Gritos (House of Screams). Across the square are a bronze statue of Madrid's official symbol, a bear with a madroño (strawberry tree), and a statue of King and Mayor Carlos III on horseback.