Makeover for Puerta del Sol, Spain’s most iconic square

by Lorraine Williamson
Puerta del Sol, Madrid

MADRID – Work will start in February or March to renovate one of Spain’s most iconic squares. The most important adjustment is the replacement of the commuter train station. This has only been in use for 13 years.

The Puerta del Sol is not only in the heart of Madrid, but is the zero point of all Spain. From here you can access all other places in the country. Everyone also knows the clock of the Casa de Correos, where on New Year’s Eve the countdown to the New Year takes place and the traditional 12 grapes are eaten at the last 12 chimes. The 4-metre high bear and strawberry tree, the symbol of the Spanish capital, is also on the Puerta del Sol. 

The construction of the current station of the cercanías (commuter train), popularly known as ‘la ballsa’, cost around €570 million in 2009. However, a new, station will now be built in its place. This aims to make the Puerta del Sol a lot more spacious, according to Mayor Jose Luís Martínez-Almeida. 

The final design of the square will be definitively approved in February. Then work will begin in the first quarter of this year. This was, however, preceded by a lengthy procedure because many different parties had to give approval. These included the board responsible for Environment, Mobility and Safety, railway manager Adif, Metro de Madrid. It also involved the Directorate General for Heritage of the Madrid Region. This is because the Puerta del Sol is officially protected as Bien de Interests Cultural (BIC). 

100% pedestrian zone 

In early 2020, the mayor of Madrid announced the square would undergo a major transformation, with all traffic banned from the square and only for pedestrians. It is a design by José Ignacio Linazarsoro and Ricardo Sánchez that already won in 2014 in a tender by the Municipality of Madrid and the Official College of Architects of Madrid (COAM). 

“The square now has a chaotic layout because small adjustments have been made since the 1980s, without a preconceived integral plan. There are now too many elements that are different from each other, ranging from kiosks to metro entrances,” Linazasoro and Sánchez said recently in a special supplement in El País. 

Glass Train Station 

According to the new design, ‘La Ballena’ train station will be replaced by a much more transparent structure. This will not block the view of the entire square like its predecessor. There will be an oval, completely transparent glass construction that will never block the view of the square. The round shapes are aligned with the round lines of the facades on the square. Only a central shaft with three support points is not made of glass, but of steel. The double entrance is on the southeast side, with a double exit heading southwest. 

Related post: Plaza de España, Madrid received major makeover

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