This is why costly renovation of Puerta del Sol in Madrid is criticised

by Lorraine Williamson
Puerta del Sol

MADRID – Puerta del Sol in Madrid is one of the main squares of the Spanish capital. It is considered the geographical centre of the country and has traditionally been the point where all major roads in Spain begin and end. 

Below the clock in Puerta del Sol is a bronze plaque with the words “Kilómetro Cero” (km 0) and the designation of the various Spanish roads that begin and end here. Puerta del Sol is also famous for its New Year celebrations. Thousands of people gather here to watch the clock count down to the new year and to eat the traditional twelve grapes. 

After a major renovation that cost €10.7 million, the municipality reopened the square. The renovation started in 2019 and was originally scheduled to be completed at the end of 2020. However, the pandemic delayed work and it took until April 2022 for the project to be finished. 

The renovation included the restoration of the monumental bell tower, the replacement of the paving stones and the modernisation of the sewage and electricity network. New seats and lighting were also added. 

Not a single tree or shade 

However, what is immediately noticeable is the total absence of trees or shade. This year in particular we are being constantly reminded on all sides of the consequences of global warming. Therefore, this has caused a lot of commotion and criticism on social media. The mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, has not hesitated to respond. He noted that the previous tenure, led by Manuela Carmena, was “a jungle where flora and fauna flourished and where Madrilenians saw in no way the cement they had to walk on”. 

Previously, Más Madrid’s candidate for mayor, Rita Maestre, had stated that the new Puerta del Sol is “the most expensive grill in history, with €10 million invested in a square that not only offers no shade but also adds nothing new to what was before.” 

“At Más Madrid we want to do the opposite. We want to implement works and infrastructure that are useful, that move with the times and not against it and that have a real impact in improving the lives of the people of Madrid,” Maestre stressed. 

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José Luis Martínez-Almeida defended himself by recalling that during his tenure “new parks have been inaugurated in the city of Madrid. For example, La Gavia Park, Princess Leonor Park, or on the other hand, La Cuña Verde de O’Donnell”. And, furthermore that there “210,000 trees have been planted”. 

Comments on Twitter 

In any case, Twitter users have the last word. On the social network there are many criticisms and jokes about the new Puerta del Sol. Some even compare it to a frying pan or an oven. 

@Sunotissima posts a photo of a microwave oven on Twitter with the comment “The Puerta del Sol turned out beautiful”. 


@AbreCesar23 writes: “- It was horrible, with no water, in full sun, not even a shade to shelter. I noticed my body getting more and more dehydrated every second…- Got lost in the Sahara? -No, I went to Puerto del Sol”. 


@El_Moreno_ writes: “The reform of Puerta del Sol is probably one of the worst urban nonsense Madrid has seen. Ideal for baking and spoiling in the summer at over 40 degrees. What a damn sloppiness.”  


@GeogreKplan shows a photo of Dalí’s molten clock with the text “The clock of the new Puerta del Sol”. 

Related post: Future Spain: More trees needed in urban heat islands or more heat deaths  

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