The centre of Madrid - everything starts from here.
Usually simply called Sol, the semicircular space is just emerging from its latest makeover. Less traffic, more room to move, so it's all good. This is very much a place where all points meet, rather than an area to sit around in, and it can be a bit difficult to stand still looking at the various things of interest when there are thousands of people milling around. First things first. Walk over to the clocktower, which crowns the Casa de Correos, an 18th-century former post office which is now the headquarters of the regional government. Look down at the pavement, where there is a stone known as Kilometre Zero, which marks the centre of Spain. Distances to everywhere in the country are measured from here. The equestrian statue on the north side is of King Carlos III, but the thing everyone wants to see is the statue of a bear jumping up at an arbutus (or wild strawberry tree), which is Madrid's most famous symbol, over by Calle Alcala. The female bear represents the fertility of the Madrid region, and the tree represents the aristocracy.