Tag Archives: puerta de sol

Revolution in the streets

About 5 days ago I got an SMS from a friend who lives up by Parque de Berlin, North-Central Madrid. It said:

TODOS A LA PUERTA DEL SOL, NO NOS VAN A ENGAÑAR MAS, DEMOCRACIA REAL YA!

I jumped on the computer and clicked through to RealMadrid.com. What had happened? Had the socios revolted against the management? Had Jose Mourinho been sacked?

Nothing seemed out of place. What was my friend on about?

I texted him back. “What’s up dude? What does your message mean?”

Well, it appeared that my poor Spanish was at fault. This was not Real in the sense of Royal, this was Real in the sense of real. It was a call to protest, the very beginnings of what has now morphed into a nationwide movement.

As I write, the Puerta del Sol, the public square at the centre of the city, is currently occupied by many thousands of (mostly young) demonstrators. They’ve set up camp and they’re not moving. It’s huge. To get an idea of how huge, check out this photo essay at The Atlantic website.

I’ve never seen a demo this big before, and I’ve seen a few – Madrid has lots of demonstrations, it’s a popular way to spend a Saturday.

Tomorrow (Sunday) there are municipal elections. The demonstrators say they are non-party aligned, but this is sure to have some sort of effect. It’s all very exciting. It could be momentous. But no-one has any clue how it might end.

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Soy una Osa

El Oso y el Madroño The city of Madrid’s emblem is ‘El Oso y el Madroño’ (The Bear and the Strawberry tree). The most famous representation of it is a statue in Puerta de Sol, pictured. Today, a group of ‘activists’ were in the plaza distributing flyers and scratch cards contending that ‘el oso’ is, in fact ‘una osa’ – i.e. it’s a female bear. Television cameras were out to record the fun and did a series of vox-pops about what the locals thought about this assault on their treasured symbol. Probably the best response recorded by TV Cuatro was a very wry fifty’ish bloke who, when asked: “So, do you think it’s an Osa, not an Oso?”, replied, “Why, of course it’s a female. If not, where’s its willy?” There are a number of theories as to how Madrid got a bear and a tree as its city emblem. For a selection of the best answers we recommend this page on Yahoo! Spain .