Madrid closes iconic Sol metro station to beef up New Year security
Jessica Jones · 30 Dec 2015, 10:10
Published: 30 Dec 2015 10:10 GMT+01:00
Madrid’s regional government confirmed on Wednesday that the underground station would be closed between 9pm and 12.30am on Wednesday 30th December and from 9pm on Thursday 31st because of New Year's Eve preparations.
Trains will pass through Sol station but will not stop. The closure will affect metro lines 1, 2 and 3. Those wishing to reach Sol are advised to get off at nearby metros such as Tirso de Molina on Line 1, Opera on Line 2 and 5 or Callao on Lines 3 and 5.
Sol metro station will also open later than usual - at 7am - on January 1st.
The closure has been ordered by Madrid’s police in a bid to limit overcrowding in Madrid’s busiest and most iconic meeting place, where every year, thousands of people gather to welcome in the New Year and eat twelve grapes - one on each gong of the bells at midnight.
The tradition of eating the twelve grapes stems from the beginning of the 20th century, when, in 1909, grape growers from Alicante encouraged the custom to sell that year’s excellent harvest.
According to tradition, eating a grape on each gong of the Puerta del Sol bell tower at midnight brings prosperity for the year ahead.
The Puerta del Sol is the most popular place in Spain for people to gather to eat the grapes and welcome in the new year, and the celebrations are broadcast live on television so people around the country can join in the party.
Puerta del Sol. Photo: AFP
This year the maximum capacity for the central square has been set at 25,000 people, while extra police will be patrolling to make sure one of the busiest nights of the year goes without a hitch.
Revellers will be prohibited from taking certain items into the square that could be deemed dangerous, including knives, fireworks, flags, sparklers and glass bottles.
Police will completely clear the square when the metro closes at 9pm, after which visitors will be vetted at security checkpoints before being allowed to enter the square.
Despite the New Year’s Eve closure, Madrid Metro is planning to run 20 percent more trains up to January 10th, coinciding with Spain’s main festive celebration, the Epiphany, on January 6th.