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Madrid's Puerta del Sol ushered in the Spanish Presidency of the EU with a spectacular ligtht and sound show

The aqueduct in Segovia,the Agbar Tower in Barcelona or the Puerta de Alcalá in Madrid also were draped in blue.

On 1 January, an impressive light and sound display entitled 'Puerta del Sol, Puerta de Europe' (Puerta del Sol, Gateway to Europe) ushered in the Spanish Presidency of the European Union in Madrid.

After the last chime of the clock in the Puerta del Sol, which marked the beginning of 2010, the facade of the Real Casa de Correos de Madrid (the former post office building which now houses the regional government of Madrid), in the heart of the Spanish capital, was lit up with the logo of the Spanish Presidency, with images of the European Union's most emblematic buildings, the flags of its member states and its most representative icons.

On the last stroke of midnight, the wall niche which contains the ball positioned above the clock in the Puerta del Sol, turned the white light into the blue of the European flag and, like a cascade of light, the Real Casa de Correos building turned blue.

A blue curtain fell over the facade of the building and the European flag took shape, bearing the inscription: 'Presidencia Española de la Unión Europea' (Spanish Presidency of the European Union).

Immediately afterwards the music began and yellow balls of light appeared around the building, entering through various windows and lighting up the interior, while at the same time a series of patterns in white light appeared from the ground, creating a truly spectacular effect.

From one of the windows various white doves emerged which, upon reaching the centre of the building, were transformed into the twelve stars which make up the flag of the European Union.

The stars turned yellow, while the whole building turned blue, covered in a mantle of yellow specks. When these disappeared, the 27 national flags of the EU appeared all over the building on either side of the Union flag, which was positioned at the centre.

Monuments in blue all over Spain

Landmark buildings of member states of the EU were projected onto the facade in groups of three and, at one point, the Real Casa de Correos was transformed into a reconstructed Berlin Wall, which fell away to reveal the majestic image of the Brandenburg Gate, heightened with sound effects.

Another of the high points of the display was the appearance of the Spanish flag over the Puerta del Sol, while Ode to Joy, the anthem of the European Union, was played.

At the same time, the logo of the Spanish Presidency was projected onto the facade of the Royal Palace and Torre Picasso, one of the buildings in central Madrid that stands out on the capital's skyline. It will appear on the Royal Palace every night until 8 January and every night for the next six months on Torre Picasso.

All the cities that are to host the different meetings during the six-month term welcomed the Spanish Presidency of the EU by lighting up their landmark buildings in blue, to reflect the European flag.

The aqueduct in Segovia, the Trajan Arch in Mérida, the Tower of Hercules in A Coruña, Bellver Castle in Palma, Mallorca, the Quart Towers in Valencia, the Agbar Tower in Barcelona, the Alfredo Kraus Auditorium in Las Palmas (Gran Canaria), the 'Monumento a las Cortes' in Cádiz and the Puerta de Alcalá in Madrid were draped in blue, reflecting the direct participation of these municipalities in the Spanish Presidency of the EU.

Other towns and cities also echoed the inauguration of the Spanish Presidency, lighting up their best-known monuments and town or city halls in blue.

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