km 0

This is the Zero Kilometre Marker in Madrid, Spain.

Distances of Spain’s six national highways were measured from this point. The carreteras radiales (radial highways) were numbered N-I to N-VI. These highways lead out in the N, NE, E, S, W & NW directions, some to the Portuguese and French borders. Expansions to the road network have given rise to new routes and a new naming convention. The highways are now numbered A1, A2, and so on. The words ‘Origen de la Carreteras Radiales’ (Start point of the radial highways) are written in a semi-circular fashion. Below it are the words ‘Km 0’, which are sadly obscured in my pic 😦 Below the words ‘Km 0’ is the map of Spain with Madrid marked in the centre with two arrows going outward in the east-west directions. The white parts on the map in the north and west denote France and Portugal, respectively. Six thin white lines represent the six radial roads.
On the left-hand side is the logo of the Organisation of Civil Engineers (Colegio de Ingenieros de Caminos, Canales y Puertos). On the right-hand side is a collage of different elements from Madrid’s old and new coat of arms – the crest is the heraldic royal crown, below which on the left is a griffin and on the right is the strawberry tree and bear. At the bottom is a civic crown or grass crown.

Many countries have such Zero Kilometre markers in their capital cities. Madrid happens to be the capital city as well as at the geographic centre of Spain. In India, Nagpur is geographically centrally located from the four metro cities, New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai. There is a Zero Kilometre marker built by the British, but no one is sure if it was used to measure distances to other cities or mark the geographic centre of British India. I vaguely remember my parents telling me that distances were measured from the District Commissioner’s office in my hometown. Those were the days when one used to refer to atlases to lookup places and distances. Now, everything is just a click away 🙂
So, tell me, does your city have a marker like this? If not, where is it situated in your country?

I actually dug out this pic from the depths of my travel trunk 😉 At the time of taking the picture, the plaque in Madrid was pretty worn out. It has since been replaced. It looks like this these days, and if you read the description that I have given above in conjunction with this picture, it would make a lot more sense 🙂

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