The Puerta de Alcalá

The Puerta de Alcalá

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Would you like to learn more about the history of the Puerta de Alcalá? Continue reading!

It was built in 1778 to commemorate the arrival of King Charles III to Madrid. The name comes from the fact that it is located on the road that formerly existed to go to Alcalá de Henares, the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes. It was a door leading to the city protected by walls. There were five large gates and the Alcalá gate welcomed visitors coming from Catalonia, Aragón and France.

Its originality lied in the fact that it was the first triumphal arch built in Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire, even before Paris. The Puerta de Alcalá was designed by Francisco Sabatini, who sent two sketches to Charles III. They say that the king approved both and the architect was forced to make a Solomonic decision: merge the two projects into one, which is why the monument has two different sides.

One of the two sides of the monument has 10 Ionic semi-columns, while on the other there are two columns accompanied by pilasters. It is not Madrid’s most visited monument, but possibly its most emblematic. The duo comprised of Víctor Manuel and Ana Belén dedicated a song to it in 1986. Traces of the past You can still see the holes created by the firing by the national troops during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).

Between the Puerta de Alcalá and Buen Retiro Park is one of the few “cañadas reales” (ancient livestock trails) left in the city. To-day and since 1994, this stretch is filled with sheep and their shepherds on the last Sunday of October. Not even the police can stop them!

The figures of children crowning the Puerta de Alcalá are an allegory of the four cardinal virtues: fortitude, justice, temperance and prudence.

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