Puerta de Alcalá, Madrid

Category: Madrid

Planning a trip to Madrid soon and looking for some interesting things to do and see?  If so, the
Puerta de Alcalá is definitely something to put on your list.  Below we will provide some reasoning as to why the Puerta de Alcalá is such an interesting place to visit, including some information about its location, history and impressive characteristics.

Puerta de Alcalá

Situated in Madrid’s Plaza de la Independencia, the Puerta de Alcalá, or Gate of Alcala is one of the city’s most popular and lasting attractions.  The original Puerta de Alcalá, which was built in 1599 as a welcome gesture to doña Margarita de Austria, stood very nearby the location in which the new gate stands today—a new gate that is credited to King Carlos III.  When Carlos III ascended to the throne a century and a half after the original gate was built, entering Madrid through the Puerta de Alcalá on December 9, 1759, he found himself displeased with this gate and its features, finding it unworthy for an important royal appearance.  Not too long following this “unimpressive” entrance into Madrid, the King demanded that a new—and much more flamboyant—gate be built, calling upon the finest architects of the day to propose a plan.  Out of all the designs that were proposed, including those by renowned Spanish architects Ventura Rodriguez and José de Hermosillo, King Carlos III chose the design of an Italian architect, Francisco Sabatini.

Construction of the new and improved Puerta de Alcalá commenced in 1764 and was finally completed some five years later.  Then, in 1778, an official inauguration was held to commemorate the new landmark and honor those who had built it.
Today the Puerta de Alcalá stands proudly in the East of Madrid, in the center of Calle Alcalá, one of the oldest streets in the city that runs from the Puerta del Sol, in the heart of Madrid, to the town of Alcala de Henares, in the city’s northeast.  The gate continues to be revered by locals and tourists alike as a grand and majestic structure featuring a large, central semicircular arch, flanked on each side by two similar arches.  These are in turn flanked by a square gate on each side, making five passageways in all.

The Puerta de Alcalá is adorned with six ornamental statues atop the structure, beautifully sculpted by the artists Francisco Gutierrez and Roberto Michel.  At the gate’s apex, in the raised center, a plaque is affixed with the words “REGE CARLOS III ANNO MDCCLXXVIII,” commemorating King Carlos III and the year the Puerta de Alcalá was inaugurated, 1778.
The archways of the Puerta de Alcalá have seen much throughout the centuries.  The gate was once considered a cañada real—a special route for moving livestock on a seasonal basis—with literally thousands of sheep and other animals having passed through its gates over the years.  In 1854, the renowned Count of Villahermosa also entered Madrid through the Puerta de Alcalá, fatigued, war-torn and brandishing an enemy spear.  As a result, he earned the nickname Longinos from the locals.

More recently, in 1985, the monument was immortalized in song by Spanish singers Ana Belen and Victor Manuel.  The song, “La Puerta de Alcalá,” gained wide acclaim and became a huge success in Spain and throughout South America and Central America.