The Puerta de Alcalá, Madrid

The Puerta de Alcalá, Madrid
The Puerta de Alcalá, Madrid

The Puerta de Alcalá is one of the most representative monuments of the Spanish capital, it has always been considered one of the emblems of the capital of Madrid, forming part of the five monumental gates that served as access to the city and that would come to replace a previous door dating from the 16th century.


The door was commissioned by the monarch Carlos III in 1778, in the context of the renovation that the most enlightened monarch of the Spanish monarchy established in his kingdom. The work was entrusted to the Italian architect Francesco Sabatini (1722 – 1797) who spent a large part of his life in Spain developing his best works here; his constructions are based on the conjunction between baroque and neoclassical forms, embodying like few others the urban spirit of the transition.

The artist designed a monumental work, a great door inspired by the forms of classical Roman architecture, which was the first triumphal arch built in Europe after the end of the Roman Empireand that would lay the foundations for the construction of such emblematic works as the Arc de Triomphe in Paris or the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

Thick, perfectly carved stone ashlars were used in its construction, combined with another type of whitish stone used for decorative elements. Lead was used in the deck area tokeep the structure of the gables protected.

The Sabatini door extends horizontally despite being two storeys high: the lower storey is made up of five openings or openings, at the ends the openings are lintelled while the three central ones are structured in semicircular arches. The second floor is not articulated as such in the entire complex but is only developed in the central area and is made up of a solid body slightly set back and topped by a divided curved pediment with great decoration.

Despite being more decorative than structural, we find supporting elements such as Ionic columns with garlands supported by Ionic retropilasters on the lower floor and small grooved Doric pilasters on the upper floor.

The slight padding that some parts of the wall present, as well as the setback of elements and the modulation of the openings, contribute to giving the monument great dynamism and lightness.

The decoration made by Francisco Gutiérrez and Roberto Michel follows the same classicist tendencies as the architecture. They are harmonic forms with the whole that perfectly respect the space of the architecture and serve as a complement to it. On the upper floor we find the royal coat of arms flanked by Fame and a small child that represents the Genius; four other children also appear representing Temperance, Fortitude, Justice and Prudence, the four cardinal virtues. As allegories to peace, fourempty armor resting on the famous door. In addition, the set is completed with garlands, bucraniums, plant decoration… all elements inspired by classical antiquity.

In 1976 the Puerta de Alcalá was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest by the community of Madrid.

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