See the majestic gate that was once Madrid’s eastern entrance but is today a symbol of the Spanish metropolis.
The Puerta de Alcalá is probably the best known of Madrid’s old city gates. It was commissioned in the early 1770s by King Carlos III as a grander replacement for the original gate, built in 1559.
The gate was designed by prominent architect Francisco Sabatini and decorated with friezes, reliefs and statues by Robert de Michel and Francisco Gutiérrez. Today the Puerta de Alcalá stands at the near center of Madrid, though it once marked the city’s eastern extremity and the road to Alcalá de Henares.
Stand on the corner of one of many roads that meet at the gate and admire the elegant neoclassical architecture. There are three principal archways topped with lions’ heads and two smaller rectangular openings with cornucopia reliefs.
Admire the columns that adorn its eastern side or look up to see the royal coat of arms. The inscription below reads “Rege Carolo III Anno MDCCLXXVIII,” a tribute to King Carlos III.
You’ll also notice an array of allegorical statues atop the gate.
Inspect the masonry closely to see damage from a cannon shell that exploded nearby in the early 1800s. Walk the small, but immaculate gardens around the gate or simply take it all in from afar. Getting close to the gate can be difficult as it’s surrounded by traffic, so it’s often best viewed from a nearby restaurant, bar or hotel. Check it out at night to see it spectacularly lit up.
The Puerta de Alcalá is directly east along Calle de Alcalá from Puerta del Sol. It’s right beside El Retiro Park and the Retiro metro station. You’ll be able to visit the gate at any time of day or night, but it makes a great stop on the way to the El Retiro, Gran Vía or the Plaza de Cibeles.