The Gates and Fences of Madrid; Puertas y Cercas de Madrid!

On a tranquil Sunday and my puppy Rex already out and done, slight rain cloudy cool humid day I sat to continue the sage of historical Madrid, my beloved Madrid. I will not stop telling you the wonderful experiences as a young men of me living in Madrid for four years and visited zillions more; Madrid in my heart.

Let’s talk today about the gates and walls of Madrid, those still visible and those already gone, that made part of this vibrant , on the go city of modern Europe.

Puerta de Hierro or Steel Gate lies outside the city, at the end of the beltway to the Pardo forest. It was erected in 1751 during the reign of king Fernando VI. On a baroque style architecture following French and Italian ideas of the time, which got the gate done in an circular arch and an original wrought-iron lattice. The Puerta de Hierro is located in Monte del Pardo, close to the Ciudad Universitaria. Today, the location lies between two highways (beltway M-30 and the A6 to Coruña)   and difficult to reach,just passing by car. More info on Madrid tourist office webpage here: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/puerta-de-hierro

Madrid

Puerta de Hierro credit Mirador Madrid

Puerta de Moncloa or Arco de la Victoria built between 1950-1956 , and is located in one of the main entrances to Madrid on the A6 expressway to Coruña/Galicia right on the Avenida del Arco de la Victoria in the district of Moncloa-Aravaca, with 49 meters high on a rectangular base of 130 by 42 meters. The location of the  Arco de la Victoria or Puerta de Moncloa is surrounded by history and relative meaning as it was here that the battle of universtiy city (which is next door) or Battle of Madrid took place during the Spanish Civil War . This battle lasted 858 days from November 17 1936 to March 28 1939 with the most bloody moments happening a few meters from the gate . The gate is of a Roman style usually done to commemorate the victory at war and thanks the victorious armies entering the city. This is the reason why the Arco de la Victoria is the only one built right on the field of battle. Some historical debates to change its name has settled on the more peaceful Puerta de Moncloa. You reach it on Metro Moncloa lines 3 and 6 crossing Plaza Moncloa into the Avenida de la Memoria. You can see in the picture below a tower behind the gate well this is the Faro de Moncloa where you can climb the top and see the city with paid admission. More on Madrid tourist office here: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/arco-victoria

Madrid

Puerta de San Vicente or Saint Vincent gate was ordered by king Carlos III about the same time as the Puerta de Alcalà and done by architect Francesco Sabatini (also of the gardens and Royal Palace) been finished in 1775.  In order to create more space for traffic the original structure was dismantled in 1892. At that time some suggested to recycle the stones the gate was built from and use them for the gigantic street lanterns at the Glorieta de Cibeles. In the second half of the 20C Madrid’s city hall decided to rebuild the historical gate. The authorities started the reconstruction in 1994, using the old photographs. Thus, the Puerta de San Vicente once again appeared in one of Madrid’s most central squares, close to the Royal Palace. More on it from Madrid tourist office here: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/puerta-de-san-vicente

Madrid

Puerta de San Vicente credit Mirador Madrid

The Puerta de Toledo commemorates the arrival of  king Fernando VII to Madrid.  It was built close to the current La Latina neighborhood.  And the flea market or rastro of Madrid . The construction used granite and stone from Colmenar to build the gate that was inaugurated in 1827. On the side facing the  Manzanares river,  the Puerta de Toledo features a sculptural group that was supposed to represent the power of the Spanish monarchy on both hemispheres. On the opposite side of the gate ,looking north ,you can see Madrid’s official coat-of-arms with on each side, angels. It is 19 meters high and is comprised of three archways. The central arch is the tallest. It has a rounded semicircular arch and was the main gateway on the road towards the city of Toledo in past centuries.. Each of the two arches on either side of the central arch is also adorned with sculptures. These are representations of various military victories of the era. To get to Puerta de Toledo you can take the Metro on line 5, getting off at Puerta de Toledo station. Alternatively, you can take a bus; numbers 3, N3, 60, 17, 18, 23, 35 and 148 will all take you there. More from Madrid tourist office here: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/puerta-de-toledo_45

Madrid

Of course, the last standing and the best for me as it was the closest to my neighborhood and right on my street Calle de Alcalà yeah!! yes it is the Puerta de  Alcalà!

The Puerta de Alcalá is in my biase opinion the best known and the most beautiful of them all. It was built in 1769 by the Italian architect Francesco Sabatini (same as the garden and Royal Palace etc) as a part of the city embellishment promoted by king Carlos III. The king commissioned the construction as a reminder of accession to the throne in 1759. The gate was built at the city entrance, next to the road leading to the city of Alcalá de Henares, hence the name. The designed structure consisting of five arches. In addition to the openings, there are ten Ionic columns crowned by an attic. The Puerta de Alcalá is located right in front of the Retiro park, from which it has a wonderful entrance, my favorite. However, the original Puerta de Alcalá, which stood nearby, was built in 1599 as a welcome gesture to doña Margarita de Austria, who was the wife of King Felipe III. When Carlos III came to the throne of Spain one and a half centuries later, he entered Madrid in great style on December 9th, 1759. He was not at all pleased with this city gate, thinking it quite unsuitable for an important royal appearance. In 1764 the original Puerta de Alcalá was demolished and work started on the grand new gate. The new Puerta de Alcalá was completed in 1769 and its official inauguration took place in 1778. It is in the middle of Calle de Alcalá, one of the oldest streets in Madrid, and which runs from the Puerta del Sol in the city center outwards to the town of Alcalá de Henares, lying to the northeast of the city.  The closest Metro station to Puerta de Alcalá is Retiro; the gate is within a few meters of the main entrance to the Retiro Park.  Metro station,Banco de España, lies slightly further away to the west, just past the Cibeles Fountain on Calle de Alcalá. More on the Madrid tourist office here: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/puerta-de-alcala

Madrid

Madrid

There are several gates to parks or gardens that are worth mentioning. One is the Puerta de Felipe IV that gives entrance to the Retiro Park by the street or Calle Alfonso XII , the gate located in front of the Cason del Buen Retiro (annex to the Prado museum) between Calle de Felipe V and Calle de Felipe IV. It is built in baroque style , and was done in 1680 as an triumphal arch for Mary Louise of Orleans first wife of king Carlos II and again in 1690 for the same reasons to Marianne of Neoburg the second wife of the king. For which there is an inscription on the gate that is also known as.  On the site of Madrid tourist Retiro park you can find the location and picture. https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/parque-del-retiro

The other gate is that of Puerta Real which gives entrance to the Royal Botanical garden (Real  Jardin Botànico) on the sidewalk of the Paseo del Prado; another designed by Sabatini in the 18C in a classical style, that was officially opened in 1781.  It is also known as the Puerta Carlos III, that is part of the enclosure of the Royal Botanical garden.  It was done as the principal entrance to the garden but years later lost out to the Puerta de Murillo, in the square of same name and next to the facades of the Prado museum  done by architect Juan de Villanueva that gave the final touch to the Royal Botanical Garden. The Puerta Real is closed now. Read and see more on the tourist office site https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/real-jardin-botanico

Madrid

plaza murillo ent to Prado annex

There is one major and beautiful and popular gate that today is not really a gate or Puerta but still call this way. You guess it, Puerta del Sol, the center of wonderful Madrid. It was named for a gate that stood at the site until about 1510 and had a representation of the Sun. Now you have an equestrian statue of king Carlos III here since 1997 looking out into the 18C brick building that houses the post office house or Casa de Correos, built itself between 1766 and 1768. In front of the Casa de Correos, on the pavement, is the “kilometer 0″ plaque, from which all road distances in Spain are measure. There you a symbol of Madrid the Bear and the strawberry tree or the  Oso and the Madroño. Thi is a 20 tons statue of a bear eating the fruits from the tree. According to legend the original name of the city was “Ursaria” (“land of bears” in Latin), due to the high number of these animals that were found in the adjacent forests, which, together with the arbutus (“madroño” in Spanish), have been the emblem or symbol of the city from the Middle Ages.  After pointing out the giant “Tio Pepe” sign dominating one end of the square,on top of El Corte Inglés dept store building. You get to this gate on metro lines 1,2, and 3;  Sol station. More on Madrid tourist office here: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/puerta-del-sol

Madrid

Madrid

casa de correos on right

Madrid

Oso y Madroño

Madrid

tio Pepe

Now let me take you back in time to another eras of Madrid and its many previous gates, walls and ramparts, a bit of history I like. Let me introduce to you this site in Spanish that I take my inspiration for Madrid and writing about it, and this post. The old historical information was translated from the Spanish by yours truly from the webpage below of Lourdes Maria Morales. https://www.unaventanadesdemadrid.com/murallas-cercas-y-puertas-de-madrid.html

Madrid

model of the walls of Madrid from VdM

The first wall and maybe the foundation of Mayrit (Madrid) we can place it in the 9C when the Emir Mohamed I ordered the construction of a high overlook tower where today sits the Royal Palace. The second wall was built by king Alfonso VII in the 12C and about triple the size of the first one, with about 35 hectares (about 86 acres) and four gates that do not exist today such as the Puerta de Valnadú, Puerta de Guadalajara, Puerta Cerrada ,and Puerta de Moros. Today ,there are still traces of this wall in the following sites.

Calle de los Mancebos. No 3-5 as an old wall a bit damaged.  Calle del Almendro no 15-17 with a bout 16 meters long by 11 meters high also damaged in a patio. By the area of Cava Baja you can see the following traces at No 30 19 meters long by 11,5 meters high in an interior patio; No 22 remains of foundation and a circular small tower not visible to the public. No 10 under an stair of a building there is a piece of about 7 meters long and 1-4 meters high with a small semicircular tower and can be seen. At the Plaza de Puerta Cerrada no 4-6 inside private homes there is a piece of the wall to the crowning above.

You have the Arrabal fence or Cerca del Arrabal, probably built in 1438 after a plague epidemy ,which due to it a hospital was built with a fence to unite the suburbs of the city. This hospital was next to the Puerta de Guadalajara and it will be later the Hospital del Buen Suceso that stayed by the Puerta del Sol until 1854 when it was demolished. The Puerta (Gate) de Santo Domingo, was at the square (Plaza) of same name coming both from the convent of Santo Domingo the Royal founded by Santo Domingo de Guzman in 1212. The side gate or Postigo de San Martin , name after the nearby convent was in the crossing of the streets Calle San Martin and Calle Navas de Tolosa; later moved to the now Plaza de Callao. The gate or Puerta de Atocha was actually in the now Plaza de Jacinto Benavente. The side gate or Postigo de San Millàn named after the Chapel that was in what is today the Plaza de Cascorro. The gate or Puerta de La Latina in the Calle de Toledo in front of the Plaza de la Cebada, initially called the Puerta de San Francisco to take you to the convent of the same name in what is today the Basilica of San Francisco el Grande, and later the neighborhood of La Latina with a hospital nearby with the same name. The Puerta de Moros with a Christian wall, and the Puerta de la Vega which survived the Arab wall.

The fence of Philip II or Cerca de Felipe II in the Calle Bailén. In 1566, king Felipe II ordered built a new fence for fiscal and sanitary reasons, not defensive. It took about 125 hectares ( about 309 acres) and that was unknown until found in 1991,while doing expansion work on the Spanish Senate building in the Calle Bailén which by some experts should belong to the previously mentioned Cerca del Arrabal , and for others that of Cerca de Felipe II. The Puerta de Santo Domingo on the Cerca del Arrabal , postigo de San Martin as the previously mentioned too. The Puerta de la Red de San Luis next to the ways to Hortaleza and Fuencarral , taken the name from a network of a bread market to it wont be stolen and the Church of  San Luis Obispo, located in the Calle Montera; no longer in existance.  The Puerta de Anton Martin located in the square of the same name, took the name from the Hospital of San Juan de Dios,better known by the name of the founder  Antón Martín.  The Puerta de la Vega, on the old Arab wall was replaced in 1708, and finally demolished in 1814.

The fence of  Philip IV or Cerca de Felipe IV  was ordered by the king to be built in 1625  with bricks and dirt.  The construction was motivated by fiscal and vigilance motives as it was not a defensive wall; what was looking is to tax all products entering the city as well as look after the persons entering the city. The Ronda de Segovia with about 500 hectares ( 1236 acres) that is about the current districts of Centro, Retiro park, and Jeronimos neighborhood. It stood there limiting the growth of the city until 1868. The only remains that have reach our days is in the current Ronda de Segovia. The narrow pass or Portillo de San Bernardino, called initially as  San Joaquín  for the nearby convent of the same name on the Calle Princesa, facing the Calle del Rey Fernando. Later was change to San Bernardino  for another nearby convent of the same name that was moved to the Calle de Quintana. demolished in 1868. The  narrow pass or Portillo del Conde Duque at the intersection of Calle Amaniel and Calle Conde Duque . The name comes from the nearby Palace of or  Palacio del Conde-Duque (where today you see the Palacio de Liria, and HQ of the Conde-Duque (Count Duke)). It was also called the Portillo de los Guardias, for being of the body guards, and was demolished in 1868.
The Portillo de Fuencarral, name as is even if the true name was that of Portillo de Santo Domingo. Located in the calle de San Bernardo, by the level of calle de Santa Cruz de Marcenado. Built in 1642 , and demolished in 1867. The Portillo de las Maravillas, given the name from the nearby convent of Maravillas, that was situated at the intersection of Calle de Ruiz, and Calle del  Divino Pastor. The Puerta de Bilbao, known initially as the Puerta de los Pozos de la Nieve (gate of the snow wells)  for been nearby ; built in 1625  by the level of Calle  Fuencarral and Calle del Divino Pastor  to be moved in 1690  to the north in the current Glorieta de Bilbao.  Later, it was named Puerta de San Fernando until 1837  it was adopted with the name of Puerta de Bilbao in memory of that city and its defenders. It had a panel that can be read  “A los heroicos defensores y libertados de la invicta villa de Bilbao, los habitantes de Madrid”, or to the heroic defenders and liberators of the undefeated city of Bilbao, by the people of Madrid. The Portillo de Santa Bárbara, located in the square of same name at the end of Calle Hortaleza. Both adopted the name of the nearby convent of Santa Bárbara.

The Portillo de Recoletos, located first in front of the National Library or Biblioteca Nacional on the  Paseo de Recoletos , and later change in 1756, when king Fernando VI  built the fence or cerca de las Salesas Reales, by a new gate that was considered the best of the existing ones until that of Puerta de Alcalá was built. IT was dismantled in 1863  to be moved to another location but later abandoned, damage and in bad shape so never rebuilt and the parts used for other constructions. The Portillo de Valencia, aka as Puerta de Lavapiés located at the beginning of Calle Lavapies that today is call Calle Valencia facing the Calle Doctor Fourquet. In 1778, a new side gate was built that takes the name of Portillo de Valencia for being in the beginning of the road to Levante; later demolished in 1868. The Portillo de Embajadores from the 17C ,and in 1782 when the Ronda de Toledo was built ,its position was advance until the current Glorieta de Embajadores and as in the previous one , was demolished in 1868. The Portillo del Campanillo del Mundo Nuevo built in 1856 to avoid that the way of the cattle as it entered the city to the slaughterhouse of the Plaza del General Vara de Rey.

The Portillo de Gilimon, located at the end of the Calle San Bernabé, the Portillo de las Vistillas name for the views you can have from it; the Puerta de Segovia built by the middle of the 17C near the Puente de Segovia (bridge) from which it took the name of Puerta del Puente; demolished in 1849 and re built the following year until finally demolished for good in 1868. The Puerta de la Vega, originally demolished and rebuilt a new one in 1708 that was as well demolished in 1830 and replaced by a side gate or Portillo in wood until determine what to do. Finally, demolished in 1850 and change the lands into a series of ramps that we still have today. Here ,it is worth mentioning the story of the Virgin of Almudena or Virgen de la Almudena ,that according to tradition was hidden since the Arab occupation in 712AD until the conquest of the city by king Alfonso VI in  1085.  The image of the Virgin was found in a bucket at the Puerta de la Vega and once fallen a second time the Virgin was place in a niche on the ramp or Cuesta de la Vega.  The one you see there today was done in 1941.

There, I hope you like as I do the fascinating stories of cities and especially one my beloved Madrid. Or as the old saying says, From Madrid to heaven and a hole in the sky to look down on it everyday! yes!!! Have a great Sunday, happy travels, good health and enjoy life. Cheers!

 

 

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