Archive for September 6th, 2019

September 6, 2019

Cibeles and CentroCentro Madrid of course!

And back at you again, bear with me please. This is Madrid! The subject today has many changes over the years, and one that I came to know early for not only the post office function but also to make long distance phone calls while in my Madrid of the early 70’s to the USA! Long story need to read my blog more lol!

The Palacio de Comunicaciones or central post office or the Palacio de Cibeles well you will get the idea. This is a Madrid landmark and will tell you a bit more on it that is already told in my previous posts!

 

The Cibeles Palace (also called the Telecommunications Palace) or Palacio de Cibeles or CentroCentro  is a complex consisting of two white-fronted buildings. They stand on one side of the Plaza de Cibeles in the Jerónimos neighborhood , district of Retiro, and occupy around 30,000 square meters of what were the former Buen Retiro gardens (Jardines del Buen Retiro). The building consists of five floors in total. The block in which the Palace building is located is limited to the North with Calle de Alcalá, to the South by Calle Montalbán , to the East by Calle Alfonso XII  and to the West by Paseo del Prado. You get here on metro line 2 Banco de Espana!

madrid

A bit of history I like

The building’s first stone was laid in 1907 and it would be officially inaugurated on March 14, 1919, beginning its operation as a modern distribution center for mails, telegraphs and telephones. In 2007, it began to house the municipal offices of the Madrid City Council, moving its units from the Casa de la Villa and Casa de Cisneros, both located in the Plaza de la Villa. This reform of the early 21C in the building also included a cultural area called “CentroCentro”.

At noon on March 14, 1919, after twelve years of construction work, the one officially called “Cathedral of Communications” is officially inaugurated. The royal couple attends the celebration king  Alfonso XIII and his wife Victoria Eugenia, accompanied by various components of the government.

A bit on the architecture ok

One of the characteristic elements of the environment was the installation of the Cibeles fountain in 1794  designed  of Ventura Rodríguez right in front!. The current Plaza de Cibeles was called Plaza de Madrid, which was renamed Plaza de Castelar. The Buen Retiro gardens reached their extension to the Paseo del Prado. The inaugurations of the Jardines del Buen Retiro in 1876 and the Hippodrome de la Castellana two years later caused the traffic to travel to the confluence of the street of or Calle de Alcalá with the Paseo del Prado.

The main access gives rise to the Hall Principal or main hall, a large space in the heart of the Cibeles building in the form of a lobby. In this Hall Principal  the three communications services were arranged, distributed radially trilobite from the central dome, integrated in the Hall Principal  illuminated by the exterior windows. The natural lighting coming from the windows, instead of being artificial, allows saving while facilitating work inside. To the right of the entrance are the postal services, in the telegraph entry and in the left one, the telephone service. All services were in the same space: the Hall Principal. The set is divided into two buildings separated by the Pasaje de Alarcón passage , which is currently covered by glass vaults. The building that overlooks the Plaza de Cibeles is the Post Office, Telegraph and Telephone Central. The other building after the passage of Alarcon is the General Directorate. The mailboxes are arranged in a section located to the right of the Central Post Office, behind a porch. In this building a large mail room aka Sala de Batalla or battle room  with space for 400 postmen was arranged. In the Pasaje de Alarcón there was a distribution truck parking lot. The radial structure of telegraphic communications and its operation during 24 hours allows its use at any time. The telephone service area had twelve telephone booths for public service that allowed sufficient independence and isolation. In the General Directorate building, the administration of Telegraphs by Calle de Alcalá and Correos or post office by the Paseo del Prado is distributed. The design includes important technical improvements of the time such as the low pressure steam heating system, and natural ventilation systems.

madrid

The new era of the Palacio de Cibeles as CentroCentro!

The Palacio de Comunicaciones or Communication palace becomes at the beginning of the 21C the new headquarters of the Madrid City Council and, in doing so, changes its name to Palacio de Cibeles. In 2003 it was decided that some functional areas of the building be transformed. This is the case of the sala de batallas or battle room, which is modified as in the Plenary Hall. On November 5, 2007, hosts the headquarters of the Mayor’s Office of Madrid, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón being the first mayor of Madrid to occupy his position in that building . On November 29, 2011, the inauguration of the Plenary Hall of the building takes place with the presence of King Juan Carlos I and Mayor Alberto Ruiz- Gallardón.

madrid

Now it opens the possibility of accessing the central tower of about 70 meters on floor no 8  that is opened to the public , and use it as a mirador or lookout of the city for 3€ .In the courtyard, at both ends, two social areas have been created, dedicated to citizen information and a reading room. There is now an exhibition space called CentroCentro, this space is incorporated with a couple of exhibition halls and an auditorium with capacity for a little more than three hundred people. In the central tower there is a huge electric clock face of about three meters in diameter that lights up at night ,and officially replacing the Puerta del Sol clock.

madrid

Some webpages to help plan your trip here are

City of Madrid main webpage in Spanish

Official CentroCentro cultural program in English

Tourist office of Madrid on CentroCentro

And there you go another dandy and by now very much visited by all, it was packed! CentroCentro is very nice,and the lookout or mirador is a nice alternative at least once to see the city from above its tower at 70 meters or about 231 feet. Enjoy it as we did

madrid

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

Tags: , ,
September 6, 2019

Puerta de Alcalà, Madrid!!!

So here I am at my Puerta de Alcalà a monumental entrance to my Madrid and from which I always entered the city when living there. I have no words to describe it every time I see passing by it with my late dear Mom Gladys! and later my dear late wife Martine,and now the 3 boys: memories for a lifetime.

I have written pieces on it in my blog before but apparently not a full post on it, this is it the time has come to do so. Bear with me its a bit long but worth it me think. The Puerta de Alcalà is Madrid for me before any other site.

The Puerta de Alcalá is one of the five old Royal gates that gave access to the city of Madrid. It is located in the center of the roundabout of the Plaza de la Independencia. At the crossroads of the streets of Alcalá, Alfonso XII, Serrano and Salustiano Olózaga, next to the gates of the Retiro park such as the  Puerta de España, Puerta de la Independencia and Puerta de Hernani. The outline of the enclosure is formed by buildings from the late 19C and early 20C, built during the widening of Madrid. On the southeast side, is the Puerta de la Independencia, one of the main accesses to the Retiro Park.

madrid

The gate or Puerta de  Alcalà  gave access to those travelers who formerly entered the town from France or Aragon. At present it is a monumental gate that is located near the Cibeles Fountain and next to the Retiro Park. It was built by mandate of Carlos III in substitution of another previous gate that already existed since the 16C. It is a gate of neoclassical style and monumental aspect similar to the Roman Arches of Triumph, it was erected looking its exterior to the east in 1778. The gate has subsequently been restored five times in more than two centuries of existence, being the last at the end of the 20C. The originality of its factory consists in being the first triumphal arch built in Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire!

madrid

A bit of history I like

The city of Madrid had, since its inception, numerous gates and access gates to the city through its wall. The walls and the gates had a character of fiscal control of merchandise, at the same time as defensive. The wall was re-built with a growing radius, the so-called Christian wall that marked new limits. The gates proliferated in the 17C, and among them was that of Alcala. The exits from Madrid were flanked by five royal or registration gates (that is, those in which taxes were paid) such as those of Segovia (also called the Segovia Bridge), Guadalajara, Toledo, Atocha, Alcalá and Bilbao (or of the Pozos de la Nieve),  and fourteen minor or second order portholes that open on different dates such as  Vega, Vistillas, Gilimón, Campillo del Mundo Nuevo, Ambassadors, Valencia, Campanilla, Recoletos, Santa Barbara, Maravillas, Santo Domingo (or Fuencarral), Count Duque, San Bernardino (or San Joaquin) and San Vicente. The main gates remained open until 22h (10PM) at night in the winter time, and in the summer one more hour due to the greater length of the day. After this time, and only if necessary, a checkpoint  allowed the passage. However, the portholes opened in the early hours of the day and closed with the sunset, remaining closed all night.

The Puerta de Alcalá is currently one of the most important monumental references in the city of Madrid. During the 17C, two different architectural structures had said entrance before becoming a monument at the end of the 18C. Its relevance as a triumphal entry, providing excellence to the rite of entry into the city of the sovereign, was gradually gaining importance. From the Gate lining the Calle de Alcalá, the Puerta del Sol was accessed, and from there through the Calle Mayor to the Alcazar(Royal Palace).

madrid

During the plague pandemic that occurred in Madrid in 1580, the Puerta de Alcalà was already mentioned as a point of closure to the population. It was in a much more advanced position than the current one, at the intersection of  Calle Barquillo with Calle de Alcalá. This gate was called Puerta de la Peste de la calle de Alcalá (or gate of the plague of the Alcala Street). A decade later, its position was advanced again so that in 1599, the celebration of the entry into the city of the wife  of Felipe III, Margarita of Austria  that were married in Valencia. At this time it was located somewhat further west than today, at the height of the Alcalá crossing with Alfonso XI streets.

The Gate had a structure divided into three parts, it was composed of a central arch and two lateral openings. The entire door was erected in brick, with the exception of the pedestals and pilasters used for the vertical articulation of the factory for which stone was used.  The decoration consisted of the Royal and City weapons, with two figures representing Manto and his son Ocno, both founders of the city according to the mythology Mantua Carpetana. The subsequent entry, already in 1615 by Isabel de Borbón in Madrid, generated new plans for remodeling the arch and its images. In 1624 the allegorical images were finally removed, mainly due to the imminent risk of collapse they presented. In 1636, part of the gate was demolished and a single-span brick structure came to replace the tripartite arch. The previously existing allegorical figures were replaced by other stone statues of Our Lady of Las Mercedes. On the side arches were two statues of San Pedro Nolasco and Blessed Mariana de Jesus. From the palace del Buen Retiro  the facade of the Royal site that was adjacent to the Alcalá road was literally glued to one of the ends of the gate, while the other at the beginning of the Recoletos meadow had been practically embedded in the walls of the well deposit established since 1667 in the immediate grounds

The old gate or Puerta de Alcalà was demolished in 1770 when the Calle de Alcalá was expanded, then called the Royal road of Aragon and Catalonia, with land taken from what is now the Retiro Park, belonging to the Buen Retiro Palace. This gate, which served as access to the city by the royal road of Aragon and Catalonia, was one of the five main ones that had the wall surrounding the town, along with those of Toledo, Segovia, Bilbao and Atocha.  In 1754, king  Fernando VI, through the Hospital Board of the capital, inaugurated the bullring of the Puerta de Alcalá, installed in front of the Jardines del Buen Retiro, and it would remain active until its closure in 1874, date on which it gave the alternative to a new square built next to the Aragón road, in the Madrid enclave known much later as the Goya neighborhood. That bullring of the Puerta de Alcalá would be for 120 years the bullring of the town of Madrid, between 1754 and 1874. It was replaced by the bullring of the Fuente del Berro, an installation that in turn would be relieved by the Monumental of Ventas in 1934.

On December 9, 1759, Carlos III (son of Felipe V) entered Madrid, from Naples to succeed his brother, the late Fernando VI, on the throne. Disembarked in Barcelona, ​​he made from there his first trip to Madrid and entered through the old Puerta de Alcalá, which was not to his liking so he decided to tear it down to erect a new one. The gate would be the first modern triumphal arch erected in Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. In 1769 Carlos III decides that the Sabatini (as well as the gardens by the Royal Palace and others) project is the one to be carried out. After the election by Carlos III of the combined design of the Gate, a few days later on May 27, 1769,  the contracting of works and services for what will be the New Puerta de Alcalá began. This Puerta de Alcalà was inaugurated in 1778 as an authentic gate and access to Madrid, since on both sides of it there was still the wall that delimited the city from the east and that would remain standing until 1869, when the square was remodeled. It became the main entrance of the city and one of the most representative monuments of his reign, axis of the reforms he carried out throughout the eastern part of the city that included the  Botanical Garden, Paseo del Prado, Cibeles and Neptune fountains , among other.

The Puerta de Alcalá is modernized, and a more suitable environment and designed in the form of a square around it. This was decided to be call the Plaza de la Independencia square  in honor of Spanish independence and specifically the defenders of Zaragoza. It intends to decongest the growing traffic of vehicles (apparently there was already a lot of traffic then lol!) at the Puerta del Sol creating various congestions to Aragon. For this, it was decided  to have eight streets leave the new Plaza de la Independencia  radially and calls them as Sagunto, Numancia, Covadonga, Granada, Padilla, Bravo, Maldonado and Lanuza. The demolitions for the construction of the Gran Vía were contemplated from the Puerta de Alcalá as the increase in road traffic was beginning to be felt throughout the city.

In the Spanish Civil War Madrid was loyal to the Republic and made the gate suffer the effects of the rearguard in the so-called defense of Madrid. The Puerta de Alcalà was an ideal space for propaganda, it is for this reason that they hung up posters with portraits of various leaders of the Soviet Union. After the Civil War it served as an altar of masses for the celebration of the liberation of Madrid.

In the eighties, Bernardo Fuster and Luis Mendo, together with Francisco Villar, composed a song called La Puerta de Alcalá in which they tell the story of the monument. Recorded in 1986 by singers Víctor Manuel and Ana Belén in their album “Para la ternura siempre hay tiempo” or for tenderness there is always time. This song became a great popular success. In 1993 the Puerta de Alcalà was subjected to the most important restoration in its history. In the summer of 2006 the Plaza de la Independencia was subjected to some improvement works to become a roundabout. In August 2011, the Puerta de Alcalá was the scene of the act of welcoming Pope Benedict XVI on the occasion of the XXVI World Youth Day Madrid 2011. The Pope crossed the gate accompanied by young people from the five continents.

The tourist office of Madrid has info on it in English here: Tourist office of Madrid on the Puerta de Alcalà in English

There you go simply put, the best sight, a memory lane shock but always a must to see in my Madrid. Hope it is yours too with your visits. Enjoy the Puerta de Alcalà in lovely lively Madrid!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

Tags: , ,
%d bloggers like this: