Back in the Middle Ages, cities have walls, and gates provide a means of controlling movement. The Puerta de Alcalá, Madrid is one of such barriers, where people who want to visit France, Catalonia, and Aragon need to pass through to have access. Here are five interesting facts you need to know about this beautiful historical landmark.
First Modern Post-Roman Triumphal Arch Built In Europe
After the fall of the Roman Empire, many might countries emerged in Europe, including the Spanish Nation. With independence comes creativity, and an opportunity to make history. The Puerta de Alcalá, Madrid is the first modern post-Roman triumphal arch built in Europe and is similar to the Roman triumphal arches which are found all over Europe. It measures 19.5 meters tall, has five arches with ornamental statues on top. The entire design was the work of artists Francisco Gutiérrez and Roberto Michel.
Each Side Has Different Designs
A fascinating issue about the Puerta de Alcalá is that each side is created with a different model. People who visit are usually stunned by the power of its beauty and majesty. If you’re looking from the side towards the city centre, you will see war trophies like flags, weapons, breastplates and helmets. These are three rounded arches which are decorated with the head of an imposing image of a lion. However, the other side is where you will first see when approaching the monument. It has the royal coat of arms held up. You’ll also discover figures of four children which represent temperance, fortitude, prudence, and justice.
The Story Goes Back 500 Years In History
Even though the gate was commissioned by King Charles III in 1774 and inaugurated in 1778, the story goes back over 500 years. Before the current entrance, there was a smaller and less glorious gate built in the 1500s, which is closer to the city. Several proposals were submitted to the king, but he eventually selected that of Italian architect Francesco Sabatini.
In the early days of the gate, it was used for livestock migration where the crossing of sheep through the door was a regular thing. However, things have changed now. But the city, in remembrance of their heritage, organizes the Trashumancia Festival in one fall Sunday every year. During this event, 2,000 sheep are paraded through the streets of Madrid as part of the ceremony that involves passing them through the monument. It’s such a glorious sight to behold those cute creatures overtake the city as they walk through an ancient migration route.
Damaged During The Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil War that took place from 1936 to 1939 was a dangerous and devastating time for Spain. The war took a toll on the city of Madrid, as many buildings and structures were targeted. Puerta de Alcalá was not spared as bullets, and bomb shrapnel repeatedly hit it. Damages done due to the war can still be seen until today.