The Gate was inaugurated in 1778 by the Italian architect Francesco Sabatini, who spent most of his life working in Madrid for the Spanish Royal Family. The Puerta de Alcalá replaced a brick monument from the sixteenth century that King Charles III had demolished years earlier. Previously, it had been one of the five gates of the city walls, and has long been witness to Madrid's history.
There was once another Puerta de Alcalá, made of brick, but Carlos III ordered its reconstruction in the Plaza de la Independencia. It was the first triumphal arch built in Europe following the fall of the Roman Empire. The arch is older than other monuments such as the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, or the Brandenburg Gate.
- The name “Puerta de Alcalá” (Alcalá Gate) and the street “Calle Alcalá” were both named this because this road had led to Alcalá de Henares, a Spanish city 22 miles – 35 km northeast of Madrid whose centre is a World Heritage Site.
- The arch is called “Puerta” (Gate) because it was once one of the five royal gates that gave access to the city of Madrid. In 1889, it was transformed into a plaza.
- In 1986, Víctor Manuel and Ana Belén (two very popular Spanish singers) dedicated a song to Puerta de Alcalá and it became an instant hit in Spain.
The Alcalá Gate is located just in front of the north-eastern entrance of Madrid’s most popular Park, El Retiro. This entry is very close to the park’s artificial lake, so it’s a perfect place to go next if you visit this impressive monument.