Puerta de Alcala

The Puerta de Alcala is a huge gate that is a monument in the Plaza de la Independencia, close to the El Retiro Park. It was built by Carlos III in 1778 and is one of the symbols of Madrid. At that time the nobility was building their palaces on the Paseo del Prado. It was decided to build a magnificent entrance to the city to adorn this neighborhood. The architect chosen was Francisco Sabatini, and he worked on this project between 1769 and 1778. His idea was a Baroque structure from the city of Rome. Robert Michel was chosen as the principal sculptor for the project, and Francisco Gutierrez also did many of the sculptures. They were the best sculptors of that time. All the sculptures used white stone from Colmenar de Oreja, a town near Chinchon. On the face of the gate looking toward the outside, there is an angel with a coat of arms and a little boy on top of the pediment. The capitals on the columns are copies of what Michaelangelo made for the Roman Capitol. There are figures of four little boys on top of the monument and they represent four cardinal virtues. The boy with his right hand on the bit of a horse represents Moderation. The boy with the helmet, lance, and shield represents Strength. The boy with the bundle of rods (fasces) represents Justice. The boy looking at himself with a mirror represents Prudence. The inside facade of the monument has the head of a lion on top of each of the three arches. There are also reliefs with cornucopias, signifying prosperity. During the War of Independence with the French, this monument suffered a lot of damage. The restoration was made in 1904.