Puerta de Alcalá
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Puerta de Alcalá information
This imposing triumphal gate was once the main entrance to the city (its name derives from the fact that the road that passed under it led to Alcalá de Henares) and was surrounded by the city’s walls. It was here that the city authorities controlled access to the capital and levied customs duties.
The first gate to bear this name was built in 1599, but Carlos III was singularly unimpressed and had it demolished in 1764 to be replaced by another, the one you see today. It’s best appreciated from the east for fine views through the arch down towards central Madrid. Our only complaint? It could do with a clean. Twice a year, in autumn and spring, cars abandon the roundabout and are replaced by flocks of sheep being transferred in an age-old ritual from their summer to winter pastures (and vice versa). And the Puerta de Alcalá was immortalised in the cultural lexicon in 1986 when Ana Belén and Victor Manuel’s strangely catchy song ‘La Puerta de Alcalá’ became an unlikely smash hit.