Puerta de Alcalá


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.

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.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Madrid attractions

1. Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas

0.15 MILES

Those who love sumptuous period furniture, ceramics, carpets, tapestries and the like will find themselves passing a worthwhile hour or two here. There’s…

2. Palacio de Linares

0.18 MILES

So extraordinary is the Palacio de Comunicaciones on Plaza de la Cibeles that many visitors fail to notice this fine 19th-century pleasure dome that…

3. Mirador de Madrid

0.19 MILES

The views from the summit of the Palacio de Comunicaciones are among Madrid's best, sweeping out over Plaza de la Cibeles, up the hill towards the sublime…

4. CentroCentro

0.19 MILES

One of Madrid's more surprising and diverse cultural spaces, CentroCentro is housed in the grand Palacio de Comunicaciones. It has cutting-edge…

5. Plaza de la Cibeles

0.24 MILES

Of all the grand roundabouts that punctuate the Paseo del Prado, Plaza de la Cibeles most evokes the splendour of imperial Madrid. The jewel in the crown…

6. Museo Arqueológico Nacional

0.24 MILES

The showpiece National Archaeology Museum contains a sweeping accumulation of artefacts behind its towering facade. Daringly redesigned within, the museum…

7. Centro Cultural Casa de Vacas

0.25 MILES

In the heart of the Parque del Buen Retiro, this building is occasionally used for temporary exhibitions as well as teatro infantil (children’s theatre)…