The work of Sabatini in Madrid, The puerta de Alcalá

Francesco Sabatini (Palermo, 1722-Madrid, 1797) was, as I had mentioned in previous articles, a Sicilian architect who had a great influence on Madrid’s architecture during the reign of Charles III. In my upcoming articles, I’ll be going a little more in-depth, without overbearing the reader, on some of his works in Madrid.

The puerta de Alcalá


The Puerta, or gate, of Alcalá was built in 1778 during the reign of Charles III and was a symbol of his entrance into Madrid after reigning in Naples and Sicily. After the fall of the Roman Empire, it is considered to be Europe’s oldest triumphant arch. It is older, as a matter of fact, than the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Built in Neoclassic style, it substituted an older Barroque style gate which Charles III dislked.

It was one of the five royal gates which gave access to Madrid and its main function was to levy taxes and allowed, among other things, the passage of shepherds and their flocks of sheep. The area around the Puerta de Alcalá is considered a royal passageway for sheep and if you look closely in the square, you’ll find markers which indicate this. The Puerta de Alcalá, and the rest of the royal gates, had an opening time which began at sunrise and a closing time which was ten pm during the winter and 11 pm in the summer.


Since its construction until nowadays, the Puerta de Alcalá has undergone five major renovations. The first one was done in 1869 and the last was in 1993 when the lead roofing, which was in very bad condition, was substituted for a new one. Presently, the Puerta de Alcalá is protected as a Historic-Artistic monument and is one of Madrid´s most visited sites.

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