Since the beginning of time, the constant conflicts among human beings forced the development of protection measures, especially as they joined together to form communities. This led to the construction of fortresses and enclosed towns or cities. Therefore, only gates lead in and out of the city, the architectural element of greater prominence in this type of fortresses.
The city of Madrid in Spain was no exception as far as gateways are concerned. It got to have seven main gates at one time or another. Over time, the original gates were replaced and the walled cities disappeared. Currently, a highly recognized gateway is the arch of “Alcala”. In addition to this emblematic gateway of Madrid, during our strolls we encountered the gateways of Toledo and San Vicente.
The gateway to Toledo, as the name implies, opens the southern road to the city of Toledo and the royal road towards Andalusia. It marks the end of Toledo Street and is located in the circular plaza known as “Glorieta de la Puerta de Toledo”. This structure is the result of a 1995 renovation of the original gate initiated under the Napoleon government in 1812. The end of the Peninsular Wars in 1813 delayed the project that the Spanish Crown undertook and ended in 1827. It commemorated the triumphant entry of King Ferdinand VII to Madrid.
To the northwest of the Royal Palace, near the “Manzanares” River, is the Gateway of San Vicente. It is located at the bottom St. Vincent hill, now a main artery in an uphill direction towards the city. Originally, the door was known as Park Gate or the Florida gateway and existed until 1726. It was then replaced with a new arch, adorned with a statue of St. Vincent, hence the acquisition of its populist name of St. Vincent Gateway.
The new gateway was demolished in 1770 in favor of major works that provide new access roads. In 1775, a new gate was built near the “Manzanares” River. The structure was dismantled again in the 1980’s to improve vehicular flow in the area. Finally, a replica of the 1775 gateway was installed. Unlike other gateways, the San Vicente gate looks inward towards the city.