I have been to Madrid several times now. And every time I visit, I find myself wandering the city and gawking at all the amazing architecture surrounding me. I’m surprised I haven’t rammed straight into someone yet – I spend most of my time gazing upward, marveling at the ornate sculptures that adorn the facades of the buildings and the intricate doorways.
The photo above is of a doorway into the History Museum of Madrid, currently closed due to renovations. This building was formerly the Royal Hospice for the Poor, built in the 18th-century in the Castilian Baroque style by architect Pedro de Ribera.
The photo above is of the Cybele Palace, built in 1909 by Antonio Palacios as the headquarters of the postal service. Quite an impressive post office! In 2007, this landmark became the Madrid City Hall. In the foreground is the Cibeles Fountain – named after Cybele, a goddess who had a significant cult in Rome and is one of Madrid’s most important symbols. This fountain depicts the goddess sitting on a chariot pulled by two lions. It was built in the reign of Charles III and designed between 1777 and 1782. The goddess and chariot are the work of Francisco Gutiérrez and the lions by Roberto Michel. The fountain originally stood elsewhere and was moved to its present location in the late 19th century.
This photo depicts the Puerta de Alcalá, designed by Italian architect, Francisco Sabatini, and completed in 1769. This is not the original gate, however. The original Puerta de Alcalá, which stood nearby, was built in 1599 to welcome doña Margarita de Austria, the wife of King Felipe III. When Carlos III came to the throne of Spain in 1759, he felt that this gate was not fancy enough for royalty. So he had it demolished in 1764 and commissioned Sabatini to design this new gate.
Above is the Metropolis Building (Edificio Metrópolis), an office building at the corner of Calle de Alcalá and Gran Via. Inaugurated in 1911, it was designed by Jules and Raymond Février in the French Beaux-Arts style, which was quite unusual at the time. Placed above the columns are 4 statues representing Mining, Agriculture, Industry and Commerce. The rounded tower is covered with 30,000 leaves of 24 carat gold!
Next to the Metropolis Building is the Edificio Grassy – built between 1916 and 1917 by the architect Eladio Laredo. Since 1952 it hosts the upscale Grassy Jeweler’s and the facade of the building is well known for its illuminated advertisements about different brands of watches. Currently the facade is occupied by a Rolex sign.
All these decorations and embellishments are not necessary – the buildings would stand up just fine without them. But I am certainly glad the Spanish decided to add a touch of flare to their fine city!