Monday, 16 January 2017

A Walk along Calle de Alcala, Madrid

Calle de Alcalá is one of the 2 main streets in Madrid for tourists; the other is Calle Gran Via (Broadway). A visit to Madrid is incomplete without seeing these 2 streets. And these 2 streets have quite different buildings: Calle Gran Via is a commercial street while Calle de Alcalá is more of a government street (as you'll see in the rest of this article).

Street sign, Calle de Alcala, Madrid, Spain


After the visit to Círculo de Bellas Artes Rooftop Terrace for a panoramic and aerial view of Calle de Alcalá, it's only natural that afterwards, we proceeded to walk this Madrid's main street and looked at it at the ground level. Of course, we didn't walk the entire street of Calle de Alcalá (which is the longest street in Madrid). We only covered the section between the 2 important Madrid squares: Plaza de Cibeles and Puerta del Sol.

Edificio Metropolis, Edificio Grassy, Iglesia de San José Cathedral and Área de Gobierno de Hacienda y Administración Pública (Administration of Government Public Property and Area, Calle de Alcala, Madrid, Spain
Edificio Metropolis, Edificio Grassy, Iglesia de San José Cathedral
and Área de Gobierno de Hacienda y Administración Pública (Administration of Government Public Property and Area).
(Click photo to enlarge)

The above photo gives a panorama of the intersection of Calle de Alcalá and Calle Gran Via (Broadway). The 2 buildings that locates at the head of Calle Gran Via of Metropolis and Grassy Buildings have architectures that are representative of those that are found on Gran Via. They were both built around early 20th century and representative of that style.

I explored Gran Via on another day. Today, we restricted ourselves to only Calle de Alcalá.


Winged Victory, Metropolis Building, Calle de Alcala, Madrid, Spain
Metropolis Building, Calle de Alcala, Madrid, Spain
Top:  The Metropolis.
Left:  Winged Victory on top of the dome.

Metropolis and Glassy Buildings, Calle de Alcala, Madrid, Spain
Another angle of Metropolis (left) and Grassy (right) Buildings.

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Not far from Metropolis building is a neo-classical building that stands out the rest because of its red brick facade, which housed Iglesia de las Calatravas (Church of Calatravas). Bricks weren't used often for public buildings as it was considered inferior construction materials, but the architect of this church had proven that it was a worthy material for important buildings, and silenced the critics.

Iglesia de las Calatravas, Calle de Alcala, Madrid, Spain
Iglesia de las Calatravas

Iglesia de las Calatravas, Calle de Alcala, Madrid, Spain
Iglesia de San José

The one claim to fame to this Church of Calatravas is described in the following sign that Félix Lope de Vega was singing mass in this church in 1614. In case you aren't familiar with Félix Lope de Vega. He's the most important Spanish literary figure, 2nd only to Miguel de Cervantes.

Info sign, Iglesia de las Calatravas, Calle de Alcala, Madrid, Spain

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Bull (Torro) figure, Calle de Alcala, Madrid, Spain
Retail shop seen on Calle de Alcalá.
Anyone who knows about Chinese mythological creature - Bull
Demon King (牛魔王) - would find this figure funny and familiar.
Chinese tourists would find it irresistible not to take a photo with him / it.

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Note the symbol on the bottom left of the following photo. The symbol looks like a mathematical symbol tilde (∼) on top of a symbol for electronic capacitor. But this symbol has nothing to do with science and electronic engineering. It has everything to do with language, specifically Spanish language. This is a logo for Instituto Cervantes (or The Cervantes Institute).

The Cervantes Institute, Calle de Alcala, Madrid, Spain
Instituto Cervantes

Just as China has its Confucian Institute to promote the study of Chinese language and culture abroad, Instituto Cervantes is a Spanish government organization to do the same thing for Spain. Except Cervantes is a Spanish literary figure rather than a philosophical figure like Confucius. Cervantes to Spanish is more similar to Goethe to German. They're the 2 most important literary figures in the 2 cultures of Spain and Germany. Yes, there's a non-profit Geothe Institut that does the same thing for German language and culture. Of course, USA doesn't really need one because she, or i should say he (it's Uncle Sam), has Hollywood and Bob Dylan (Nobel Prize laureate in literature, literally).

The Cervantes Institute, Calle de Alcala, Madrid, Spain

The Cervantes Institute, Calle de Alcala, Madrid, Spain


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Next to the Institute is Palacio Buenavista, and in fact locates at the corner of Plaza de Cibeles. The name Buenavista Palace originated from its previous owner of the Duke of Alba. Today, it's an army headquarter.

Buenavista Palace, Calle de Alcala, Madrid, Spain
Cuartel General del Ejercito (General Army Headquarter)

As it was 26 Dec, we could expect to see Christmas display.

Nativity scene, Buenavista Palace, Calle de Alcala, Madrid, Spain
Nativity scene display on the army ground.
Feliz Navidad = Merry Christmas

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The highlight in this section of our walk is, without a doubt, Plaza de Cibeles.

The Plaza de Cibeles is named after Palacio Cibeles, which was built by an architect named Palacios (surely not hard to remember). This Gothic Revival building was the Spanish Post Office and Telegraph in 1909. Since 2007, it's housed the Madrid City Council.

Cibeles Palace, Calle de Alcala, Madrid, Spain
Palacio Cibeles

Cibeles Palace, Calle de Alcala, Madrid, Spain

Cibeles Palace, Calle de Alcala, Madrid, Spain


The focal point of Plaza de Cibeles is the Cibele Fountain. In fact this fountain depicts the Roman goddess Cybele, who gives its name to this square. And so it should come at no surprise that it predates Palace Cibeles, and it was created in 1782, more than 127 years before Cibele Palace came to the scene. Goddess Cybele is usually depicted with a couple of lions pulling her chariot. Although this is a much slimmer depiction of goddess Cybele. Perhaps lost a lot of weight from riding the chariot.

Cibele Fountain, Calle de Alcala, Madrid, Spain


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Slightly opposite Iglesia de las Calatravas and located at the corner is an attractive building with an equally couple of quadriga (4 Horse chariot) sculptures to boost. This is a BBVA bank building.

Quadriga (four horse chariot), BBVA Building, Calle de Alcala, Madrid, Spain


Quadriga sculptures are popular in Europe. You'll find a number of them scattered around Europe. Perhaps, one of the more famous of such sculpture sits atop Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

Quadriga (four horse chariot), BBVA Building, Calle de Alcala, Madrid, Spain