7 - Buenavista
Palace: on Alcala Street on the corner of Cibeles Square stands on the
old Vaguada del Abroñigal Bajo. It was built by Juan Pedro Arnal for the
Dukes of Alba in 1777 and is an excellent example of Madrid palace architecture
from the second half of the century 18th, when the city moved beyond the wall.
At the same time, it is an example of what the Prado Walk must have been like
when it was lined with the palaces of the Madrid nobility.
8 - Alcala Gate:
it stands on Independence Square and is a triumphal arch to enter into the
City. It became the principal access way to Madrid by desire of Charles III. It
was built by Sabatini, between 1774 and 1778 and decorated with sculptures by
Francisco Gutierrez and Roberto Michel. Noteworthy is the fact that two sides of
the arch were designed differently, with columns on the outside and mainly
pillars on the inside.
9 - The Prado Salon
(the first section of the Prado Walk): It is a paradigm of what the
enlightened reforms in urban development were meant to be. It lay on the eastern
edge of what then was the City of Madrid, on the Old Prado or Prado of Saint
Jerome and it was built by the engineer Jose Hermosilla, between 1775 and 1782.
This type of "walk" in the shape
of a racetrack had two exedras on both ends to be used for recreation by the
Court. The "walk" as a whole was the transition from the palace area
of the Retiro to the city and an extension of the previous one. The whole "walk"
was divided by fountains which have been moved from their original site today
and are placed differently.
It is a cosmogonic allegory with the obvious
intention of exalting the figure of the monarch, identified with Apollo, the
protector of the Arts, the same as Charles III. All the fountains along the "walk"
were designed by Ventura Rodriguez and sculpted by different artists between
1780 and 1782, with the exception of Apollo, which is date later. They were put
into position between 1795 and 1800.
- The Cibeles
Fountain: a representation of the Earth, sculpted by Francisco Gutierrez
and Roberto Michel.
- The Apollo and Four
Seasons Fountains: It represents the sun and in fact the monarch. It was
built by Giraldo Bergarz and Manuel Alvarez.
The Neptuno Fountain: a representation of water, made by Juan Pascual
Mena and Jose Arias.
10 - Prado Museum:
(second section of the Prado Walk): This second part of the "walk",
within the enlightened programma meant for science, has its centre piece in the
building that was built to house the Cabinet of Natural Science. It was built by
Juan Villanueva, between 1785 and 1811 andwas inaugurated in 1819 as the
Villanueva structured the building dividing
it into three sections linked by galleries. Using to perfection the repertoire
of classical architecture, where the column is the principal element, the main
section has the plan of a basilica, to emphasize the idea of the building as a "temple
11 - The Botanic
Garden: It was laid out by Juan Villanueva in 1781 and was part of the
enlightened programma to transform the lower valley known as Vaguada del Abroñigal
into the enlightened city promoted by Charles III.
12 - Astronomical
Observatory: It is located on the Saint Blas hill , inside the Retiro,
and is another of the buildings designed for science in this area. Its
construction was put into the hands of Juan Villanueva. Although the project was
designed in the reign of Charles III, the construction of the Observatory did
not begin until 1790. It was interrupted by the Independence War and was
definitively finished in 1845.
13 - Saint Charles
Hospital (Queen Sofia Art Centre. Located at 52, Saint Isabel Street on the
corner of the Atocha Circus): The initial project dates from the times of
Ferdinand VI and was carried out by Jose Hermosilla. When Charles III came to
the throne, he asked Francisco Sabatini for a new project.
The Italian architect prepared a huge
project, larger in size than the Royal Palace. Although the general layout of
the building is baroque, it is formally a neo-classical building. Of the five
inner courts of the original project, only one was carried out and finished in
1781 because of financial reasons.
14 - The Artichoke
Fountain: It is in the centre of Atocha Circus, at the end of the Prado
complex and faces Atocha Gate. As many others, it was designed by Ventura
Rodriguez and sculpted by Bergaz and Antonio Primo. Today's fountain is a bronze
copy of the original, which was moved to the Retiro at the end of the last
century and stands next to the large artificial lake.
Copyright © 1998 - 1999
by JLL & JRP
All rights reserved.