Madrid, Puerta de Alcata

This grand gate is entirely ceremonial. In fact, it stands at the center of a traffic circle, and only pedestrians who choose to do so can pass beneath its portals. There are no defensive aspects to its design. Instead, it has been lavishly decorated with sculpture.

The provision of five portals is a bit over the top. Oddly, the two outer portals are not arched but headed by massive lintels. This may have been done for the sole purpose of providing a large flat surface upon which to place the large decorative stonework that can be seen.

I would guess that this gate was only built in the second half of the 19th century, by which time gates had ceased to play any role in the defense of cities. A large sum was invested by the city for purely ceremonious and decorative purposes. Why do we so rarely make such investments today?

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