Welcome to my "Plaza de Oriente" description
page, for photos & videos of this site click --> HERE.
A square between the Royal
Palace and the Opera theater (photo page coming soon)and a stones throw away
from the Jardines
de Sabatini (Sabatini Gardens) that lie just west of the Royal
Palace, the Plaza de Oriente is one of the biggest
in Madrid. The rearing horse and rider statue of king Felipe IV (bronze, from
1640) in the center of the square maintains its difficult equilibrium due to the
engineering skills of none less than Galileo Galilei: the hindquarters are solid
and the front is hollow. The stone statues around the central part of the square
are of "Spanish" kings from before Spain was really Spain. They were
originally intended to go on top of the Palace (where some are located) but were
so heavy that instead many were placed in the square. Some of the statues
display a violence bordering on psychotic, funny on a sunny day but sort of
spooky on a foggy night.
While this square is solidly inside what is now considered Old Madrid, it was
outside the first city walls (Arab, 9th century), included in the
second walls built in the 12th century by the Christians. Back then,
the Plaza del Oriente was part walled gardens, part gully from the stream that
ran along what is now Arenal street; the gully was filled in to create Plaza del
Oriente and Plaza Isabel II (photo page coming soon) and more building space for the growing city. Until
the early 19th century what is now the square was also the site of
palace buildings, torn down under French occupation to create more open spaces.
During the 1990's, a controversial project excavated most of the square to build
an underground parking lot and tunnel for Bailen street. While considerable
pedestrian space was gained, many locals think that too much stone was used (the
place is pretty hot in the summer); others wonder what archeological remains
were destroyed while building the tunnel.
Plaza de Oriente of Madrid - jeremy's practical info
(you can click on the icons to see the line trajectories and a map of the