Spanish version

Plaza de Oriente

Plaza de OrienteIn the XVIII century Sachetti had already planned to build a big square in front of the Statue of Felipe IV and Royal Theater Royal Palace, but it was not until Jose I (Napoleon´s brother) became king that they began to demolish buildings in order to make room for the square. The buildings that were there had been built without any planning and therefore formed a mixture of irregular streets. It is also said that in some of these buildings lived "not very decent" women. The idea was to make a broad avenue connecting the Palace with the Puerta del Sol and on to with the Puerta de Alcala. When Fernando VII returned to Spain he decided to build a theater in front of the Palace, so  the idea of the broad avenue disappeared. But it was not until the time of Isabel II that its current design was finished, a semicircular square opened out towards the Palace. On the opposite side, in the center, they built the Royal Theater. It was begun in 1818. The architect was Antonio Lopez Aguado, but eventually only the façade of the Plaza de Isabel II followed his designs. Political Statue of Felipe IVevents and a lack of money postponed the construction and the theater was not finished until 1850, during the reign ofRoyal Palace Isabel II.
The statues that you can see now in the Plaza de Oriente were orignally designed to be put on top of the Palace. The idea was to have a statue of each Spanish king and queen. The statues were all made but finally distributed among the Plaza de Oriente, the Retiro Park and some other Spanish cities.
In the middle of the Plaza is the statue of Felipe IV. Isabel II decided to place the statue there and made her architects build the rest of the monument.

The statue itself was made by Pietro Tacca in 1640, based on some paintings of the monarch by Velazquez. Galileo Galilei helped him design the statue, as the scultor wanted the horse´s two frontlegs to be raised off the ground which could have made the statue fall over. Galileo´s solution was to make the back part solid and the front part hollow.
First the statue was placed in one of the squares of the Buen Retiro Palace and afterwards in front of the old Alcazar.

Statue dedicated to Luis NovalIn a little garden, part of the Plaza de Oriente, is a monument dedicated to the soldier LuisCafe de Oriente Noval. He fought in the Moroccan War in 1909 and died there. This statue was made by Mariano Benlliure and was paid with money collected by women. It was finished in 1912.

On the right of the Royal Theater are a series of cafes, the most popular is the Cafe de Oriente, a wonderful place to have a late drink on summer nights or a coffee any afternoon.

@Copyright 2008, 2009 Mª Dolores Diehl Busch. All rights reserved.
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