Plaza de Oriente, Madrid Guide
The Plaza de Oriente is one of the most pleasant and scenic open area of Madrid. The Plaza de Oriente is located to the west of the city and lies between the imposing Palacio Real de Madrid and the Teatro Real (The National Theatre). Statues of ancient kings of Spain surround the beautifully maintained gardens of The Plaza de Oriente while the central garden is dominated by the unusual bronze Statue of Philip IV, whose horse is rearing up as if in a battle charge.
Along the main boulevard, that runs the length of the Palace, street performs woo the crowds and Madrid artist sell their creations. The Plaza de Oriente has the best backdrop possible, the ornate the Palacio Real de Madrid. The Plaza de Oriente is rightly one of Madrid’s top tourist destinations and is a fantastic area to explore especially during the heat of summer. Quite predicable, The Plaza de Oriente translated into English means Square of the Orient. Though the name may seem rather peculiar as the plaza is on the western edge of Madrid, but the name is related to the position of the square in comparison to the Palace and not Madrid. The main design of the Plaza grounds focuses around three district gardens; the Cabo Noval Gardens, the Lepanto Gardens and the Central Gardens.
The Plaza de Oriente which tourists are able to view originates from 1844 during the reign of Queen Isabel II. She “wished beautiful grounds both in front and behind of her royal palace” and the design was by Pascual Colomer. Statues were brought in from around the city, the bronze Statue of Philip IV was moved from Parque del Retiro and placed as the central monument of the grounds.
The ground work for the Plaza de Oriente had been begun during the previous reign ,of King Joseph Bonaparte who transformed much of Madrid; constructing wide boulevards and open squares while demolishing monasteries and seedy poor areas. The Plaza de Oriente was no exception, prior to Joseph Bonaparte there were 57 houses the Royal Library and an important church and monastery complex. This was all cleared to make way for a planned Plaza and boulevard which was to stretch the length of Madrid. Joseph Bonaparte reign between 1808 to 1813 and was not long enough to construct his entire vision but left a suitable canvas for Queen Isabel II to expand on.
The carefully maintained central grounds of the central Gardens are boarded by white limestone statues of ancient Spanish kings, known as the Gothic Kings Statues. On closer inspection the Gothic Kings Statues appear to be sculpted to a rather poor quality; eyes are badly carved and much of the fine detail is lacking, surprising for the grounds of the royal palace of Spain. The reason for this poor craftsmanship is that the Gothic Kings Statues were not intended to be positioned in the gardens; they were to be placed on top of the palace roof. The Palace is entirely constructed on stone and bricks and the added weight of the statues was feared to be too much for the lower walls so the statues were removed from the final design and placed in the palace grounds.
Tourist Information for the Plaza de Oriented
The Plaza de Oriente is best reached by metro with the closest metro station being Opera. Buses which pass the Plaza de Oriente include numbers 3, 15 and 20 and the plaza is only a very short walk from Plaza de España one of the main shopping hubs of Madrid.