Plaza de Oriente is located on the east side of the Royal Palace, between the Palace and the Royal Theater. In the center of the square we see a large bronze statue of King Philip IV on his horse (see my separate review) The statue is designed after a painting of Velaquez. Around this statue a lot of trees and formal gardens have been constructed and two rows of statues of Spanish Kings are lined up. There are 44 statues in total. Interesting is that they were initially designed to be installed on top of the Palace, but King Charles III refused this. In his opinion the statues were to heavy and could easily fall of. The architects agreed and eventually they ended up on the ground level. A bit hidden behind the trees on the north side of the plaza, you see the Monumento al Cabo Noval. This is a statue of Louis Noval Ferrao, a hero soldier who died in the Moroccan campaign in 1909, was erected by the woman of Spain in 1912. Some call this part of the park the Jardines del Cabo Noval.
The designer of the Royal Palace, Juan Batista Sachetti, planned to built a large square in front of the Palace in the 18th century. But it was King Joseph I (Napoleons brother) who started with the construction of the square. A lot of houses, a church and the royal library were demolished to clear the area. King Ferdinand VII continued the work and instructed to built the Royal Theatre. It took until 1855 when the square and the Royal Theatre were finished.
Nowadays the square is one of the most peaceful places of Madrid. It is a pedestrian zone where you can relax and escape hectic life for a while. At the outside of the square, at the entrance of the Theatre, there are many cafes with terraces where you can enjoy the square and see all the people go by, with a marvelous view of the Royal Palace in the background.
Interesting to mention is that there is sometimes confusion about the location of the square. It is located in the west of Madrid, while it name suggest that it is located in the east. However, it is located at the east of the Royal Palace and this is why it is called Plaza de Oriente. Please do visit this splendid square and take your time to absorb all of its wonderful aspects.
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