The Puerta de Alcalá already has its diagnosis. And the main conclusion is that this emblematic monument of the capital requires “immediate intervention” to preserve it. Work that will be spread over a year, which should begin within a month and for which an investment of just under three million euros will be necessary.
“This work told us that although the door is structurally sound, it requires immediate intervention for its conversation. The board He will have a special emergency contract tomorrow”, said the delegate for Culture, Tourism and Sports, Andrea Levy.
As you remember this morning Luis Lafuente, general director of heritage of the town hall, the last great performance took place 30 years ago, in 1992. “Since the beginning of the legislature, we were aware of the need for a detailed study and then taking the corresponding decisions. It was a priority.”
As studies have revealed, the Puerta de Alcalá is in a “situation of greater deterioration than expected”. Therefore, the dismantling of the current scaffolding located on the monument is postponed, “since it is an element that acts in a double way, ensuring both the safety and the protection of the monument itself”.
The reports mainly highlight three problems. The first, that the two types of stone that make up the monument show signs of deterioration: the granite of the facade and the cornice is sandblasted and the limestone of Colmenar de Oreja (which makes up the sculptural groups and some reliefs) presents planes of mechanical weakness.
The next item, indicates a “high degree of corrosion” of the rods, clips and metal reinforcements sculptures. Some elements which, in some cases, are original from the date of construction, and which in others have been incorporated in later restorations (for example, in 1860).
Finally, the third problem has its origin in the lead cover: it is not ventilated and causes constant humidity in the materials which serve as a support, being in turn the carbonated metal on its internal face.
“The first pathologies were detected, the causes and possible solutions were seen, and now the appropriate procedures are being studied so that it can survive centuries,” he said during the presentation of the study. . Marta Hernandez Azcutia, Deputy Director General of the Cultural Heritage Institute of Spain.
Ana Laborde, conservator-restorer of the Cultural Heritage Institute, said the upper part of the complex was “very compromised”, as the technicians of the town hall had advanced. The first action was to carry out a documentary survey to obtain more information on the materials and execution techniques of the Door. A three-dimensional scan of the monument was carried out, the auxiliary means were installed and a detailed registration of each element was made. Thus, in addition to natural damage, impacts from cannonballs and other projectiles were observed. “It is located in an urban environment, in a polluted environment. Can we avoid it? No, the Gate is not a museum piece. But we can take care of her and pamper her,” Laborde stressed.
Overall, the intervention on the Puerta de Alcalá will add a total of ten actions: the mechanical support of the sculptural groups; the crimping of parts with the risk of detachment; the removal of the lead cover and the fillings necessary to reach the firm base; removal of loose mortars or mortars in poor condition; removal of rusty metal elements, staples and other additions; restoration by mechanical sewing, sealed with lime mortar and reintegration of the necessary elements; dismantling of those sculptural groups in which the work of all the elements cannot be carried out, so that the stone can be restored and the assembly with new structural elements; sealed with mortar and lime; restoration of facades by cleaning, consolidation and waterproofing; and, finally, the archaeological control and the documentary study of all the actions that require it.
Elsa Soria, conservator-restorer at Titano Estudio, the company in charge of the preliminary studies. “The first intervention on the Gate dates from 1869, with the removal of the shutters, the demolition of the fence and the removal of the vegetation. The sculpture of Justice has been damaged, she has lost her arms and her head”, he began. Thus, the thermographic analysis of the monument made it possible to observe the areas of the stone that suffer the most from the ‘humidity.
Despite all the above, Luis Lafuente believes that all of these issues can be resolved. “The Puerta de Alcalá requires immediate, deep and comprehensive action. It will take whatever it takes to restore it.” The works will be carried out by the winning company Fernández Molina Obras y Servicios. And during these, the traffic flows in the area will be studied and to what extent they can harm at the monument. “Traffic is one more risk of deterioration,” said Ana Laborde. But not the only one. “The pigeon is very aggressive, the organic elements cause plant elements to grow which are also aggressive for the monument… It’s not just the contamination. What we have to do with the Gate is to take care of it, maintain it and monitor it,” concluded Blanca Mora, architect-restorer and head of the Historical Heritage and Restoration Service.