La Puerta de Europa, Paseo de la Castellana, 189 (at the Plaza de Castilla) -Metro stop: Castilla

Photo: June 9, 1998
La Puerta de Europa

You can get to La Puerta de Europa either by Metro as noted above or by taking Bus #27 that runs up and down the paseos. You get off at the end of the line at the bus station just beyond the leaning towers. If you come in from afar on a train from the north, you will get off the train at the Chamartín Station only a few steps from these singular towers.

The Paseo de la Castellana runs beneath the Plaza de Castilla. I stood as far to the south at the ground level as I could to take the above picture. Designed by an American architectural firm, the towers were constructed for the Kuwait Investment Office between 1992 and 1995. The construction time was protracted because a scandal arose around Javier de la Rosa the man in charge of the Madrid branch of the company. The Kuwait Investment Office no longer owns the towers, and the original name Torres KIO long ago was changed to La Puerta de Europa. Regarding Javier de la Rosa, I saw an article in El País, an important Madrid newspaper, about this case as late as the year 2000!

That white triangular block pyramid with the statue of a man before it is a memorial to José Calvo Sotelo, right-wing Spanish politician. It was the assassination of a Lieutenant Castilla followed by the revenge-killing of Calvo Sotelo that triggered the start of hostilities of the Spanish Civil War in 1936.

Getting back to the building, they are each 27 stories (115 meters) high. You will note a vertical band on the outside of each tower starting on one side of the building at ground level and ending on the other side of the building at the top. This is the line of the elevators. I entered the ground floor of the tower to the left. There was nothing to be seen except the elevators and a large desk staffed by two attractive young ladies whose job it was to screen people entering the building. Only the ones there on official business above got passes to go through the turnstiles and enter one of the six elevators for people. This was very heavy security then: it is probably even tighter today.

I joked with the ladies behind the desk suggesting that they were running a mission control for space shots! They enjoyed the joke.

The buildings are leaning about as much as is possible (14.3° to be exact). As long as you can drop a plumb bob from some point on the roof along the side of the building and have it still hang over the base at ground level, the building will be stable. In this case, I'm sure that the building is attached securely to its foundations which encompass a three-level parking garage below it. On the roofs are heliports.

For a complete rundown on these spectacular towers go to Puerta de Europa in Wikipedia.