The Almohads built a city wall in the 12th century. During the reign of Alfonso X (1252 – 1284), this arch was created. It was named Puerta del Mar (Sea Gate) because it was a main entrance into the city from the port. In 1587, a painting by Antonio Franco of the Virgin of Pópulo was placed above the portal. In 1596, the religious image was defaced with bullets by Anglo-Dutch soldiers. A few years later, a Pópulo chapel was constructed above the arch. In 1621, construction began nearby on the replacement Royal Chapel of Our Lady of Pópulo. Yet the arch maintained the name Arco del Pópulo.