Plaza de Cibeles in Madrid

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The Plaza de Cibeles is a square with a neo-classical complex of marble sculptures with fountains that has become an iconic symbol for the city of Madrid.

Cibeles Fountain

The fountain of Cibeles is found in the part of Madrid commonly called the Paseo de Recoletos. This fountain, named after Cybele (or Ceres), Roman goddess of fertility, is seen as one of Madrid's most important symbols. The Cibeles fountain depicts the goddess, sitting on a chariot pulled by two lions. The fountain was built in the reign of Charles III and designed by Ventura Rodríguez between 1777 and 1782. The goddess and chariot are the work of Francisco Gutiérrez and the lions by Roberto Michel. The fountain originally stood next to the Buenavista Palace, and was moved to its present location in the middle of the square in the late 19th century. Up until the 19th century both the fountain of Neptune and Cibeles looked directly at each other, until the city council decided to turn them round to face towards the centre of the city.

On one side of the fountain of Cibeles, the Paseo de Recoletos starts, heading north to link up with the Paseo de la Castellana. On the other side, the Paseo del Prado begins and heads off south, towards the fountain of Neptune, in the Plaza de Cánovas del Castillo, and on until Atocha. Calle de Alcalá is the street which intersects the fountain from east to west. Calle de Alcalá starts in the Puerta del Sol and continues on to the outskirs of Madrid.

The fountain of Cibeles has been adopted by the football club Real Madrid, whose fans use the area to celebrate its triumphs in competitions such as La Liga, the Champions League or the Copa del Rey. A flag of Real Madrid is usually wrapped around the Cibeles statue.

Cibeles Palace

The most prominent of the buildings at the Plaza de Cibeles is the Cibeles Palace (formerly named Communications Palace). The cathedral-like landmark was built in 1909 by Antonio Palacios as the headquarters of the postal service. This impressive building was home to the Postal and Telegraphic Museum until 2007 when the landmark building became the Madrid City Hall (Ayuntamiento de Madrid).

Banco de España

Across the Paseo de Prado from city hall is the Bank of Spain is found and opposite to the General Staff Headquarters of the Spanish Army. The oldest part of the enormous building, bordering the Cibeles square, was built between 1882 and 1891. It was later expanded in 1936 and again in 1975. Inside, 30m below the surface is an area where the central bank stores its gold. Before modern security was installed, the room was flooded in case of danger.

Linares Palace

Opposite the Bank of Spain is the Linares Palacio. The baroque palace was built in 1873 by a rich banker, José de Murga. A century later, the building had fallen into disrepair but in 1992 it was completely renovated. It currently houses the Casa de América, a cultural center and art gallery focused mostly on Latin American arts. The building is said to be haunted by the spirits of its first owner, who made his fortune in the new world.

Buenavista Palace

Built in 1777 by the Duchess of Alba with designs of Pedro de Arnal. Surrunded by a French style garden by Ventura Rodríguez. Facing Cibeles Palace is the Buenavista Palace, headquarters of the Spanish Army. The Crown owned it after the death of the Duchess of Alba, and became War Ministry in 1847 until 1939 when it was ceded to the Spanish Army to host its Headquarters.

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