The monumental Cibeles Fountain, better known as La Cibeles, was originally stood outside the Prado Museum, facing the Fountain of Neptune and provided water to the local population. It is said that the source of this original fountain actually goes back to the time, when Madrid was still a Moorish settlement and used to be located at the start of Paseo de Recoletos until 1895, when the Council moved it to its present site, at the centre of the Plaza de Cibeles or Cibeles Square, which is a famous square and a prominent place in the heart of Madrid. Today, the neo-classical Cibeles Fountain, along with the marble statues and sculptures and the Cybele Palace, have become an iconic symbol of the city.
The 8 metres tall and 32 m in diameter fountain is surrounded by four prominent buildings of the city, namely Banco de España, a large, dignified building whose construction work started in 1884, the Palacio de Buenavista, constructed in 1777 and currently houses the Spanish Army's headquarters, the Palacio de Linares, constructed in 1877 and presently Casa de América and the Cybele Palace or the City Hall. Today, the buildings surrounding the plaza adjoin three districts of Madrid, namely the centre, Retiro and Salamanca.
The Cibeles Fountain located in the middle of the square and named after the Phrygian goddess with the same name, was designed by Spanish architect Ventura Rodríguez and was constructed during the reign of King Charles III between 1777 and 1782.
The beautiful fountain displays the goddess Cybele, the Greek goddess of fertility and nature sitting on a wagon pulled by two lions, holding a sceptre and the keys to the city. The wild lions attached to the carriage symbolize the power of nature or of the goddess.
While the image was inspired by an Ancient Greek myth, it was constructed by a team of sculptors. The goddess was designed by Francisco Gutierrez, who sculptured the wheels of the chariot. Roberto Michel did the lions and Miguel Jimenez was left to add details to the final structure.
The fountain, which was moved to the centre of the square in the late 19th century, plays an important role in the celebrations of the Real Madrid football club, who has unofficially adopted the fountain. It is used as a meeting point for its fans and often for the players, who gather on the plaza to celebrate triumphs, hanging a flag of the club around the Cybele statue.