Cibeles curiosities

Fountain of Cibeles

Introduce you curiosities of Cibeles, a popular Madrid fountain, means going back centuries past. It was then that projects were launched to beautify the city of Madrid from the aesthetic perspective of neoclassicism.

Cybele was, in Greek mythology, the mother of the gods, but also a kind of Goddess of the earth. And since ancient times she was represented in a chariot pulled by lions as a symbol of the superiority of nature (however, the animals embody two other mythological personalities: hypomenes y Atalanta). Already in Roman times, it became Sale o Magna mater (Great Mother), which meant, in practice, only a change of name, since its symbolism continued to be similar. Having made this necessary introduction, we are going to show you some of the curiosities of Cibeles.

Curiosities of its construction

Cibeles lions

Detail of the lions of the fountain

Construction of the Cibeles fountain began in 1777 as one of the elements that would beautify the surroundings of the Meadow of the Jerónimos, current area of Paseo del Prado. In the same project, the Museum of Natural Sciences (which today is, precisely, the Prado), The Royal Botanical Garden and several more green spaces.

Ten thousand kilograms of cardinal marble from two quarries. These were the montesclaros in Toledo and Redueña in Madrid. Likewise, the classicist spirit of the moment projected the construction of two other fountains with mythological motifs, which would be those of Neptune and Apollo. All that area, already completed, was known among the people of Madrid as Prado Hall, because it was where they would go for a walk and have a social life.

However, according to another theory, the Cibeles fountain was destined to decorate the gardens of La Granja de San Ildefonso, in Segovia. In any case, he settled in what was then called Madrid Square, current Plaza de Cibeles, in 1782, although it did not work until ten years later.

Change of location

The CIbeles from above

Aerial view of the Cibeles fountain

Precisely, one of the curiosities of the Cibeles is that, in principle, it was not in the center of the square, but next to the Buenavista Palace. It was in 1895 when it was moved to that part of the street, while other elements were added to it. This is the case of the sculptural group in the front part and a platform with four steps three meters high.

But also the figures of a bear and a dragon were removed, as well as the spout itself through which the water came out. Because the fountain also had a practical utility: it was the place where the water carriers and the residents of the area went to fill their tanks. By the way, this modernization process raised a important controversy in his time between Town hall and Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando.

However, as the people of Madrid continued to need water, another small fountain was built in the corner of the square, specifically in the Post Office. It was soon called the fountain and it became very popular, so much so that a song was dedicated to it that said "water from Fuentecilla, the best that Madrid drinks...".

Its creators and a legend

Bank of Spain

The Bank of Spain, in the Plaza de Cibeles

Also part of the curiosities of Cibeles are the vicissitudes that its builders had to face and the legends associated with it. Precisely one of these says that, in the event that an attempt is made to rob the Gold Chamber of the Bank of Spain, which faces the square, the rooms would be sealed and flooded with water from the Cibeles fountain.

As for the artists who shaped this monument, its design was carried out by the great architect Ventura Rodríguez. For its part, the figure of the goddess was the work of the sculptor Francisco Gutierrez, while the lions are due to the French Robert Michael. As for the valances of the carriage, they are of Miguel Jimenez, who received 8400 reais for his work.

Already in 1791, Juan de Villanueva commissioned Alfonso Bergaz the figures of the bear and the dragon that would later be withdrawn. Both had bronze pipes in their mouths from which water came out. By the way, this came from a water voyage or underground gallery from Muslim times that brought it and healing properties were attributed to it. Later, two putti created by Miguel Angel Trilles y Antonio Parera. They also put more water fountains forming waterfalls and colored lighting that embellished the monument.

The "Pretty Covered"

The snowy Cibeles

The snow covered fountain

During the Civil War, the authorities covered the Cibeles fountain with earthen bags to protect it from bombing. For this reason, the always ingenious people of Madrid baptized her as "the Linda Covered". In fact, it is located in a nerve center of the city. Each of the corners of its square belongs to a different neighborhood and streets as important as that of Alcalá and the Paseo del Prado.

It is also surrounded by four monumental buildings in Madrid. It is about the aforementioned Bank of Spain and Palaces of Linares, Telecommunications and Buenavista. The latter, headquarters of the Army Headquarters, is an eighteenth-century construction with French-style gardens due to the aforementioned Ventura Rodríguez.

For its part, Telecommunications or Cibeles it is a marvel of eclectic style that includes modernist, plateresque and baroque elements. It was built at the beginning of the XNUMXth century following the project of Joaquin Otamendi y Antonio Palacios. We advise you not to miss its magnificent lobby and, above all, to go up to the spectacular gazebo that crowns it and offers you wonderful views of the center of Madrid.

As to linares palace It is a neo-baroque jewel built at the end of the XNUMXth century. Its design is due to the French architect Adolf Ombrecht, responsible in turn for other lavish stately homes such as the palace of the Marquis of Portugalete. And it also keeps numerous legends.

Football celebrations, one of the great curiosities of Cibeles

Celebration in Cibeles

Madrid celebration in Cibeles

You probably know that the font is used by fans of the Real Madrid to celebrate their sporting victories. Instead, another club in the city, the Athletic, does it in Neptune's. However, this tradition was not always so.

Until 1991, both teams had Cibeles as the setting for their celebrations. However, that year they met in the final of the Cup so the Atlético fans decided to change theirs by moving it to the nearby Plaza de Neptuno to differentiate themselves from their Merengue namesakes.

Aftershocks and disappearances

Cibeles at night

The illuminated fountain at night

Maybe you don't know that the Cibeles fountain has an exact replica in Mexico City. It was donated by the community of Spaniards residing in the Aztec country and inaugurated in 1980 with the presence of the then mayor of Madrid. Enrique Tierno Galvan. But she is not the only one. In the nearby village of Getafe there is another smaller baptized as the cibelinaalthough it is not exact. It looks more like the one installed in the distance Pekin, capital of the People's Republic of China.


Cibeles and Palace of Telecommunications

View of the Cibeles fountain and the Palace of Telecommunications

On the other hand, as we told you, the monument has undergone several reforms. And, among the curiosities of Cibeles are the disappearance of some of the elements that were removed in those works. For example, at the end of the XNUMXth century, it was placed a gate to protect it, which would be withdrawn with the reform at the end of the XNUMXth century. But no one knew where the grating had gone. Until it was discovered that it had been used to surround the headquarters of the bugle and drum band of the Municipal Police of Madrid, in the French Bridge.

Something similar happened first with bear figure which we have already mentioned. When she was removed from the monumental complex, she disappeared without the people of Madrid knowing her whereabouts. Finally, it was discovered that he was adorning one of the walks of the Retiro Menagerie. With the bear, the main pipe was removed, and the track was also lost. In his case, he appeared in the gardens of the Casa de Cisneros, located in Madrid town square.

Currently, the bear is in the gardens of the Museum of the Origins of Madrid, together with the tritons and nereids that were in other sources of the capital, specifically in the fountains of the Paseo del Prado. By the way, we advise you to visit this museum, opened in the year 2000 and located in the House of San Isidro from the Plaza de San Andrés, because it is very interesting.

Among his pieces stands out the so-called Miracle Well because, according to legend, the son of San Isidro fell into it without hurting himself. More realistic are the reconstruction of the XNUMXth century chapel consecrated to the holy and precious renaissance courtyard of the XVI. And, next to them, you can see almost two thousand archaeological pieces that go from the Paleolithic to the Arab Madrid.

In conclusion, we have shown you some curiosities of Cibeles, popular source of Madrid with more than two hundred years of history. But we can't resist telling you one more. As with other great monuments, the creator of this one included a little mischief. In one part of it there a small carved frog. If you want to play, go ahead and try to find it.

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