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The Cibeles Fountain was designed by the

Spanish architect Ventura Rodríguez, and built


between 1777 and 1782. This structure formed
part of Charles III's project for reform during
the Enlightenment in the late 18th century,
which was intended to increase Madrid's status
as a major monumental city on a par with
those of other European countries.

When work began on the remodelling of the


Paseo del Prado in 1782, the fountain was
installed in front of the Buenavista Palace (at
that time the Army Headquarters). The
fountain did not begin operating until 10 years
after its installation.

In 1895 the monument was moved to the


middle of the square, so that the goddess Cibeles was facing towards the first section of the Calle
Alcalá street.

The difficult moments the monument has lived through during its history include the loss of an arm,
her keys and her sceptre in 1931, as well as an attack on one
of her lions during the Spanish Civil War.

The main figure on this marble monument is Cybele, the


Phrygian goddess of fertility, the work of the sculptor
Francisco Gutiérrez. The goddess is mounted on a chariot set
on a rock which rises from the middle of the fountain. She
carries a sceptre and a key in her hands, and on the
pedestal is a sculpted figurehead which spits water over the lions
into the basin, plus a frog and a serpent which generally go unnoticed.

Two lions (Hippomenes and Atalanta), the work of the


French sculptor Roberto Michel, draw the chariot.

The whole sculpture has a total diameter of 32 metres


and a height of 8 metres.

In the mid-20th century the fountain took on a more


artistic appearance with the addition of spouts and
various jets forming waterfalls, and coloured lighting
which thrilled the public of Madrid. In the upper basin
there are two vertical spouts which project upwards to
a height of 5 m, together with a series of oblique jets
which send water outwards from the goddess.

Rafa Navas Marcos González

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