The Cibeles Fountain, created in 1782 and situated in its current location since 1895, has ended up lending its name to one of the most emblematic squares of Madrid. It has also become a symbol of the capital.
The Fountain depicts the Roman goddess of the same name (Cybele in English), symbol of the Earth, agriculture, and fertility, atop a chariot drawn by lions. It is located in the centre of the Plaza de Cibeles and is surrounded by the grand buildings of the Buenavista Palace (the Army’s General Headquarters), the Linares Palace (Casa de América), the Palace of Communications (previously the Post Office headquarters and currently the Mayor of Madrid’s Office) and the Bank of Spain. The goddess and the lions were sculpted in purple marble from the town of Montesclaros (Toledo), and the rest in stone from Redueña, an area 32 miles to the north of Madrid, close to the La Cabrera mountain range.
Francisco Gutiérrez sculpted the main figure, the goddess Cybele. The two lions, sculpted by French sculptor Roberto Michel, pull the chariot. The lions represent the mythological characters Hippomenes and Atalanta.
The Fountain was not only an artistic monument. From its beginnings, it was also very useful to the citizens of Madrid. It had two standpipes that were in operation until 1862. One pipe provided water for the official water carriers, usually Asturians and Galicians, who carried water to the houses. The other was for the general public. Horses drank from the basin.