Right in the heart of Madrid, on the border of three districts and at a point where three of the city's main roads meet, Plaza de Cibeles is an unexpected pearl. For those of you who are prone to wandering around cities, it’s quite likely you’ll end up passing through here anyway; for those of you who aren’t, it’s well worth making the trip to have a look around.
On one side, you'll notice a white, grandiose palace with towers that seem straight out of a fairytale. This is the Palacio de Cibeles, also known as the Palacio de Comunicaciones. The palace started life as the headquarters of the postal service at the beginning of the 20th century and, since 2007, it has served as Madrid's city hall.
Over on the other side of the plaza stands the Palacio de Buenavista, surrounded by a lush garden. Once the residence of the Duchess of Alba, it became the War Ministry midway through the 19th century, and then the Spanish Army headquarters midway through the 20th.
One building it would be hard to miss in the square is the Banco de España. It is enormous; its three storeys stretch themselves out over an entire block.
If you cast your gaze across the square again, you’ll see the Palacio de Linares, constructed in 1900 in the neo-Baroque style as a private mansion. It now accommodates the Casa de América, an organisation that fosters cultural relations between Spain and the Americas. On entering the building you’ll find exhibitions and a museum, as well as a bookshop and restaurant.
The centrepiece is the Fuente de Cibeles, a fountain depicting Cybele, the Roman goddess of fertility, mounted on a chariot drawn by lions. Designed by Ventura Rodriguez for a commission by King Carlos III in the late 18th century, the feature measures 32 metres across and 8 metres in height.
The plaza is located at the point where Paseo del Prado, Calle de Alcalá and Paseo de la Castellana all intersect. It’s easy to get here on foot from Puerta de Alcalá or the Prado Museum, as well as from the Bando de España metro station.
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