The true history of La Cibeles

The true history of La Cibeles

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Apart from being one of the most representative monuments in Madrid, the Cibeles Fountain is a symbol of Spanish history. A work of art from the 18th century it is well known throughout the world as the place where Real Madrid football club celebrate their victories.

However, what is actually behind this impressive lady with the mythological name? What significance do the multiple figures that accompany her in the chariot have? What was the historic function? If you have chosen a Petit Palace hotel in Madrid to enjoy a few free days in the capital, make sure you add to your visit a walk though the domain of the Phrygia goddess because thanks to her you will learn a great deal about the history of our capital. 

Guarded by the Army Headquarters (Buenavista Palace), America House (Linares Palace), the Communications Palace and the impressive Bank of Spain, the history of La Cibeles, dates back from the middle of the 18th century, when the architect, Ventura Rodriquez first started the designs on paper. From pencil sketches this fertility goddess took shape from the hands of various artists.

Also while Francisco Gutierrez sculpted the goddess and the wheels of her chariot, the Frenchman Roberto Michel did the same with the lions. The details were left for the sculptor, Miguel Jimenez, who gave form to the borders of the chariot and Juan de Villanueva added to the chariot of Cibeles, the figures of a lion and a bear, elements that were withdraw after a while.

The reason for this goddess is to represent fertility, however, what is the reason for the lions? Behind these majestic animals there is a story protected historically by many centuries. The lions represent the mythical characters, Malaion and Atalanta, two people who were in love, who, according to mythology, succumbed to the pleasures of the flesh in Cibeles’ temple. This action angered Zeus who converted them into lions forced to pull the goddess’ chariot.

There you have her, the majestic grand goddess Cibeles. It is a fountain that did not always function as a monument as until the middle of the 19th century it had a much more interesting use. As it has two water canons, the area was a meeting place for chivalry and official water carriers, although with the Civil War and once water was piped to houses in the capital, the public function of the fountain came to an end.

With the passing of time it changed its function, design and location. Many of the remains of this story can be seen in such places as the San Isidro Museum where you can walk through the most remote origins of the capital which shows us the most beautiful Madrid of all times. A jewel you should not miss.

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