The Plaza de Cibeles is a square with a neo-classical complex of marble sculptures with fountains that has become an iconic symbol for the city of Madrid. The fountain of Cibeles is found in the part of Madrid commonly called the Paseo de Recoletos. This fountain, named after Cybele (or Ceres), Roman goddess of fertility, is seen as one of Madrid's most important symbols.
The Cibeles fountain depicts the goddess, sitting on a chariot pulled by two lions. The fountain was built in the reign of Charles III and designed by Ventura Rodríguez between 1777 and 1782. The goddess and chariot are the work of Francisco Gutiérrez and the lions by Roberto Michel. The fountain originally stood next to the Buenavista Palace, and was moved to its present location in the middle of the square in the late 19th century. Up until the 19th century both the fountain of Neptune and Cibeles looked directly at each other, until the city council decided to turn them round to face towards the centre of the city. On one side of the fountain of Cibeles, the Paseo de Recoletos starts, heading north to link up with the Paseo de la Castellana.
On the other side, the Paseo del Prado begins and heads off south, towards the fountain of Neptune, in the Plaza de Cánovas del Castillo, and on until Atocha. Calle de Alcalá is the street which intersects the fountain from east to west. Calle de Alcalá starts in the Puerta del Sol and continues on to the outskirs of Madrid.
The fountain of Cibeles has been adopted by the football club Real Madrid, whose fans use the area to celebrate its triumphs in competitions such as La Liga, the Champions League or the Copa del Rey. A flag of Real Madrid is usually wrapped around the Cibeles statue.
The most prominent of the buildings at the Plaza de Cibeles is the Cibeles Palace (formerly named Communications Palace). The cathedral-like landmark was built in 1909 by Antonio Palacios as the headquarters of the postal service.
Opposite the Bank of Spain is the Linares Palacio. The baroque palace was built in 1873 by a rich banker, José de Murga. A century later, the building had fallen into disrepair but in 1992 it was completely renovated. It currently houses the Casa de América, a cultural center and art gallery focused mostly on Latin American arts.