Of all the grand roundabouts that punctuate the Paseo del Prado, Plaza de la Cibeles most evokes the splendour of imperial Madrid. The jewel in the crown is the astonishing Palacio de Comunicaciones. Other landmark buildings around the plaza’s perimeter include the Palacio de Linares and Casa de América, the Palacio Buenavista and the national Banco de España. The spectacular fountain of the goddess Cybele at the centre of the plaza is one of Madrid’s most beautiful.
Ever since it was erected by Ventura Rodríguez in 1780, the fountain has been a Madrid favourite. Carlos III liked it so much he tried to have it moved to the royal gardens of the Granja de San Ildefonso, on the road to Segovia, but madrileños kicked up such a fuss that he let it be.
There are fine views east from Plaza de la Cibeles towards the Puerta de Alcalá or, even better, west towards the Edificio Metrópolis.