Plaza de Cibeles, The Prettiest Plaza in Madrid

by Gray Cargill on October 19, 2011

Plaza de Cibeles

Plaza de Cibeles

If you visit Madrid, Plaza de Cibeles (metro: Banco de Espana) should be a stop on your itinerary. It is by far the prettiest and most interesting intersection I found in Madrid. It is located at the intersection of Calle de Alcala, Paseo del Prado, and Paseo de Recoletos. There, you will see the Fountain of Cibeles, with a statue of the goddess Ceres (aka Cibele) being pulled in a chariot by two lions.

Fountain of Cibeles

Fountain of Cibeles

You’ll also see the magnificent Cibeles Palace (aka the Communications Palace)–and if you love architecture, you’ll want to study this one awhile from several different angles. Formerly the site of the headquarters of the postal service, it is now city hall. But truly, it looks like it should be a royal palace, not a government office building.

Cibeles Palace

Cibeles Palace

Cibeles Fountain and Palace

Cibeles Fountain and Palace

The Banco de Espana is another lovely buildings located on the plaza.

Banco de Espana

Banco de Espana, looking toward Cibeles Palace

It’s not quite as dramatically gorgeous as the Palace, but it has its own pretty architectural elements:

Banco de Espana

Banco de Espana

Continue on down Calle de Alcala and you will come to one of the entrances of Retiro Park. Walk north from the Plaza along Paseo de Recoletos for a lovely walk beneath the trees among outdoor fountains. When I was there, there was an outdoor art display set up along the paseo, which was really cool.

Paso de Recoletos

Paseo de Recoletos

Or head south from the Plaza on Paseo del Prado past the Naval Museum and the Madrid Stock Exchange to the Prado Museum.

Naval Museum, Madrid

Naval Museum, Madrid

Madrid Stock Exchange building

Madrid Stock Exchange building

Museo del Prado

Museo del Prado

If the Real Madrid football team wins a championship, Plaza de Cibeles is where fans flock to celebrate. Plaza de Cibeles is an excellent intersection for people-watching. The plus for me is that it’s a wide open space, not crowded in on all sides by buildings, making it far less claustrophobic than some plazas in Madrid. With so many interesting streets branching off from it, and so many beautiful sites on the plaza or close by, it’s my pick for prettiest plaza in Madrid.

Ross August 27, 2013 at 2:47 pm

That plaza definitely is up there with my favourites in Madrid but I think Madrid has so many great places that its hard to pick. How that place was a post office I’ll never know. I think Plaza Mayor was my favourite and my dream is to live in one of the apartments that look onto it

Gray Cargill August 27, 2013 at 7:57 pm

It’s true, Ross, Madrid does have a lot of great plazas. I suppose they’re each really special in their own unique ways. Plaza Mayor was cool, too.

Gray October 24, 2011 at 10:44 am

Thank you, Christine. I’m sorry you missed it when you were there. It is very pretty.

GRRRLTRAVELER October 24, 2011 at 6:58 am

Your photos make it look like the prettiest plaza! ha ha… Wow. Every place is so clean too! I don’t remember seeing that plaza when I was in Madrid.

Gray October 20, 2011 at 5:26 am

That must have been an exciting time, Adam. And yeah, not to take anything away from the cute little plazas with just foot traffic, because they’re certainly nice too. Plus there’s a lot of great dining around Plaza Mayor. 🙂

Sabina – I don’t know about tours, but you can go inside.

Sabina October 20, 2011 at 3:06 am

I think I would just love Madrid, and all of Spain. Cibeles Palace looks marvelous! Do they give tours of the inside?

Adam Pervez October 19, 2011 at 10:17 pm

I couldn’t agree more. I used to live 10 minutes away from Cibeles and I’d walk down there often. Plaza Mayor can be nice, if nothing else because there is no car traffic, but there is definitely something about that building – especially at night when it’s lit up! It was especially beautiful when Madrid was competing to host the Olympics during 2009.

Gray October 19, 2011 at 4:59 pm

Thank you, Simon, that means a lot to me coming from such an accomplished photographer as you.

Isn’t it just gorgeous, JoAnna? Even more impressive in person, believe me.

JoAnna October 19, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Wow! Everything about that building is completely beautiful!

Simon October 19, 2011 at 11:39 am

Awesome photos, Gray. I’ve been to Madrid a couple of time but always for a short time so I can’t say that I really know it. Looking at your pics guves me an excellent reason to go back soon.

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