Fuente de Neptuno, Madrid

Category: Madrid

Madrid, the largest city and the capital of Spain, is one of the most exciting and historically rich cities in Europe, offering tourists literally thousands of sites and attractions to explore while visiting.  One of these must-see sites is the Fuente de Neptuno, or Fountain of Neptune.  To help you become more familiar with this famous site, below we have compiled a brief profile of the fountain, including its history and location and some of the characteristics that make it so special and unique.

Fuente de Neptuno

The Fuente de Neptuno, Madrid’s majestic Fountain of Neptune, is located in the Plaza Canovas del Castillo near the city’s center.  The fountain depicts the mythological God of the Sea Neptune, seated in a conch-shell chariot being pulled by sea horses and surrounded by dolphins and seals.  Fuente de Neptuno is one of the many legacies left by the Bourbon dynasty of monarchs.  Commissioned by Charles III, the fountain was part of the Salon del Prado project, which aimed to provide a spacious avenue with gardens in the Paseo del Prado; a dignified place where Madrid’s wealthier class could gather and meet.

In the initial stages of the project, the intention was to border this new meeting area with two fountains:  one depicting Neptune and another depicting the goddess Cibeles.  Ultimately, however, a third fountain depicting the god Apollo was added in the center, between the other two.  The entire project that led to the building of Fuente de Neptuno and the others was initially the responsibility of the renowned Spanish architect Jose de Hermosilla under the direction of the Count of Aranda, but upon Hermosilla’s death in 1775, the project moved forward under the direction of architect Ventura Rodriguez.

Fuente de Neptuno, which was completed in 1784 and sculpted in white marble, was the creation of Juan Pascual de la Mena, a sculptor commissioned by Rodriguez.  It shows Neptune holding his familiar trident in one hand and a coiled snake in the other.  Together the three fountains of Cibeles, Neptune and Apollo were intended to represent the elements earth, sea and fire respectively.  For over 100 years, the Fuente de Neptuno was situated between the Prado de San Jeronimo and el Paseo de Trajineros, facing the Cibeles Fountain, but in 1898 the city leaders decided to move it to its current location in the Plaza Canovas del Castillo.

Visitors to the Fuente de Neptuno will be dazzled by the amazing detail of this late Baroque period work.  They will also find a number of nearby sites that are equally as interesting to explore, including the Royal Palace, Banco de Espana, the Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums, the Ritz Hotel and the Atletico Madrid, whose football fans regularly cheer the team’s wins while gathered at the fountain.

Admirers of the fountain’s architecture and design will be happy to learn that Architect Ventura Rodriguez, the man who oversaw the fountain project, also designed many other famous works and structures in Madrid, including the Church of San Marcos and the Baroque Chapel of the Virgin in Nuestra Senora del Pilar.  Also well-respected throughout Madrid is the sculptor of Fuente del Neptuno, Juan Pascual de la Mena, who would go on to create many other well-known works, including a number of figures for the Royal Palace and the statue of Cristo de la Buena Muerte in the Church of San Jeronimo in Madrid.

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