Spanish version


Cibeles fountainUntil the XVIth century Madrid had been a small village, with few inhabitants and no main problems regarding its infrastructures. But when King Felipe II decided to establish the court in the city and it became the capital of the country, immediately the number of inhabitants increased and also their needs.

Madrid has River Manzanares, but the water level is very low, specially in summer and it could not be used to provide the city with enough water.

A tributary to River Manzanares is the Abroñigal, an underground stream, that flowed under the Paseo de la Castellana. Now the course of the stream is under the M-30 highway.

Today its water does not cover the needs of the city, but in the XVIth  and XVIIth centuries its springs provided the inhabitants with enough water.
In order to make this water accesible, fountains and jets were made so that people could collect it there.

A popular character appeared in those days: the "aguadores" , water carriers. There were two types, those who sold water on the streets called "aguadores de cuba" and those who brought heavy barrels to the houses, "aguadores de barril". They used to have their meeting place at Plaza del Alamillo and were not very popular among the male inhabitants as it was said that they did not only deliver the barrels but also entertain the ladies.4 fountains

The water from the different fountains did not have the same taste and so also the price was different depending on its quality.

Most of the fountains built in the XVIIth century had a practical use. They were designed by the most famous architects and made in barroque style.

When the Bourbon Dinasty came to Spain, the artistic style changed. Fountains were more decorated and the old ones adapted to the new fashion. Specially King Carlos III, in the XVIII, changed the look of the city. The fountains became an ornamental object. Many of them were inspired in those of Rome.

It was not until the reign of Queen Isabel II when the building of fountains was promoted again. She also promoted the building of a channel that brought water from River Lozoya to Madrid, known as "Canal de Isabel II" and that still supplies the water we use today.
In the XXth century, the fountains built were mostly memorial fountains and in the last part of the century light and movement became part of them.

@Copyright 2008, 2009 Mª Dolores Diehl Busch. All rights reserved.
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