The Palacio de Cibeles (Cibeles Palace) is one of the most impressive buildings in Madrid. Originally built as a post office and telecommunications centre, it was known as the Palacio de Comunicaciones (Communications Palace). It was the largest post office building in the world. At 12,000 square meters and 70 meters high, it easily beat the 4,000 square meters of the Chicago office.
The Palace stands on the side of the Plaza de Cibeles. The plot used to be part of the old gardens of El Retiro. Originally this was controversial as it deprived Madrid of outdoor recreational space.
A brief history
The young Spanish architects Antonio Palacios and Joaquín Otamendi designed the building; the design was Neoplateresque, modernist with Art Deco aesthetic details. Construction started in 1907 and took twelve years. Between one thousand five hundred and two thousand tons of iron, seven thousand cubic meters of stone and a massive quantity of bricks were used for the construction.
The building officially opened in 1919. It served as a centre for post, telegraphs and telephones until 2007, when, due to the decline in postal mail, it became the official building of the Madrid City Council.
In 1993, it became a Site of Cultural Interest.
Palacio de Cibeles today
Today, the Palacio de Cibeles primarily serves as a City Hall, however, the building is also open to the public and serves several different purposes.
Just entering the building is impressive. The entrance lobby is majestic because of its size, decoration and grandeur. The marble-topped counters and desks where users filled out forms to process their correspondence are still there. However, it doesn’t end there. There is more to this building and much to explore:
The mirador (viewing terrace)
The viewing terrace is on the 8th floor. From here you can enjoy a commanding 360m degree view of Madrid. You’ll be taking loads of photos! Guaranteed! The views are similar to the ones from Círculo de Bellas Artes, except there is no seating and bar (that’s available on the 6th floor).
There is an entrance fee. I think it was €3 when I visited in 2019. There is a lift to the 6th floor; the last two storeys are by stairs.
Restaurant and bar (with viewing terrace)
The advantage of this terrace is that you can enjoy a drink or a meal while enjoying the views—the Palacio de Cibeles Restaurant and the Cibeles Terrace are both located on the sixth floor. The view is more limited since it only faces the Plaza de Cibeles, but it is still magnificent nonetheless.
The Crystal Gallery
The Crystal Gallery is behind the Cibeles Palace. It is a large 2,400m2 patio covered by a glass dome weighing 500 tons. Originally the area was used for parking delivery vehicles. Now it is an airconditioned space with underfloor heating used for public and private events.
CentroCenro covers a total area of more than 8,000 m2 spread around on floors 1, 3, 4 and 5. It comprises a public cultural information point, and open spaces within the Palace dedicated to contemporary art. Scheduled activities include exhibitions, concerts, workshops, seminars, meetings, reading groups, performances, screenings or publications.
CentroCentro also houses a cafeteria and a bookstore-shop. It includes a reading room with newspapers and a quirky, colourful room next to the main hall that offers the visitor a place to study, read, connect to the internet or relax.