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WYD - A palace, a bank, a plaza and a water fountain

August 15, 2011
Every city has it's little secrets. Some are dark and sinister, some are just plain fabulous. After eight months in Madrid, I learned one of those neat little secrets that I put in the fabulous category just because it's downright ingenious.
One of the most iconic landmarks in Madrid is Plaza Cibeles. It's a roundabout on which stands the official City Hall building (a beautiful, white, building that looks like a cross between a fairy tale palace and a cathedral) and the Bank of Spain. In the middle of this round plaza sits Cibeles fountain. The fountain features the goddess Cybele, the Roman goddess of nature, in her chariot.
Every city has spectacular fountains, but this one also has a function. Remember how the Bank of Spain is one of the buildings that sits on Plaza Cibeles? Well, should the Bank of Spain every have a fire or should there be an attempted break and enter, the water in Cibeles fountain would drain completely. Where would it go? This is the ingenious part.
The water from Cibeles would flood the lower levels of the Bank of Spain building, the levels where the safes and the most valuable property (the money) is housed, thus saving it from fire and twarting any attempted theft.
Tomorrow, August 16, at the beginning of WYD, the fountain will be fully functional, to the relief of WYD pilgrims, and the spray from its jets will provide a cooling mist to those pilgrims standing close to it during the Opening Mass of WYD 2011.
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