Andén 0: The Chamberí Metro Museum

27 March, 2008 (09:00) | Culture

by Richard Morley

Line 1 Route This week I was one of the first visitors to Madrid’s latest attraction. In 1966 the Ministry of Public Works, finding that Chamberí Metro station could not be easily modified to take the new six-carriage trains and that the area was already well served with other accesses to the metro system, decided to close the station. For forty-two years only the tracks running through the station have been maintained as it lies on the busy Line 1. Meanwhile, the platforms and access tunnels and stairs slowly crumbled. On the surface a new plaza was built with relaxing benches, raised flower beds and a bandstand surrounded by busy cafés and bars, leaving no clue to what lay beneath.

Two years ago it was decided to resurrect the station as a museum. It opened this Monday. A photograph shows the derelict state of the ticket office that the workmen found. Today it has been restored to its original ceramic-tiled glory as envisioned by the first architect of the metro, Antonio Palacios.

The visitor enters via a spiral staircase, or lift, sited on the corner of Calles Luchana and Santa Engracia. Two spirals down one passes through the vestibule to where a small tiered cinema, cleverly formed from an old stepped passage, shows a twenty-minute film describing the Metro’s history — from its beginnings in 1922 to the present day. There are evocative scenes of the metro tunnels in use as air-raid shelters during the Civil War and sequences of old pre-metro Madrid with its uncluttered tramways.

Down the steps, no elevators here, through the old style ticket office with its heavy steel gates, the descent leads to the actual platform. The museum planners have designated this “Andén Cero”. The platform is barricaded from the tracks by thick glass panels as the Line 1 trains pass through at high speed.

Overhead the white ceramic bricks gleam in the light of passing trains. On the far platform, on screens once graced by the advertisements of the time, more motion pictures of bygone Madrid are projected. Some of the old advertisements still exist, created from brightly coloured ceramic tile. These were not changed weekly!

The visit, including the film show, takes less than an hour. It presents a curious and evocative glimpse of times gone by. The restoration has given Madrid a time capsule of life before today’s frantic bustle.

Metro: Bilbao, Iglesia and Rubén Darío (The train no longer stops at Chamberí.) Address: Corner of C/ Luchana and Santa Engracía Hours: Tuesday-Friday 11:00-19:00; Saturdays, Sundays and holidays 10:00-14:00; closed Mondays.

See location on map below:

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Comment from marina
Date: March 27, 2008, 12:17 pm

Richard, it is very nice that they have decided to open the station as a museum.

It was a mysterious station that some of my friends and I used to look for by placing our eyes really near the windows of the train when we were teenagers, but you could only glimpse a couple of details in the dark. Finally earlier this week I saw it completely lit up as I was travelling in line 1 back home.

Comment from Graham Tappenden
Date: March 27, 2008, 12:33 pm

A bit OT:

There is a very interesting site about disused parts of the London Underground:

(eg. did you know that the Metropolitan line used to run within 12 miles of Oxford?

Comment from Richardksa
Date: March 27, 2008, 5:27 pm

Well! Thank you Graham. That’s just taken up most of my afternoon!! Actually it was fascinating reading. God, I must be a geek!!!!

Comment from Charisma
Date: March 27, 2008, 6:33 pm

Thanks for this post. I saw a blurb about the opening while–what else?–waiting for the metro. Do you know how much it costs? I can’t seem to find that particular piece of information online.

Comment from Charisma
Date: March 27, 2008, 6:39 pm

Nevermind that last bit; I just found out that there’s no admission charge.

Comment from Hitesh Sawlani
Date: March 29, 2008, 2:15 am

Wow had no idea about that, I had been using Line 1 to get to school for a couple of years and never noticed it!

I’ll try to check it out next week :)

Comment from ben
Date: March 29, 2008, 10:48 am

Graham - fascinating stuff!!

Comment from Amy
Date: March 31, 2008, 10:03 am

This sounds so cool! I have seen the old station a couple times and wondered what it was. I always figured it was something under construction. I can’t wait to check this out!

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