Atocha and Chamberí: Two Historic Madrid Stations You Have to See

Atocha Station, Madrid
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I like railway stations, because they hold the promise of travel to places far and near. And because they are often architectural masterpieces in their own right. But what happens when these stations are no longer needed by the railway companies? Do they fall into decline, or do they find another use? During my recent visit to Spain I went to two historic Madrid stations: one still very much alive, the other more ghostly…

Atocha Station, Madrid
The grand building (and tropical gardens) of Madrid Atocha Station

Madrid Atocha Station: a Tropical Garden

My first stop was at Madrid Atocha Station. Atocha itself is still a busy terminal, serving the Metro and the cities of southern Spain. But I was more interested in the original building, which is now disused. Built in 1851, it was partly destroyed by fire and then renovated in the wrought iron renewal style, with a tall glass and steel roof. One of the architects was Gustave Eiffel (of Tower fame).

Atocha Station, Madrid
Atocha Station is a popular place to eat lunch and meet friends

A new terminal was built in 1992, and the original building was taken out of use. But it sprang back to life as a concourse with shops and cafés and, more remarkably, a tropical garden. Today the area is full of tall palms and hundreds of other plants. There is even a small lake with goldfish and lots of turtles.

Madrid Atocha Station
Pinnable image of Madrid Atocha Station

When I visited, the whole place was buzzing with people, eating in the café or watching the turtles. Some people with suitcases were sitting on a bench between the plants, obviously taking some time out before catching a train. They looked unusually relaxed for people on a journey!

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The Ghost Station of Chamberí

For something completely different I went to the Chamberí Metro Station. This is an old underground station on the “blue” line, opened in 1919 and closed in 1966. It reopened in 2008 as a museum called Andén 0 (Platform Zero), with the station preserved just as it would have been in 1919. (Look at the website for access and opening times.)

Chamberi Station, Madrid
The deserted platform of Chamberi Metro Station

Initially I tagged on to the end of a guided tour. However, I struggled to understand the Spanish, so I left the group and wandered around on my own, taking pictures of the station with its tiled walls. It was a strange experience, being in a deserted station with its vintage advertisements, and the original signage and metro map. I even passed the old ticket office on the way out.

Chamberi Metro Station
Chamberi Station is just as it would have been in 1919

Although the station is closed, the line that passes through it is still running. There is a glass screen between the platform and the track, separating the visitors from the passing trains. As I took my photos I was startled by a loud roar, followed by the lights of an approaching train. It whizzed past, the faces of the passengers turned curiously towards the tourists on the platform. Was it they who were the ghosts, or was it us?

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6 thoughts on “Atocha and Chamberí: Two Historic Madrid Stations You Have to See”

  1. Such beautiful stations in historic Madrid. Public transportation would certainly be more utilized if more of it was this grand. Thanks for sharing the wonderful photos. Looks like you enjoyed your visit.

  2. Both of these look really interesting, but that Atocha Station looks amazing. More ideas for my travel list!

  3. I am with you – give me a train station or a ferry dock and the imagination soars! Lovely look at these two stations!

  4. I love Atocha station and have been there a few times. A lot of times, our flights are from there as they were cheaper than from Seville and now Valencia. Love the beauty. I’ve never heard of Chamberi but will be sure to check it out :-). Thanks for sharing.

  5. I love the way they figured out a way to use the old part of Atocha Station. I’ll bet it was amazing. And how wonderful they allow people to again tour Chamberí Station. Very interesting!!

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Karen Warren

WorldWideWriter is owned and managed by Karen Warren.

I have been writing and travelling for many years (almost 70 countries at the last count), and I’ve visited every continent except Antarctica. This website is my attempt to inform and inspire other travellers, and to share some of the things I’ve discovered along the way. Read more…

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