Spanish version

Metro Madrid

Public Transport

plan of Chamberi station

At the end of the XIXth century Madrid starts using public transport. The first tramways carried by horses were used in Jerez de la Frontera and soon introduced in the capital. The first line went from Puerta del Sol to calle Serrano.

In 1906 the steam tramway replaced the horses and a few years later electric trams were used. In the 30´s they already transported 200 million passangers yearly.

entrance to Chamberi platform

Since that moment new ways of transport appeared: cars, busses and the underground transformed the way of living in the cities.

A trip that at the beginning of the century took you a whole day, was now just a question of a few hours. Public transport allowed people to move without big complications from one place of the city to another. Now it was not necessary to live close to the working place.

In 1970 tramways disspeared, it was the time of busses and underground.

The Underground

entrance to  Chamberí stationalthough there had been some projects before, the first underground line was inaugurated in 1919. Several architects wanted to provide Madrid with four different lines.

It seems that the project did not attract many investors. The Banco de Vizcaya gave 4 million Pesetas, but they still needed four more. Eventually King Alfonso XIII invested one million Pesteas from his private fortune and this made more businesses invest in the project.


The project of the underground was designed by the engineers Carlos Mendoza, Miguel Otamendi andAntonio Gonzalez Echarte and the stations were designed by Antonio Palacios.

Works started in 1917. As World War I was taking place during time, works got along very slowly because materials arrived only from time to time.

The first line went from Puerta del Sol to Cuatro Caminos, which was outside of the city in those days. The line was 3,48km long and had 8 stations. It took passaengers 10 minutes to cover the way. So many of them could now spend the afternoon in the city, which had been something almost impossible before.

stairs with white tiles at Chamberi station

The first line was extended and five years later the second one appeared, going from Puerta del Sol to Ventas.

Little by little the subsoil of Madrid was filled with different lines and station. Today Madrilian underground is 284km long and has 294 stations. All that after 90 years of existence.

Return tickets were introduced in 1924 and in 1931 the first automatic vending machine.

Civil War

During the Civil War (1936 - 1939) the underground was used as refuge from the bombing and in some cases also to transport corpses to the cementeries. Some stations were also used as arsenal and, in fact, in 1938 a big explosion took place killing many people.

Suburban Trains

In the 50´s the transport network is extended with more undergorund lines and also a train crossing Chamberi stationsuburban trains, which travel on the surface and communicate stations that are farther way.

The Ghost Station

Chamberí station is very close to those of Bilbao and Iglesia and therefore it was decided to close it in 1966. It was completely abandoned during many years until its reopening in 2008. Currently guided tours take place in Chamberi station showing visitors what old stations looked like and how the underground changed people lives. On the walls we can see old advertisements and also the passages and stairs have the typical white tiles of those days.

Extension of the Underground

advertisements at Chamberi stationIn 1990 a big extension of the underground lines was foreseen. The idea was, that no station should be more than 600m from the next.

Since then Metro Madrid has been constantly growing and still is, increasing its number of destinations. Trains are being improved with faster and more comfortable vagons. The stations are safer and adapted to disabled travellers. It is clear that the undergorund is the best way of moving around in a big city. And the 2 million people that use Metro Madrid every day prove this.

@Copyright 2008, 2009 Mª Dolores Diehl Busch. All rights reserved.
Sponsored by Keydomo S.L.