There’s a whole lot more to Madrid’s public transport system than getting from A to B. Oftentimes we scurry onto Madrid’s extensive Metro network, rushing off to work, or heading downtown for some tapas, barely giving a thought to what lies within this subterranean maze, or how it was built. It’s not just trainspotters who will enjoy learning about the Madrid Metro, in fact, discovering more about the Madrid Metro is discovering more about the city, its people and its history. The following two Metro museums are a surprisingly good way for visitors to spend a day, especially those with children.
Platform 0, Chamberí Station
It may not be platform 9 3/4 of Harry potter fame, but this is just as quirky: “Platform 0” at Chamberí Metro station. Chamberi is one of the original Metro stations, dating back to 1917. Being in an area well served by other stations, it was eventually abandoned in the 1960s, and in 2006, the station was reopened as a museum. Although renovated, it was restored to replicate its 1917 origins. One might be forgiven for really believing this to be a haunted station – right from the museum’s entrance through a beautiful spiral staircase, museum visitors are treated to a real trip back in time. The eerie feeling is further highlighted by the “one in and one out” admittance, so the corridors and platforms are sparsely populated. Original Edwardian-era advertisements adorn the walls and dimly lit platforms, making this a haunting and beautiful timewarp. Even ticket machines and lockers are all original. In the interactive museum, you can learn about the history of Madrid’s Metro system via interactive exhibitions and short films. The Chamberí Museum Platform 0 is open Friday-Sunday, and best of all, entrance is free!
The Pacific Engine Shed
Another free Metro museum is the Pacific Engine Shed. This underground power station dates back to 1922, and was once the heart of the Madrid Metro, generating and supplying all the power for the subway network. As technology progressed, this mighty engine room was abandoned, and has only recently been opened to the public. Technology, engineering, and history buffs will find these antique generators a fascinating insight into electrical power, and how the history of our power has shaped the history of our city. Curiously, during the Civil War, the powerplant’s output was appropriated to power the needs of the entire city, such was its importance. An interactive museum shows films in Spanish and in English, displays 3D models, and detailed explanations of the history of the mighty powerplant.