The underground of Madrid, a parallel world

Today we delve into the depths of Madrid, its hidden face, the unknown part of this great metropolis. In the underground of this extraordinary city you can find many hidden treasures, the unseen world beneath our feet, that one we don’t perceive without awareness, but that exists and is palpable. A ghost phantom station located at Plaza de Chamberí, hidden passages in the city center and even there is a maximum-security vault, a cryptic below the earth’s surface.

In the vicinity of Cibeles fountain stands the headquarters of the national Bank of Spain, in Alcalá street 48, an emblematic stone building built between 1884-1891. There you can find a vault, a box full of gold reserves 35 meters below the ground. The vault has strict security measures, in its 70 years of life nobody has ever tried to steal or enter with unauthorized access to the bank vault.

In Alcalá street 59, on the opposite side to the Royal Post Office (Real Casa de Correos), today you can find the Irish bar “Mathew Loughney”. In the thirties this place was called “Café Lyon”, and was a literary café, in which the intellectuals of that time, important Spanish figures, discussed narrative, political and critical issues and held dialectical battles. In the basement floor of this cafeteria, before and after the Civil War, literary circles called “La Ballena Alegre” (The Joyful Whale) gathered together. The basement walls still have the frescoes of the “The Joyful Whale”, a place where despite the passage of time, poetry and rhetoric dialogue unite in space.

At the confluence of the streets Santa Engracia and Luchana, in the section of the underground metro line 1 between Puerta del Sol and the Glorieta de Cuatro Caminos, was built Madrid’s old Chamberí Metro station. This station, designed by the architect Antonio Palacios in 1919, with ceramic bricks, ornamentation, decorated with advertisements of that time and whose dome is covered with white tiles, was closed in 1966 because it could not accommodate new trains of higher capacity as the metro station was built on a curve. After the station was shut down, it become almost eerie, abandon and dark. During this period, many travelers that took a ride on line 1, and passed between Bilbao and Iglesia metro stops, caught a momentary glimpse, a holography of the deserted Chamberí. Currently, after the recovery work in Chamberí Station initiated in 2006, this station has turned into a metro museum, with original furniture and platforms.

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