Hotel Puerta de Toledo

Atocha, more than just a train station

By | 14 January, 2023 | 0 comments

“Yo me bajo en Atocha” (I’m getting off at Atocha) is a 1998 song by Joaquín Sabina. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, and even more since Sabina arrived in the capital from his native Jaén to dedicate himself to music, initially with La Mandrágora and then as a solo artist.

The fact is that Atocha has always been one of the most important places in Madrid. Located opposite the Ministry of Agriculture, year after year the station has served not only as a place to pass through but also as a place to visit, to arrive a little early and take a few moments to admire its wonderful garden and tortoises.

Atocha station was built between 1889 and 1892. At the time the city already had two other stations, the nearby Delicias station as well as the Estación del Norte (North Station) – now known as Príncipe Pío -.

The exterior of the building is in the form of an inverted ship’s hull, which lends it extensive interior space. The construction also shows some influence from the Belgian school, as part of the project was carried out there. Responsibility for development of the building was entrusted to Alberto de Palacio y Elissague, the same man who designed the Crystal Palace in Madrid’s Retiro Park and the Hanging Bridge in Biscay.

In 1992, with the arrival of the high-speed train, which in turn was developed for the Universal Exhibition in Seville, some remodelling work was carried out by Rafael Moneo, the architect also identified with the Kursaal in San Sebastian.

The tropical garden was also inaugurated the same year, which was no mean feat in itself as it occupies an extension of 4000m2 and houses more than 700 plants from more than 250 different species from the Americas, Australia and Asia. The turtles, however, were not part of the plan, though some marine plants were. It would appear that some families may have released their pets there, only for them to become one of the garden’s most iconic elements.

Categories: Madrid Cultura