I first discovered Madrid's ghost station as a fleeting vision while I was riding the Metro. I only caught a glimpse of a darkened station, gorgeous tiled adverts and the red diamond sign of Chamberí for a few seconds while the train was whizzing along on Line 1, but I was intrigued.
Chamberí used to be a Metro station on Line 1, between Bilbao and Iglesia. The station, part of the first subway line in Madrid running from Cuatro Caminos to Puerta del Sol, was inaugurated on October 17th, 1919. In May 1966, during work to extend the platform, the Ministry of Public Works discovered that since the station was built on a curve, it'd be too difficult to modify it to accommodate the longer six carriage trains, so they decided to close down the station. Since Chamberi was placed very close to Bilbao and Iglesia this wasn't an inconvenience to anybody.
"They simply switched off the lights and closed the entrance. Everything was left as it was on that last day, even the used tickets and newspapers. It was like this for more than forty years," explains my friend, Dario, a Madrileño. "It became a legend with children (and not so young people) travelling on this line. From time to time, some TV programs would talk about this 'ghost station', and some of them were allowed to enter the place and shoot images of this dusty time machine. In the nineties, the place became a target for adventurers and, unfortunately, some hooligans too. The remains of the station quickly became more and more damaged, until finally the authorities decided to restore it and convert the old station into a museum."
Despite losing its mystery and charming decay since the restoration in 2006, the station still manages to retain a ghostly vibe, especially when you hear the echoed high-pitch song of the train approaching the platform. For those who enjoy the beauty of old subway stations, tiled adverts and a little history, this abandoned Metro stop turned museum is a delightful place to let your imagination wander back to a time long gone.
Andén Cero (Platform Zero), Chamberí Metro Station is open Mondays to Fridays from 11:00 to 19:00 and Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 10:00 to 14:00. The nearest metros are Bilbao, Iglesia, Alonzo Martínez and Ruben Dario. Entry is FREE.