The 10 most beautiful Metro stations
Over the years, following extension after extension, and also thanks to various reconstruction and improvement works, the Madrid metro has become an underground museum. There is room for every kind of artistic style, from the classic work conserved at Tirso de Molina to the urban art at Paco de Lucía, the brilliant abstract creations at Alsacia or the spectacular cascade of lights at Chamartín.
It’s not possible to include all of Metro’s treasures in a top ten, but in case you were wondering, here’s our selection of some of the most beautiful Metro stations:
- Paco de Lucía
This station opened in 2015 and it bears the name of guitarist Paco de Lucía who died the previous year and whose image dominates the station’s large decorative mural. This 300 m2 work was created by artists Okuda and Rosch333 and is entitled “Entre dos universos” (“Between two universes”) in reference to the famous song “Entre dos aguas” by Paco de Lucía, and also because it unites the universes of each artist. Rosh333’s half is dominated by curved lines and pastel tones, while Okuda’s is characterised by geometric figures, star shapes and vibrant colours.
Decoration of the station was part of the “Línea zero” urban art project that saw several stations temporarily decorated to showcase urban art; thanks to Paco de Lucía station, urban art now has a permanent place in the Metro de Madrid network
The Chamartín station we see today was built on the site of the former Line 10 station and it was constructed with unique dimensions, meaning it could be decorated in a spectacular way that only enhances its grandeur.
In 2007, artists Vicente Patón and Alerto Tellería were given the challenge of decorating a surface that was 21 m high and 50 m across in a horizontal curve; they opted for a large 1,000 m2 panel that covered three of the station’s four levels.
They called their work Iguazú because it imitates a waterfall; an interesting fact is that they were inspired by cathedral apses, the curved space available to them serving as a reminder, that they could then flood with light. On this occasion the light is artificial and is brought to life by constant vertical movement that accompanies passengers as they descend through the different levels of the station. It’s a work that is sure to impress!
- Tirso de Molina
Tirso de Molina station was designed by Antonio Palacios, the architect who designed the Metro de Madrid, and it opened to the public in 1921 with the name Progreso. Today it still retains its original appearance following rebuilding work, and it takes us back to the 1920s when tiling was the dominant style.
The vestibule is dominated by a vaulted ceiling covered with white tiles with horizontal and vertical blue borders, and friezes in gold and copper tones. In addition, an old coat of arms of Madrid is set into a mosaic panel above the staircase in the direction of Sol; it has been part of the history of the Metro since it began because it was installed in Cuatro Caminos in 1919 to commemorate the opening of Line 1 by King Alfonso XIII.
If you would like to know more about Antonio Palacios, don’t miss this video: https://youtu.be/-DqseoiGmAU
Opened to the public in 2011 as part of the works to extend line 2 to Las Rosas, Alsacia is decorated by Sevillian artist Luis Gordillo, one of the leading figures of abstract art in Spain. The work is entitled “Enclosed Dreams” and covers most of the walls of the station, reaching across various heights, beams, cables and the station’s own installations.
It is made from high quality digital prints and is characterised by the dynamic and vivid colours typical of this artist.
This station was built in 2007 as part of the extension of Lines 1 and 4 to Pinar de Chamartín and is decorated with an impressive mural entitled “Phortaleza” measuring 50 m high by 6 m wide by brothers Juan Carlos and Javier Melero.
The work is a mosaic that is formed by 3,796 photographs and it pays tribute to the Metro works and the work that was necessary to create the space. To create it, the artists selected images taken at different times during the construction of the tunnel and the station and used them to depict the columns that lie beneath the station’s cladding, unseen by travellers.
The work on the complete refurbishment of Sevilla station, completed in 2019, saw the existing vestibule replaced by a completely new one, coinciding with the year in which the Madrid underground commemorated its centenary. In tribute, the station was decorated with large-scale reproductions of old maps of Madrid and historical photographs of the station’s exterior.
In addition, during the modernisation work at Sevilla station, the remains of an old ceramic advertising mural were discovered which has been restored and now forms part of the station’s decoration. It is made of white tiles and depicts a woman dressed in 1920s clothes who encourages travellers to use ‘Salt soap from Carabaña. Unbeatable for the skin’.
- Hospital 12 de octubre
Built as part of the Expansion Plan completed in 2007, Hospital 12 de Octubre station has a spectacular decoration by Carlos Alonso Pérez and Luis Sardá de Abreu entitled “Humani Corpori”.
The mural is almost four metres high and consists of 12 figures, six male and six female, that represent the human body observed from different perspectives. The work aims to create the same sensation in Metro travellers as they would experience when admiring a sculpture from every angle.
This station also opened in 2007 and the project used in its decoration is called “Planeta Arganzuela”. The work was created by Carlos Alonso and Luis Sardá and pays tribute to the Planetarium; it is based on the idea of what the Earth looks like from the sky and what the sky looks like from here.
The main element in the work is a large planet made from an aerial photograph of Madrid that features the Planetarium at the centre, and the artists designed this five-metre sphere to imitate a celestial body. Several planets of different sizes and colours hang from the station’s ceiling and are found at different levels, joining the Arganzuela planet to form a solar system.
- Marqués de la Valdavia
This station was built as part of the extension of Line 10 to Alcobendas and San Sebastián de los Reyes and has a highly original decorative scheme that plays with a sense of scale and the underground nature of the Metro.
Entitled “At ground level”, artist Jorge Bernabeu Larena took advantage of the large space available to him and connected all the levels of the station, allowing a fragment of Parque de Cataluña in Alcobendas, located above, to “slip” into the station.
The work consists of two large murals that reproduce, on a giant scale, photographic images taken at ground level in a park in Alcobendas. To intensify the idea of a descent into the depths of the station, the artist incorporated areas of sky into the upper mural and the deepest part of the grass, close to the roots, in the lower mural.
10. Alto del Arenal
Alto del Arenal station houses the Metro Command Post and, although it may not one of the most spectacular stations, it stands out because it houses a classic metro car similar to the one that can be visited in the exhibition of classic trains at Chamartín.
It is a Quevedo R-122 car, to be specific, a model built by the Sociedad Española de Construcción Naval (Spanish Shipbuilding Company) that was in service between 1925 and 1931. The red car is decorated on its sides with the only circular logo that the company has had in its century-long history, between 1931 and 1939.
If you would like to know more about the different train models that have run on Metro de Madrid during its hundred-year existence, make sure you don’t miss this video: https://youtu.be/MvynDoffHH8
In addition, the station has a mural made of mirrors that imitates a panel of geometrically arranged monitors on which you can read the syllables that make up the name of the neighbourhood that it calls home: VA - LLE – CAS, and a poem by Benedetti: "Con tu puedo y mi quiero, vamos juntos compañero" (With your ‘I can’ and my ‘I want’, let’s go together, friend), set to music by Vallecano singer–songwriter Luis Pastor