Lavapiés station access sign

The station of the month: Lavapiés, on L3

If there is a neighbourhood in Madrid that is both traditional and a crossroads of cultures, it is Lavapiés. A neighbourhood with a lot of history, like its Metro station.

Did you know that Lavapiés was one of the first stations on Metro's Line 3? It opened to the public on 9 August 1936 with just 1.4 kilometres of track and three stations: Sol, Lavapiés and Embajadores. This line, the planning for which started in 1932, cost no more and no less than 10.5 million pesetas.

As you might imagine if you pay attention to the date, there was no celebration or ribbons to cut at the inauguration. The new yellow line was launched less than a month into the Civil War, so there was only a brief note in the newspapers announcing its commissioning.  

"Press announcement of the commissioning of L3 on 10 August 1936"

As part of the first opened section, Lavapiés has seen line 3 grow towards the north and south of Madrid. Today, the line is 13.4 kilometres long and has a total of 18 stations, including Lavapiés.

A station with so much tradition is necessarily cinematographic. In 1951, the director José Antonio Nieves Conde showed us the Pérez family travelling by metro to Lavapiés in Surcos. So if you want to see what the station was like in its original state, we encourage you to see this Spanish neorealist film, which some consider to be one of the best films in the history of Spanish cinema.

"Poster of the film Surcos"

In these two photos, you can see what the station looked like in the 90s (the ultimate clue is the poster of this film, a 90s film if ever there was one). 

"Lavapiés station ticket office in the 90's"

"Lavapiés station hall in the 90's"

As you can see, much has changed. Today's station is the result of a comprehensive modernisation carried out between 2004 and 2006, as part of a full overhaul of the entire line 3. The refurbishment made all stations on the line fully accessible to people with reduced mobility. It also made it possible to prepare the line for the greater number of passengers it received after its extension to the south, to Villaverde.

In fact, one of the actions carried out was particularly complex: the platforms were extended by 30 metres –from 60 to 90 metres– in order to accommodate six-car trains (two more than on the old platforms, which until then ran with four cars). In addition, the control and signalling systems were upgraded to 1,500 VDC voltage to improve efficiency. Here is a photo of the works. 

"Comprehensive refurbishment works on line 3"

The station is located next to the Plaza de Lavapiés, which gives it its name, although its access is on Calle Argumosa. It is located in the Embajadores neighbourhood and, as we said before, it is fully accessible: it features three lifts and five escalators.

What gives the station its character is undoubtedly its users. In 2022, 3.1 million passengers entered the station; a daily average of 10,000 passengers on weekdays. 

"Lavapiés station platform and tunnel"

If we get cultural, next to the station is the Teatro Valle-Inclán of the Centro Dramático Nacional. The Reina Sofía Museum is also very close by. And in summer, you can't miss one of the most traditional festivities in Madrid: San Lorenzo, celebrated on 10 August. The best way to get there: by Metro!

"Lavapiés station gate"