It offered its first underground services in 1919, when King Alfonso XIII inaugurated the first line that went from Cuatro Caminos to Sol, with Chamberí station -of which we will talk about later on- in the middle of the line. With these new infrastructures, Madrid was now a European city in its full right, with the works on the Gran Vía in full flow initiated nine years before and the vocation of leaving aside that appearance of ‘Castilian town’, paraphrasing the members of the literary Generation of ‘98. In neighbouring Portugal, the first lines of the metro in Lisbon were inaugurated in 1959 while the underground in Rome began to work in 1930. In Paris, the first line of the Métropolitain opened in 1900, built for the Olympic Games of that same year.
During the Spanish Civil War, the metro stations became common refuges for the people of Madrid to keep safe from the bombings of the aviation of General Franco and his German and Italian.
Going back to the present, the metro of Madrid enjoys a good reputation among locals despite the recent protests due to the increase in ticket prices, prices that are in line with those from other European capitals with a higher per capita income. However, the short frequency of trains -especially by day- and the cleanliness of the facilities make it an increasingly-popular transport as the following data indicates: 634 trips in 2011.
With a total of 12 lines and 238 stations, the Madrid Metro is getting closer and closer to the periphery of the city, with access to cities like Alcobendas, Leganés or Getafe, although the regional trains are recommended for long journeys inside the city itself -which you can get from Chamartín and Atocha, for example-, essential for day trips of cultural interest to places like San Lorenzo de El Escorial , Alcalá de Henares or Aranjuez.
If we go back to the aforementioned station of Chamberí, a curiosity is that it was closed to the public because with the opening of new stations it was no longer needed, so it was ‘frozen’. Before it became a museum, if you travelled on Line 1 you could still see the remains of the past, with adverts from products from years gone by (Anís del Mono) and the tiles in Parisian style on the walls that used to be so trendy back then (and which luckily are coming back into fashion). Since 2008, it became a small museum on the old metro, preserving the aesthetics it had until the station closed on May 21st 1966. An excellent way of learning about the past of the quickest and most comfortable transport in the city.
The most famous and key station in the network is Sol, which is located barely 200 yards from our hotel. From it you can get to almost every point in the city of Madrid in less than an hour. It was one of the first stations in the network but in the 1980s it was revamped to make it suitable for the huge traffic of commuters that it had every day.