Madrid’s Delicias station, inaugurated on 30 March 1880, has been the Museum’s headquarters since 1984
It is been 140 years since the opening of Madrid’s Delicias station, the first monumental station of the Spanish capital. On the afternoon of 30 March 1880, King Alfonso XII and Queen María Cristina officially opened it.
In order to commemorate this event, the Spanish Railways Foundation, through its Madrid Railway Museum and in collaboration with the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, Renfe, Adif and Madrid City Council, has organised the temporary exhibition “Madrid-Delicias. 140 years of a station,” which pays tribute to the building that has housed the Museum since 1984.
The exhibition can be visited at www.museodelferrocarril.org. The oldest of the three monumental stations in Madrid (with Atocha and Príncipe Pío), thanks to Delicias station the capital began to follow the path of other European cities in terms of large railway buildings.
Using documents from the Historical Railway Archive and the Railway Library, as well as graphic sources from other archives and collections from numerous public and private institutions that have collaborated, the Museum team has prepared a virtual tour through fifteen sections, in which visitors to the online exhibition can learn about the most interesting aspects of the passenger building, one of the best examples of 19th-century iron architecture in Madrid, its architectural characteristics and its important historical and artistic value, which forms an indisputable part of railways and cultural heritage.
First of all, the construction project of the station designed by the French engineer Émile Cachelièvre, who devised an innovative building made of an iron structure, with prefabricated pieces made in series and assembled with rivets, generating an extensive, diaphanous space covered without intermediate supports, crosspieces, braces or bulwarks. The building materials consisted of iron for the structure and ornamentation, brick for the walls (solid brick façades for the outer walls and ordinary whitewashed ones inside), granite for the plinths, wood for the windows and doors, and glass for the glazed screens.
Railway traffic and trains arriving and departing from Delicias play an important role in the exhibition, as do passengers who walked on its platforms. Some of these arrivals were a real event, such as that of the future King Juan Carlos I on 18 January 1955, to begin his studies at the General Military Academy in Zaragoza, or the transit of emigrants who were leaving for America from the port of Lisbon, or of those who arrived from Extremadura to settle in Madrid or continue towards the north of Spain in search of a better future.
A very active railway complex developed around the passenger building, which acted as an undeniable factor of urban, industrial and cultural dynamism. The station led to the urbanization of Madrid’s Delicias district and the appearance of workshops, as well as sports and leisure activities for railway employees. In the “Las Delicias” sports ground that was opened next to the station played “La Ferro”, a football team which lived its golden years in the 1940s.
After the end of railway traffic in Madrid-Delicias, the station was in danger of disappearing. It was saved thanks to the proposal to turn it into a railway museum, which opened its doors in Delicias on 19 December 1984. Shortly thereafter, in February 1985, the Spanish Railways Foundation was established and took over its management. Both institutions have just completed thirty-five years of history, maintaining their mission to spread knowledge about the railway and preserve its historical and cultural heritage.
There is also space in the exhibition for the artistic activities inspired by the Delicias station, the film shootings that have chosen it and currently choose it as a stage for films and TV series, or the various literary works in which Delicias is mentioned.
With this virtual exhibition the Spanish Railways Foundation and the Madrid Railway Museum join the actions being carried out by a large number of cultural institutions to offer online contents and resources to disseminate knowledge and entertain in this situation of confinement. When circumstances allow the Museum to be reopened, the exhibition can be visited on site in the magnificent setting of Madrid-Delicias station.
Link to online exhibition: www.museodelferrocarril.org