Welcome to my "Atocha Station" description page, for photos & videos of this site click --> HERE.
Long time "madrileños" remember the old Atocha train station as a crowded and dingy place with all the tracks where the greenhouse is now located. Now the old station is light and airy, full of plants and statues with benches and cafés for relaxing before taking a train, or just to get a dose of greenery when Madrid's winter gets a little too long.
Atocha station was the first train station in Madrid. Built in 1851, it was fairly near the Plaza Mayor but at the same time outside the city, right beyond the Atocha city gate. To build the station, the irregular site had to be filled and levelled, though raising it to street level was impossible (all this without bulldozers!) so the station is considerably below the surrounding streets. Today's "old" station is from 1892, the original building having burned in the 1860's. Take a close look at the ironwork inside (good views from the moving ramps) and don't miss the view of the greenhouse from the upper level. Outside, check out the brickwork then look up around the roof on the west end for ironwork detail showing names of important Spanish cities.
The "new" Atocha station includes tracks for the long distance trains (just south of the old station) where the AVE for Sevilla starts its run, and the commuter trains, east of the long distance trains; the two are connected by a gallery that runs perpendicular to the old station. As is often the case, many people think that the agressively modern style of the new station is just the wrong thing for the classic style of the old station, citing especially the strange round brick building that sticks up over the new station and the rather unfriendly feeling of the new part of the building. But whatever people think about the station itself, it must be admitted that the AVE simplifies transportation to the southwest, though the charm of the older night trains has been lost and some of the local trains deleted. For short run service, the commuter trains move an amazing number of people in a fairly efficient manner, with direct connections from the station to the subway and easy access to some bus lines.
Other: the official website on RENFE (Spanish Rail Company) is at www.renfe.es