Renovations at Madrid’s Gran Vía station uncover 1919 lift shaft

Work at the site has been stopped until authorities determine the value of the find and whether it needs to be conserved

Original entrance to the Gran Vía metro station.
Original entrance to the Gran Vía metro station.MADRID, CIUDADANÍA Y PATRIMONIO
Miguel Ángel Medina

Renovations at the Gran Vía Metro station in Madrid have uncovered a lift shaft designed by legendary Spanish architect Antonio Palacios in 1917 and built in 1919. The region’s Directorate for Cultural Heritage stopped all further work on the site this week in order to study the find, and determine whether the scheduled renovations should continue.

Cultural heritage advocates are calling for the remains to be included in the plans to upgrade the station.

It is too soon to say if it is going to affect the project at the station Transport Department spokesperson

The Gran Vía Metro station is undergoing a €15.5 million facelift to become completely wheelchair accessible. Once the work is complete, the station will have six new escalators, four lifts and an underground passenger tunnel connecting to neighboring Sol Metro station.

The project also includes a plan to reconstruct Palacio’s famous entranceway, which stood from 1919 to 1969, when it was removed during renovations to connect the station to Line 5 on the Metro network. The lift shaft was found exactly where the entranceway used to be. “It is a very important find because it is part of the original structure of the station, with the walls it was designed with,” said a spokesperson from the Madrid, People and Patrimony Association. “The bore of the shaft is 15 meters deep. We will have to see if the inside part is well conserved, we believe the shaft could go all the way down,” they add.

Given a replica of the entranceway is already on the cards, the association believes it is a good idea to “restore the original entrance to the station designed by Antonio Palacio,” who also designed the first layout of Madrid’s Metro line, the emblematic Círculo de Bellas Artes building and the Cibeles Palace.

The lift shaft found at Gran Vía station.
The lift shaft found at Gran Vía station.MADRID, CIUDADANÍA Y PATRIMONIO

A spokesperson for the Directorate for Cultural Heritage of Madrid said that once the lift shaft was found, an expert from their department was sent out to the site and ordered all work to stop at once. “We have asked a team of archeologists to continue excavating to see what’s below, how much of the original structure has been conserved and what was destroyed by the renovations done to the station in the 1970s,” they add.

The Directorate for Cultural Heritage will now study the remains to determine whether they need to be conserved and, if this is the case, how the renovation plans can be modified.

But according to a spokesperson from the transport department,“it is too soon to say if it is going to affect the project at the station.” “Once we found the remains we advised the Directorate of Cultural Heritage, which is the department that has to put together a report and establish if what is found has value, if it has to be protected, and in this case, how to do it,” they explain.

The renovations at the Gran Vía station have also uncovered an entranceway designed by Palacios dating back to 1934. The region’s cultural heritage department has not yet determined whether the discovery is of value and needs to be conserved.

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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