Estación Príncipe Pio, MadridCategory: Madrid
If you’re planning to visit Madrid, the capital and largest city in Spain, one of the sites you should definitely check out is the Estación Príncipe Pio. To demonstrate why this is such a popular locale for tourists and local Madrileños, below we have provided a brief profile of the Estación Príncipe Pio, including some information regarding its function, location and its long and interesting history.
Estación Príncipe Pio: Overview
Located in the Midwestern section of Madrid, the Estación Príncipe Pio is one of the city’s principal railway and bus stations. The station has a number of purposes. It services a few lines for RENFE, Spain’s state-owned railway company, serving mostly commuter rail traffic for that company, shuttling workers to and from some of Madrid’s most well-known suburbs. It is also one of the hubs for Madrid’s Metro bus station, serving lines 6 and 10, and a stop for the Ramal branch of the Madrid Metro, a shuttle service between Príncipe Pío and the station at Ópera.
Because of its many functions, Estación Príncipe Pio is known as an intercambiador, or in English, a transport interchange. The station is situated in an area that’s surrounded on all sides by the Glorieta de San Vicente roundabout, Cuesta de San Vicente, and the streets of Paseo de la Florida and Paseo del Rey. Tourists staying in this area, who are looking to travel through Madrid by bus to visit the some of the city’s most famed attractions, can head to the Estación Príncipe Pio, which since 2005 has been expanded to include a major shopping center, complete with restaurants, bars, cafes and movie cinemas.
The Estación Príncipe Pio has a long history, dating back to 1845, when a line proposed from Madrid to Irun, a city in the far north of Spain, set off the idea to construct a new station in this section of the city. Construction was slow-going at first, however, with far too many delays to count. Firs there were arguments over where the station would be built, followed by a dispute between the cities of Avila and Segovia, which both wanted the station to run through their area. Finally it was decided the station would be built at the base of La Montaña del Principe Pio, a hill in the western part of Madrid, named after the renowned Prince Pius of Savoy.
In those early years, the Estación Príncipe Pio was considered nothing more than a temporary station, and an unattractive one at that. Historians say it was the only station ever built in Madrid that did not initially receive a proper inauguration or any accolades from the city, and was visited by locals only by necessity.
In the mid nineteenth century, the line serving Madrid and Irun was interrupted due to the Carlist Wars of the time, causing the Estación Príncipe Pio to shut down for a period. It was reopened in 1876, however, and by the year 1880, 200,000 passengers and over 90,000 tons of goods had traveled south to the Estación Príncipe Pio from Irun.
Many renovations and expansions to the Estación Príncipe Pio have occurred since its opening. With the growing amount of traffic, the original station was much too small to accommodate the growing number of passengers, and while construction of a second station began in 1882, the station would not be finished for another 20 years. The year 1928 saw another major renovation to the Estación Príncipe Pio, particularly some new construction to the front portion of the main station facing the Paseo de San Vicente.
Towards the end of the 1960s, the Estación Príncipe Pio began operating on a partial basis only, and was more or less closed to the general public. This was caused by the construction of the new Chamartín station, which like the Estación Príncipe Pio served the north part of Spain, only the Chamartín station was newer and in a better location. As the population grew in Madrid, however, the need for the Estación Príncipe Pio was once again evident, and in 1979 the station finally reopened, this time for good. Since that time there have many, many facelifts to the structure, including the major renovation in 2005 we mentioned, which transformed the station into one of Madrid’s most popular meeting and entertainment locales.