The Madrid metro: a great underground film set

Over the years, the Madrid metro has become one of the most common locations for audiovisual productions of all kinds. This means of transport is part of the daily life of many locals and tourists who visit Madrid. Its tunnels, stations and trains have become a unique space for bringing to life exciting stories that you have already seen in a film or series. So it’s not surprising that Film Madrid has highlighted this fictional setting by proposing an original tour around the capital. From thrilling chases to ephemeral romances, come and discover the most cinematographic side of the suburban train.

The most famous locations in Madrid’s metro system

The metro, which has become the setting for all kinds of fiction, has acquired a narrative value of its own. The narrow corridors, the flashing lights, the constant noise of the trains and the crowds of passengers create an authentic atmosphere that immerses the spectator in the plot. This is the magic that surrounds the route designed by Film Madrid under the name “Metro de Madrid, a great set under your feet”. By following its interactive map you will be able to travel through the capital from end to end and relive the stories that got you “hooked” on the screen.

Scene from “La casa de papel” filmed at the Banco de España station / Vancouver Media and Netflix / Film Madrid

On this journey you will come across nostalgic references such as “Atraco a las tres” (1962), “Estoy hecho un chaval” (1973) or the scene in “El Verdugo” (1963) where Berlanga chose the Carabanchel station for José Luis (Nino Manfredi) to return to his executioner father-in-law, Pepe Isbert, the briefcase he had left behind in his hearse. In the 1980s, Pedro Almodóvar used the metro in his film “Laberinto de Pasiones” (1982), showing Cecilia Roth putting on make-up in the metro, and in “Las bicicletas son para el verano” (1984) directed by Jaime Chávarri, the metro becomes an air-raid shelter during the war. 

Nowadays, the Madrid metro continues to be a very active setting in the audiovisual industry. An example of this is the thrilling chase scene in the third episode of the HBO series “30 coins”, which takes place in a suspenseful atmosphere in the tunnels and platforms of the Alonso Martínez station. In the successful series “La casa de papel”, produced by Vancouver Media and Atresmedia, the emblematic scene in which the main characters, dressed in the recognisable red overalls and Dalí masks, meet outside the Casa de la Moneda, was filmed in the Callao metro station. Also “García!”, the recent HBO series, has the stations of Madrid as a backdrop for the adventures of this spy.

García arriving at the metro with Gran Vía in the background / HBO + / Film Madrid

The Film Madrid route will reveal all these anecdotes as you move from one place to another. But we also recommend a visit to “Chamberí Station”, now a museum. This is where Fernando León de Aranoa filmed “Barrio” (1998) and later Nacho Álvarez filmed the meeting of the protagonists of his film “Explota Explota” (2020). Do you want to know more? We tell you all about it.

Chamberí Metro Station, Andén Cero

This metro station, with its period architecture and decoration, has been one of the most popular filming locations over the years, and not surprisingly.also known as the ghost station, it is a 1919 station that ceased to function as such in 1966. The station was left with the decoration of the first half of the 20th century. White tiles reminiscent of Sevillian tiles, ceramic advertising posters from the 1920s, turnstiles, tickets, furniture, countless details and a very neat aesthetic.

Chamberí station is a museum where time stood still in the 1950s / Film Madrid

This station will take you back to the Madrid of the 1950s just a few steps down. Although it was abandoned for many years, in 2008 it reopened as a museum, maintaining its original aesthetics. A visit to the station is one of the most original plans in the capital. It is open from Thursday to Sunday and admission is free. The entrance is in the Plaza de Chamberí, one of the most recommended neighbourhoods in Madrid, and if you visit the station you can’t miss the neighbourhood, famous for its traditional character, its gastronomic offer and its welcoming atmosphere.

Chamberí of Cine

A must-visit, in Chamberí you’ll experience the Madrid of a lifetime. This is a neighbourhood with personality and historical charm where, in addition to the station, you’ll find other attractions that you shouldn’t miss. The Globomedia series “El internado” was filmed here, as well as films such as “El bar” (2017) by Álex de la Iglesia and “La gran familia española” (2013) by Daniel Sánchez Arevalo. And if you are a true lover of Spanish cinema, we recommend you visit the red cabin erected in the Plaza del Conde Valle de Suchil, as a tribute to the film “La Cabina” (1972) by Antonio Mercero. This production, which won an International Emmy Award and ended up becoming a legend of our cinema, starred Jose Luis López Vázquez in the last years of Franco’s regime. 

And from the seventh art we move on to another artistic field, complementing this stroll through this iconic neighbourhood with an essential visit.  We are now referring to the Sorolla Museum, a place of reference. The painter lived here with his family and the building alone is worth a visit. Outside it has three gardens, one inspired by the Alcazar of Seville, another in homage to the Alhambra in Granada and a third, in Italian style. Another well-known building in the area is the Hospital de Maudes, although today it is the offices of the Community of Madrid, it housed the first free hospital for the workers of Madrid.

Filming of “UPA Next” at the Paco de Lucía / Film Madrid station

The next suggestion before ending your stroll through Chamberí is to enjoy the pleasures of good food. Don’t forget to stop off at Calle Ponzano, one of the capital’s culinary landmarks, with something to suit all tastes and budgets. The Vallehermoso market is also a must for gourmets, as it is a historic municipal market that has been reinvented as one of the most interesting gastronomic proposals in the city.

Madrid is one of the most visited screen tourism destinations in the country, and no wonder. Thanks to the work of Film Madrid and Madrid Film Office, lovers of films, series and all kinds of audiovisual productions have a lot to see and experience in the capital. And the fact is that these entities not only attract and facilitate filming in the capital, but also design proposals to discover the city and the whole Community in a different way. What are you waiting for to find out?

Por Víctor Cervelló

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