The "Pez de Cristal" - or "Glass Fish" - will be inaugurated as the new landmark in Madrid's Puerta del Sol on Saturday, 27 June 2009 at 11am and will be presided over by the President of the Comunidad de Madrid, Esperanza Aguirre & Spain's President JosÃ© Luis RodrÃguez Zapatero. The first day of normal operation will be Sunday, 28 June 2009 at 5:15am. The controversial structure, in the rounded shape of a fish, was likened by Esperanza Aguirre herself (the Regional President of Madrid) as what the glass pyramid is to Paris' The Louvre Museum. Well, I don't know about all that but it does have 'glass' and 'controversy' in common at the very least.
Just what is the "Pez de Cristal" and why do we need it? This is a good question, one many of us will be trying to answer for at least 5 years in the future (if the fish lasts that long). The Glass Fish is the entry/exit to the new CercanÃas-train hub, the only one now in Old Downtown Madrid, allowing natural light into the belly of the enormous space below ground. This station will also connect cercanÃas lines between Chamartin and Atocha train stations, completing the infamous"TÃºnel de la risa", and carrying passengers directly to Kilometro 0 without taking metro or buses as was before necessary.
The new station will also connect metro lines 1, 2, and 3 with cercanias lines - but I have to wonder if the old, historical Puerta del Sol metro station entry points will now be removed. Surely not. Apparently, the below ground space is large enough to house a 60-story building horizontally, making it the largest below-ground man-made cavern in the world. Also, some of the remains of the Buen Suceso Church, unearthed during the excavation, will be on display. Their discovery, in large part, delayed the station's construction due to their careful study and examination.
Many people in the blogosphere think the comparison of the Glass Fish with the Glass Pyramid of Paris' The Louvre is far fetched. They are both glass, that's true. They both are comprised of attached glass panels, allowing natural light into the space below ground. Many other bloggers also think the introduction of a super-modern structure into the historical Puerta del Sol is a mistake. Still others believe the fish will be covered in graffiti and the panels scratched and marred within days. This IS likely to happen.
It's always nice to have something which adds to the skyline or structures which give people the impression that something "new" is going on, staving off that old, hum-drum, complacent, boring aspect which many historical cities eventually face - and it's true that Madrid has very little of that going on as compared to (dare I?!?) Barcelona. Personally, I think a better choice could've been made. I commend their goals, however.
I'm anxious for the inauguration of this new station on Saturday, to take a first look for myself, which will seemingly end (?) nearly 5-years of construction on Madrid's Puerta del Sol. Its inauguration will be the headline and lead news story for Madrid (and many Spanish) news media outlets this week.
Today, on its first day of operation, I made my maiden-visit to the brand-new CercanÃas station in Madrid's Puerta del Sol. The controversial entryway is in the shape, it is said, of a "Glass Fish" or "Pez de Cristal", and does pose a striking structure in the otherwise traditional space of the plaza.
Thousands of people were onhand today, probably not so many to actually ride the cercanias train as they were taking photos and walking about to see their new landmark. Countless media outlets were stringing cable, conducting on-camera interviews, and recording the event for their own television stations.
One could go down the escalators as far as the common area but all the good stuff, it seemed, was on the other side of the electronic turnstiles - so I didn't go in. From the public area I could see the brand new LED screens, shiny automated ticket machines, and, from a distance, the behind-glass-remains of the Iglesia del Buen Suceso on the other side and down one level from the ticket turnstiles. There's surprisingly little to see in the common area and so to appreciate "The World's Largest ManMade Underground Cavern" one must buy a ticket and pass through.
Everything was clean, new, and wonderfully modern. I have to wonder how long the exterior will be free of graffiti, though.
Alot had been said about this completing nearly 5 or 6 years of construction on the Puerta del Sol - but that wasn't evident today where possibly only 15% of the entire place was open to pedestrians. The other 85% was closed off by barricades and fenses, construction materials and machinery scattered about. I, like a lot of people, I'm sure, expected to not only find a new cercanias station but also a completed Puerta del Sol free of construction. That was a disappointment.
It seems, at least at first look, that most of which remains is the placement of paving stones but some barricaded areas lead one to believe that some work is yet to be done in Kilometro 0. We'll wait and see but once it's done, we'll all be happy.
what a thoughtless station architecturally but engineering wise amazing well worth watching how large a cave they can make like ants...
This cave is below buildings it seems! insane...