Madrid Monument

Messages to the dead are inscribed on a glass monument commemorating the victims of the terrorist train bombings in Madrid on 11 March 2004. The 11m-high cylinder, by Spanish architecture practice FAM, stands outside Atocha, the city’s largest railway station.

Visitors can view the inside of the tower from a blue underground chamber. Light filters down through the structure illuminating the messages of condolence written in the days after the attack. The messages, in 30 languages, commemorate those lost to the ten bombs planted on four trains destined for Atocha.

The entrance to the chamber is from the main station lobby, and FAM architect Miguel Jaenicke Fontao says the practice wanted to create a contrasting experience, “a dark, silent space, a room for reflection where you feel the difference from the station, with its shops and 400,000 people a day rushing through it”. He says the tower “connects both worlds”, above and below ground. Despite the structure’s 11m height, the thousands of messages were designed to be clear and large enough to be fully legible to visitors standing beneath it.

The names of the 191 victims are etched into a glass wall that stands in the ten-square-metre foyer where visitors wait before viewing the tower.

Published in Icon magazine, June 2007

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