Faro de Moncloa in Madrid
T he sun was being obscured by the thickening clouds on a comfortably cool early October day as I walked northwest along Calle de la Princesa on my way to Moncloa, which is one of the 21 districts in Madrid.
Some of the buildings were defaced with graffiti on this busy straight tree-lined avenue, with merchants selling their wares; blue buses rumbling by in special lanes designated for them and taxi cabs; and people relaxing while taking a break seated at small tables at sidewalk cafés such as Iris Calzados while sipping on their beverages, lazily watching life pass by before them.
Looming in the distance was a structure which piqued my curiosity. It was called Faro de Moncloa; or the Lighthouse of Moncloa. Designed by an architect named Salvador Pérez Arroyo and officially inaugurated in February of 1992, it is a transmission tower which rises approximately 110 meters above the ground.
“The traffic junction at Avenida de los Reyes Católicos, Highway A-6 and Avenida de la Victoria is extremely busy”, according to this article posted at the official Internet web site of Go Madrid. “While Faro de Moncloa was principally designed as a high point for holding transmission antennas, it also serves as an illumination source for the busy traffic junction below. Twenty projector lamps with a combined capacity of 40,000 watts light up the area. It is mainly for this reason that it is called Faro, or Lighthouse, de Moncloa.”
Also included in the tower is an observation deck for visitors to enjoy the views — something which I wanted to do. Unfortunately — approximately seven years after its inauguration — the Faro de Moncloa was closed to the public because it did not conform with the safety standards which went into effect as a result of a massive blaze which ultimately devastated the Windsor Building on Saturday night, February 12, 2005. Greater than 100 firefighters battled that evening to prevent the uncontrollable blaze from spreading to other buildings. To prevent the possibility of a disaster similar to this one from happening again in the future, new fire regulations were released from City Hall in Madrid; and the Faro de Moncloa was closed shortly after — chiefly because the spiral staircase within the shaft of the building was only 80 centimeters wide at that time…
…but the tower was still closed when I arrived back in October, with at that time no word on when it would open again. Standing stark and empty against the overcast sky, its futuristic design — reminiscent of those constructed between the 1950s and 1970s — reminded me of such dated relics as the stadium located in Olympic Park in Montréal; but years have elapsed since I was there and it may have been improved since.
It was evident that it was under construction; but it simultaneously felt cold, lonely and depressing — probably because of very few people being near it on that cloudy day. If it was not so prominent in the Moncloa skyline, I would have even ventured to think that the structure was simply neglected and forgotten…
…but the good news is that the Faro de Moncloa was once again opened to the public in recent months — alas, several months too late for me when I visited Madrid.
The Royal Palace, the Almudena Cathedral, the Telefónica building on the Gran Via, the four towers and background, and the Sierra de Guadarramacan mountain range can be seen through the windows from the observation deck.
Faro de Moncloa
Avenida Arco de la Victoria, 2 28040 Madrid
915 501 251 Telephone
Hours of Operation
- Tuesday to Sunday from 9:30 in the morning through 8:30 in the evening, with the last pass sold at 7:30 in the evening
- Closed on Mondays
- The tour desk is open seven days per week from 9:30 in the morning to 8:30 in the evening
- Three euros for general admission
- 1.5 euros for people who are:
- Children between the ages of 7 and 14 years of age
- Adults older than 65 years of age
- Children six years of age and younger are admitted free of charge
Trains on lines 3 and 6 of the Metro de Madrid stop at the Moncloa station a few blocks southeast of the Faro de Moncloa.
Buses on routes 44, 46, 82, 83, 132, 133, 160, 162, A and G stop near Faro de Moncloa.