Planeta Arganzuela Mural in Madrid, Spain - Atlas Obscura

Planeta Arganzuela Mural

A neighborhood represented by an apparent geocentric and flat-earth model of the Solar System is hidden in the subway of Madrid. 


Metro de Madrid, the underground transport service in the capital uses to pay homage in its subway stations to architectural or artistic landmarks of those places that due to their proximity, may be interesting for users or tourists who travel on this public transport. Hence, the inauguration of this new Metro Station in 2007 and the nearby planetarium justified this astronomical-inspired mural.

The first thing that catches our attention is the ceramic huge disk of five meters in diameter that represents the Earth. Blue and green colors abound in it. There is a model composed of the streets of this Madrid neighborhood in which the green color represents the Tierno Galván Park where the planetarium is located and occupies a predominant position.

The near motorway M-30 painted in blue represents the sea. The disc that levitates against the starry background is surrounded by the rest of the planets, which are displayed in an orderly way from the Sun. However it is not represented here, granted this role to the Earth, since all the other worlds seem to orbit around the blue-green disc. The size and distance between them don’t correspond to reality and also appears Pluto, which was condemned to be a dwarf planet by the International Astronomical Union.

Someone might argue that this mural represents a Ptolemaic model of our Solar System but it is not entirely what it seems: It is actually a form of artistic expression in which the authors have wanted to give the Earth and especially this area of Madrid a predominant role, far from other pseudoscientific connotations. The authors are the designer Luis Sardá de Abreu and the ceramist Carlos Alonso, who together have worked on other important projects such as the Lisbon Universal Exposition in 1998, where they created a large mural with 5,000 pieces for the United Nations Pavilion.

They also have decorated several stations in the Madrid subway network, such as Terminal 1-2-3 of the Airport or Campo de las Naciones. For this piece in Arganzuela-Planetarium metro station, they received the first place award for murals in 2006, the same year that Pluto was banished by the IAU. So, this solar system is surely one of the last representations in which the dwarf planet appears with its “older siblings.”

Know Before You Go

This metro station is situated in the Line 6 (grey) between Legazpi and Mendez Álvaro, being this one the nearest to the Planetarium.

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