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Ed’s note: Madrid was so quaint in 1987 you’d think that was a hundred years ago
! Hard to imagine that the capital is now a modern world-class city — though, thankfully, it hasn’t lost its hometown feel. Scratch the glitzy thin surface and you’ll still find that old down-home Madrid.

Guidepost was there to tell the reader then what was new! We’re reprinting the account so that you might have an idea about how it was to live in a city that could still hardly believe it had managed, almost by a stroke of a mircale, to finally live in democracy. And yet,  it had already been over a decade since Generalissimo Franco kicked the bucket, putting an end to his four-decade dictatorship.

In 1987 the Madrileños could hardly believe their luck even though they (happily) brought it on themselves!

Talk about quaint!



We never thought they’d do it, but they did, and it’s done.

After 12 months of looking like a gold–miner’s nightmare, the heart of Spain, the Kilometre 0 from which distances are measured, has risen like a Phoenix from the mud, rubble, yellow railings and pneumatic drills. Risen is the word: the lamp standards seem as high as the moon and dwarf the giant Christmas tree. The Bear and his Strawberry Tree have been shunted over to the entrance of Calle Carmen and his old place in the center of the square is taken by the smug-faced MariBlanca – a replica of the statue that stood there a century ago.

So the last Christmas shoppers didn’t have to walk the plank over a sea of mud, and everything was clean and tidy for the traditional ceremony of eating grapes on New Year’s Eve as the Police Headquarter’s clock struck midnight.

Whether or not you like it is another matter. “A cemetery of phallic symbols” was how one onlooker described it.

But everyone living in the center of the city is only too relieved to have the road works finished to suggest they start changing it again.

More miracles have taken place under the square where the dust and darkness of the Metro renovation have been swept away to reveal marble halls of Moscovite proportions, embellished by piped music and pep talks about democracy. But rest assured Big Brother hasn’t taken over – the electric cables are still festooned in the old anarchic way.


A new cinema opened in December at number 10, Calle Francisco de Rojas (between calles Sagasta and Luchana, near Glorieta de Bilbao). It contains four different theatres and aims to show prize-winning films in their original version.

As well as good acoustics and air conditioning, Multicines Picasso has been specially designed to give easy access to people in wheelchairs.

As from January 1st 1987 there is a new composite travel pass available. For 3,100 Ptas. (3,000 is for the monthly coupon, 100 for the initial card) you can ride within the city boundaries, any time of the day, any day of the week, on:

  1. The Metro
  2. EMT buses (but not the yellow microbuses nor the special services such as those to Barajas Airport or the Zoo).
  3. RENFE trains.

If you make more than 73 journeys a month, it will save you money as well as time. If you use public transport less often, then the 10 journey ticket at 410 Ptas. remains better value on bus or Metro.

How to get a pass
Pick up an application form (solicitud de tarjeta) at any estanco [tobacconist’s].

Fill it in with your name, address, date of birth and passport or DNI number. Enclose (but don’t stick on) a recent passport-type photo. Write your passport or DNI number on the back of the photo, too.

Mark with a cross in the appropriate box if you want to collect your pass from the estanco or have it sent by mail (correo). Add the date of your application. The next (and final) two boxes for you to put your mark in have only one possible answer at present:/ Zone – A – the others won’t come into service until March or later;

Cause – Primera vez – since the system is new and it’s everybody’s first time.

When you have completed the form, take it, with the photo and 100 Ptas., to any estanco. Your personalised card will be there for you to collect five days later, or will be received by mail if so requested. With the card you can then acquire the monthly coupon by paying 3,000 Ptas.

Zone – B – Abonos B1, B2, and B3, priced at 3,500, 4,000 and 4,500 Ptas. respectively, will be valid for travelling on buses and trains connecting the villages and towns of Madrid within the zones shown on the map. This service is expected to start in March of this year.

Zone – C – An extension of the system to embrace all areas of the Community of Madrid will begin 1988.

End of reprint



Metro entrance, Puerta del Sol/Daniel Dionne, CC BY-SA2.0


Glorieta de Bilbao, near where the now closed Multicines Picasso used to be/Taiwon via Wikimedia, CC BY-SA30





Polishing off the traditional “12 grapes” not only timed to the “12 campanadas” of the clock over the Royal Mail House but also with the clicking of the castanets on New Year’s Eve at Puerta del Sol/Börkur Sigurbjörnsson, CC BY2.0


The Principe Pio: award-winning Metro and commuter-train station cum shopping mall/Consorcio Regional Transporte de Madrid