Friday, October 2, 2015

Day 2: The First Spanish Sky Crapper

(Of course I mean sky scraper. Sky crapper is a common EFL mistake here in Spain, one that I am slow to correct because it makes me giggle...)

Anyway, on to today's building. If you've been to Madrid, or seen any publicity for travel to Madrid, you've seen this building. It's not technically a sky scraper - there are only 25 stories - but in a city where the average building height is only six stories, it is indeed a visible landmark. The Edificio España, or Spain Building, was completed in 1953 and was the tallest building in the country at that time (it's now tied for number 22, 8th in the capital). 

Neo-baroque in style, it reminds me of Stalin's 7 Sisters in Moscow. This makes even more sense when we look at the building's symbolic purpose - a testament to prosperity and modernity during Franco's regime.

Edificio España
Originally a hotel, the building's prime location across from the Plaza España must have afforded some wonderful views. Frances Mayes writes about visiting the restaurant on the top floor, with all of Madrid at her feet, in her book A Year in the World (by the way, if you love travelling, you should read this book!).  During the 80s movida, the hotel and neighbourhood became known for housing drug addicts and fell into decline. The building was sold and meant to be reopened, but after renovating the facade, the project fizzled out in 2010 and the building has been sitting empty, inviting speculation from everyone who walks by. I like to creep myself out by looking for lights in the windows at night. ;)

i sure hope that fire escape continues somewhere!
While the building has gone from being a sign of prosperity to a sign of economic collapse, it remains a beloved part of the Madrid streetscape by locals and tourists alike.  

I'm excited to say that the building was recently purchased (if you´re interested, by Dalian Wanda, a Chinese real estate group). Deciding to sell such an iconic building to foreigners created some controversy, but I say the real shame would be letting it fall into further disrepair. 

Plans to reopen Edificio España as a hotel, offices, shopping centre and luxury apartments are underway, with a timeline of just four years! Perhaps I'll be able to enjoy that rooftop meal after all... 

And in case you were wondering, sky scraper in Spanish is rascacielos.


  1. I love that building and I would pay any price to visit a restaurant/cafe inside. In such a significant spot, it will be good for it to be renovated and in use.

  2. So much potential! It looks... vast.

    1. There really is, I am excited to see what they do with it!