A surprising railway station
in the capital of Spain by Anne Sewell
in Madrid - Madrid Self-Catering
Apartments - Madrid Travel Guide
|Anyone traveling through
Madrid's main Atocha railway station in the last twenty years will remember
the beautiful, tropical garden in the station's main concourse. What they
might not know is that around 300 turtles have happily taken refuge there.
Basically the tropical garden
has now become a welcoming refuge to homeless turtles.
There are many reasons for
the turtles being in the station. Some were brought there because children
lost interest in them. Others are there because, for some reason or another,
people could no longer keep them as pets.
Another reason could be that
people might not have been prepared, or able, to pay the 40 percent ticket
price to take the turtle on a train and found a quick solution to the problem.
Whatever the reason, the
station's indoor wetlands have been populated with approximately 300 turtles,
giving a little glimpse of nature to passengers passing through the station.
The state railway company,
Renfe, has employed Aurora Peña to look after the turtles.
She told the local newspaper El Pais: “We give them animal feed, to make
sure they are properly nourished.”
Indicating the turtles,
grouped on rocks and other platforms in the water, surrounded by fine white
sand, she said: “This is the area we have set aside for them to lay their
Explaining that normally
turtles living in a tropical sea would head to a remote and protected beach
to lay their eggs, and then incubate them, she said that the little expanse
of sand in the tropical garden is the closest they will get to a beach
in the Spanish capital. However, at the last count in 2012, there
were 275 resident turtles.
“We take them out one by
one, we count them and we tidy them up a bit,” says Peña.
||According to Peña,
the population has stayed relatively stable over the years. Those that
have died have been replaced by people's former pets.
Not a bad place for a turtle
to end up these days and definitely a distraction from the boredom of waiting
for your train.
The gardens alone are worth
the visit. With over 7,000 plants in neatly manicured garden beds, with
some reaching the station's domed ceiling, it’s like another world in the
center of the busy city. There are reportedly around 260 different
tropical species among the plants, and they even include towering palm
Normally a railway station
is somewhere you just pass through when on vacation, but Atocha railway
station has actually received reviews on Tripadvisor
for its tropical garden and inhabitants.
in Madrid / Madrid Self-Catering
to Madrid Travel Guide