Madrid, a city known for its iconic monuments, is mostly known for its cool central neighborhoods. There are numerous scenic spots offering beautiful views of the city within the downtown district. Some are more renowned than others. One such overlooked location for breathtaking panoramic views is the Faro de Moncloa.
This tower is positioned right in the middle of Ciudad Universitaria, which is considered an ideal area to stay in Madrid. The city’s flat landscape makes the lighthouse an even better vantage point. On a clear day, you can catch many of Madrid’s most famous landmarks from this avant-garde “lighthouse”.
You might wonder how much it costs to visit Faro de Moncloa or what attractions can be seen from its summit. To address these questions and share interesting facts about this tower, we have created this informative article.
Moncloa Lighthouse: What You Need to Know
History of the Lighthouse of Moncloa de Madrid
Although its appearance may make you think it is older, Faro de Moncloa was inaugurated in 1992. In fact, this building began operating just the year Madrid was awarded the European Capital of Culture distinction.
The project for the Torre de Iluminación y Comunicaciones del Ayuntamiento de Madrid, the official name of the lighthouse, was designed by Salvador Pérez Arroyo.
This transmission tower measures 110 meters, and its observation platform is 92 meters high. Today, the lighthouse is the 13th tallest building in Madrid.
It’s possible that the Madrid architect intentionally planned for the observation deck’s height to match the year the tower was inaugurated. The lighthouse opened in 1992, a significant year for Spain due to the Universal Exposition in Seville and the Olympic Games in Barcelona.
Climbing the Moncloa Lighthouse in Madrid
The panoramic elevator at the Faro de Moncloa allows for a speedy climb to the viewpoint. If you’re like me, you might spend the one-minute ride (50 seconds to be exact) filming the surroundings.
Once you reach the top, you can enter the observation deck of the lighthouse. The viewpoint is covered by large windows with huge crystals in front of which you can see the famous sky of Madrid. The viewpoint also offers panoramic views of the city, making it a great place to take photos and enjoy the outdoors.
There are many things to see and do at the Faro de Moncloa, so make sure to take your time and explore the area.
Facing the platform, one can observe the administrative building of the Complutense University of Madrid, which functions as its rectorate. While it may not be a highly iconic location within the city, the structure, nestled among lush trees, offers an appealing backdrop for photographs. Additionally, situated to the right lies the notable Museum of America, boasting a fascinating collection and engaging exhibits about the New World.
As we proceed towards the left, we will come across the Arco de la Victoria, also known as the Victory Arch. This triumphal arch was constructed to honor the victory of fascist Francisco Franco’s forces over the Republican army. Consequently, the arch’s continued existence is somewhat controversial and peculiar. The structure is often referred to as Puerta de Moncloa due to its similarities with both Puerta de Alcalá and Puerta de Toledo.
Another noteworthy building that can be seen from this vantage point is the Headquarters of the Air and Space Army.
Nonetheless, the truly spectacular vistas lie to the west of Madrid’s Faro de Moncloa observation tower.
As you proceed towards the left, you will come across iconic Madrid landmarks such as the magnificent Almudena Cathedral and the grand Royal Palace.
The Gran Vía, in particular the Telefónica building and the Cuatro Torres, as well as the Kio Towers, are visible from the viewpoint. If the weather is good, you can even see the Sierra de Guadarrama in the distance as a backdrop.
And if you don’t know which building you are looking at or where to look, don’t worry. This observation platform has informative railings with scale reproductions of the most important monuments that can be observed.
Is Faro de Moncloa Worth It?
Every tourist should go up to the Faro de Moncloa de Madrid during a visit. Although there are viewpoints in the center with better views and no glass in between, the experience is still worth it. Mind you, the observation platform is crescent-shaped, so you can’t expect 360º panoramas.
You will find a vending machine with drinks and a souvenir shop at the observation deck.
Controversies over the Moncloa Lighthouse in Madrid
If you ask anyone living in Madrid, chances are they have not yet climbed the Moncloa lighthouse. Since its inauguration, the tower, which cost 12 million euros to build, has been closed “temporarily” several times. Moreover, some claim that the lighthouse has been closed for longer than the time it has been open.
Among the reasons that led to this tower’s closure stand out a detachment of parts of its facade and a fire in 2016. For their part, repairs over time have totaled almost 8 million euros.
In addition, the lighthouse was controversial from the first moment, as it completely disagreed with the aesthetics of the area in which it was located. But this tower remains unclaimed, unlike other European monuments that became iconic over time, such as the Eiffel Tower. And the space-era aspect of the building is out of tune with the palaces surrounding it in University City.
The Moncloa lighthouse divides the opinion of the people of Madrid as very few constructions do. On the one hand, some consider it one of the ugliest buildings in the city. While on the other hand, some think that this tower that stands out among the trees of the Parque del Oeste has its charm. The truth is that the lighthouse seems to leave no one indifferent, and, at this point, it is hard to imagine Madrid’s skyline without it. And you, which side are you on?
Moncloa Lighthouse in Madrid: Tips for a perfect visit
- Pay attention to the weather. Good weather will not only allow your photos and videos to turn out well, but also ensures that the Faro de Moncloa is open. If it is too windy, for example, the lookout remains closed for safety reasons.
- Check the official website of the Faro de Moncloa in Madrid. Through the page you can buy your tickets in advance and see the opening hours of this attraction. I advance you that on Mondays the lighthouse is closed, but check the page because there may be exceptions. The moncloa lighthouse website is: https://tienda.madrid-destino.com/es/faro-de-moncloa/visitas-faro-de-moncloa-4/.
- Charge your cell phone and/or camera. It may seem obvious, but we often forget to charge our cell phone or camera and run out of battery at the worst moment. Ensure your device’s battery and memory capture many videos and panoramic views.
- Combine the visit with other attractions in the area. Going to Madrid’s Moncloa Lighthouse doesn’t take long, so you could also visit the Museum of America or the Parque del Oeste. Parque del Oeste, one of the best in the city, is beautiful in spring, with a rose garden of contests and perfect picnic areas.
Frequently asked questions about the Moncloa Lighthouse of Madrid
The Faro de Moncloa is located at Avenida de la Memoria 2, 28040, in the Moncloa-Aravaca district of Madrid.
The cost of the general admission is 4 euros. For its part, the reduced admission (for seniors over 65 and children between 7 and 14 years) costs 2 euros. There is also a super-reduced rate for children 6 years old and under.
3 types of public transport can be used to reach the Moncloa Lighthouse in Madrid:
– Metro: Moncloa (line 3 and line 6)
– Bus: A, 46, 160, 161 and 162
– Bicimad: The nearest station is 10, located at Paseo de Moret 2.
The observation deck is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9:30 am to 8:00 pm (last ascent at 7:30 pm). The ticket office is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. There are special hours at Christmas. On December 24 and 31 it is closed to the public at 5:00 pm (last ascent at 4:30 pm). Also, on December 25 and January 1 it opens at 11 am.
Tickets for the Faro de Moncloa can be purchased at the box office or through the website https://tienda.madrid-destino.com/es/faro-de-moncloa/visitas-faro-de-moncloa-4/.
Read about our tips for a first trip to Madrid.