Special Glass for a Monument

The glass monument across from the Atocha train station pays tribute to the victims of terrorist attacks in Madrid. (Photo: J. Meyer)
Amaya Quincoces

Glass Sets the Stage
for Sorrow

On March 11, 2007, a glass memorial was inaugurated in Madrid by the King and Queen of Spain. It pays tribute to the victims of the worst terrorist attack in the country’s history. SCHOTT supplied the glass components for the monument.

The act of state was accompanied by near silence. All that could be heard was a voice over the loudspeaker that escorted the inauguration ceremony. Then, two representatives of the Madrid Police Department dressed in ceremonial uniforms entered carrying a laurel wreath and the official flag of the royal couple. Don Juan Carlos and Doña Sofia laid down the wreath in front of the memorial and remained standing next to it. Three minutes of silence followed, then applause and an interpretation of »Cant dels Ocells« (The Song of the Birds) from Pau Casal, the famous Catalonian composer. The thoughts of those in attendance focused on the attack and the victims it left. On March 11, 2004, exactly three years earlier, 191 people were killed and nearly 2,000 injured when bombs exploded in several trains at the Atocha train station and other stations during rush hour, shortly before eight o’clock. The memorial was inaugurated at the very site across from the round train station building. It is an oval shaped glass cylinder that weighs 140 tons, is 11 meters high and has a diameter of 8 by 10.5 meters. According to the architects from fam in Madrid, a ”completely new” construction was used to build it. The glass specialist SCHOTT supplied the glass blocks required to build it.

The complete monument consists of two parts, the glass cylinder and an underground presentation room. Both parts are linked together by a round window. This is designed to create the impression that the memorial, as a ”shimmer of hope”, rises up towards the city from the depth of the train station, the ”site of sorrow”. Inside the glass cylinder, spontaneous expressions of sorrow from citizens were engraved into a transparent plastic film. Each day at sunrise and sunset, the incident light illuminates these, thanks to the transparency and illuminating power of the glass construction.

The relatives of the victims and more than 1,500 people injured during the attack took part in the ceremony held under high security precautions. The Prince and Princess of Asturias, the Spanish Minister President, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, and the Mayor of Madrid were among the more prominent guests. Several hundred media representatives participated in the ceremony shown on Spanish television. Representatives of SCHOTT were also in attendance, including Chairman of the Board of Management, Prof. Udo Ungeheuer, Managing Director of SCHOTT Ibérica, Luis Alberto Solá, and the person responsible for the project, Lluis Trias. Udo Ungeheuer was deeply moved. ”Those who were there immediately sensed the pain in the eyes of the people affected and shared their deep sorrow. I am proud that SCHOTT was selected to make a contribution towards this memorial.”
A worthy act of state: Spain’s royal couple pays tribute to the victims (above middle). King Juan Carlos thanks those involved in the project, including Chairman of the Board of Management of SCHOTT, Prof. Udo Ungeheuer (above left). The inscriptions in the presentation room under the memorial (below right) are illuminated by incident light. (Photo: J. Meyer)