From Madrid to heaven
By Sergio Perez
There is a local proverb which goes, “De Madrid al Cielo” (From Madrid to heaven). Coinciding with efforts to illustrate a story on energy reform, I thought I’d try to show the phrase is actually quite true. For weeks we solicited access to four of the Spanish capital’s tallest skyscrapers at a business complex known as “Four Towers” (“Cuatro Torres”) which includes the the PwC (Price Waterhouse Coopers) Tower.
The PwC Tower, named after the company that rents most of the office space in a building owned by Spanish construction company Sacyr, is the third tallest skyscraper in Madrid and it is the sixth tallest in Europe with 58 floors soaring to 236 meters (774 feet) high.
We were finally given access to photograph from the 53rd floor, the highest floor in public use as the final five floors house equipment such as air conditioning and heating systems as well as other operational material. The building is home to a five-star hotel and the headquarters of the well known audit firm.
I was accompanied on my way up by a security guard so I was able to use the fastest lift in the building, which is only available to internal personnel and emergency workers. Heading to the top we traveled at an average of nine meters per second. Upon arriving at the top I was greeted by a strong wind which pummeled my body, especially my face. Despite the time of the year, late Spring, the weather up until then had been cold and rainy, but on this occasion I was in luck: it was warm and sunny.
The sighting deck was surrounded by portholes, providing a good photographic vantage point. I had never seen my hometown from such a perspective. Flying in to land at Madrid’s Barajas airport does not provide the same view, as the landing route doesn’t take them over the center of the city.
But from the top of the skyscraper, I was standing over the heart of the city and from there I could see buildings and areas where I had worked or enjoyed some time off, places you would never see from this angle, like the hospital where my triplets were born eight years ago. As I waited for sunset and the right light for the pictures I had come to shoot, I attempted to spot other familiar sites. I could easily recognize the airport, the bus depot, Chamartin train station and many other places.
As a spectacular finale, night fell and the lights came on in the city, providing a sensation of a fire burning under my feet. After this experience, I felt the old saying was actually true. On my way back down to the ground I felt this had been one of the most exciting assignments in a long time and I couldn’t wait to get another chance to see Madrid from the sky.