Apple Store in Madrid built atop 15th-century ruins

Eric Pfeiffer

When you’re the biggest company in the world, you’re bound to ruffle a few feathers. In Spain, Apple’s new store is built on top of the ruins of a 15th-century hospital.

El Pais reports that the remains of a 60-bed hospital once used to treat plague victims have been found in the basement of Apple's 20,000-square-foot store in Madrid.

“We’re not surprised to find these remains because we knew they could be there,” said Jamie Ignacio Munoz, director of the Madrid Heritage Department, in an interview with the paper. “The building is located on a historic site and is protected as an area of public cultural interest, so that any action on the ground has to have the approval of the heritage department.”

City officials in Madrid originally stumbled across the ruins of both a church and San Andres Hospital, a 600-year-old structure demolished in 1854, while building a new Sol Metro stop. The city still allowed Apple to construct its store nearby and even asked the company to cover the ruins back up.

Inside the church, human remains were discovered dating back to 1808 from executions that followed an attempted uprising against Napoleon’s army.

Once completed, it will be Apple's third store in Madrid and will occupy more floor space than the company's flagship Apple Store on Fifth Avenue in New York City.

The city has asked Apple for a slight adjustment to its design plan to reflect the discovery, requesting that an outline of the hospital walls be "symbolically" traced into the building's new basement floor. Originally, city planners considered asking Apple to install a glass floor so that customers and employees could see the hospital remains below. But officials concluded that such a design wouldn't be visually interesting.

"It’s just foundations. The information that they suggest about the shape of the walls is more important,” according to El Pais.

Munoz also suggested Apple post an information panel in the store explaining why the outline is drawn into the floor. He said the foundation of the store is designed in such a way as to preserve the ruins below.

The store is scheduled to open to the public in December.