There are many ways to explore the world, but traveling by train is a unique and authentic experience, in no way comparable to flying in an airplane. The same can be said about train stations, which have a special and unique atmosphere. This atmosphere has nothing to do with the rush, excitement and stress that are most often felt in the terminals of railway stations. We are talking about tranquility, grandeur, beauty and history of station architecture. Here are 15 of the most beautiful train stations from around the world, spanning many styles, eras and continents. These architectural masterpieces are so amazing and exceptional in their own way that you won’t even mind if your train suddenly gets delayed.
Antwerp Central Station is not only one of the largest train stations in the world, but according to almost all official rankings, it is also one of the most beautiful train stations. This architectural work of art was built between 1895 and 1905 at the request of King Leopold II. Architect Louis Delasenzery designed the building using glass, metal and over 20 types of marble and stone.
It is difficult to say which architectural style prevails here. The complexity and variety of small and elaborate details indicate both modern and neo-baroque. Thanks to its 75-meter-high dome, the station looks more like a cathedral than a train station. The impressive glass vaulted ceiling lets in daylight, which floods the entire interior with a golden color. For a long time, the station was under restoration, but even after a total renovation and technical upgrade, it retained its original appearance and atmosphere of that time.
Next on the list of “beautiful stations in the world” is another representative from Belgium – Liège station, a masterpiece of modern architecture by the famous Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. The station was opened after 10 years of construction in 2009, and immediately won the title of the most recognizable building in the city. For Liège Station, Calatrava used traditional materials such as steel, glass and glass-concrete bricks to create an impressive yet light and transparent structure. Liège-Guillemins hosts high-speed trains such as Thalys and ICE, and classic Intercity trains, used primarily by commuters. Inside the station there are all the necessary services: ticket offices, restaurants, bars, supermarkets and shops.
St Pancras (UK)
St. Pancras is not as famous as Victoria Station, but it is too beautiful to pass by and not to mention in our rating “the most beautiful railway stations”. Made of red brick, it is an example of the Gothic architecture of the Victorian era.
It took 20 years to build the huge station, and after its completion in 1868 it was for a time the largest enclosed space in the world. Almost untouched during World War II, St Pancras is the gateway to the UK’s national rail network. Both regular and high-speed lines run through the station, designed to connect London with the Eurotunnel crossing the English Channel.
Grand Central Terminal (USA)
Grand Central Station in New York is often seen in the frames of American films and TV series. You could see the facade of the building in such famous paintings as “Superman”, “Carlito’s Way”, “Men in Black”, “I Am Legend”. Grand Central Station is the hallmark of the city, and its central hall is a magnificent immersion in the past.
An unforgettable impression on the visitor is the grandeur of the architectural elements: large 4-sided clocks, marble staircases and floors, chandeliers, Greek and Roman sculptures, theater balconies and constellations painted on the green ceiling. Among the many restaurants, boutiques and kiosks, the famous Oyster Bar, Central Market and the Whispering Gallery can be found.
Those who have already visited the Atocha station in Madrid will remember it forever, because inside the main lobby there is a real tropical garden or, one might even say, a small forest in which 7000 plants of all kinds grow. No other station can boast of such a living decoration. In this case, the architectural structure fades into the background, although it is a magnificent “container” of glass and steel.
Atocha station was built in 1851 and at that time was the first and largest railway station in Madrid. As a result of the fire in 1992, a more modern building was built, adjacent to the historical one. Although trains now leave from a new building, the original structure of Atocha Station is replete with shops, cafes and even nightlife. Atocha is very popular and is visited by many tourists every day.
In our review of “beautiful train stations” there is room for a small station in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. According to one story, the main station was designed by Gustave Eiffel himself. The construction of the station was completed in 1910, but due to low traffic, the building was more often used for various cultural events and entertainment than for its main purpose. In addition to ticket offices and cafes, at the main station you can find a railway museum and an art gallery of local artists. As for the architectural style, the giant copper dome and the facade of the station are in the Beaux-Arts style.
Kanazawa Station is not only a gem of modern architecture, but also the first ecological station in Japan. Its transparent roof is completely covered with solar panels, which provide power for the entire Kanazawa Station. Located in the north-central part of Honshu Island, the station combines the incompatible: modernity and history.
Traditionally, huge 14-meter wooden torii are placed at the entrance, which majestically greet their visitors. This futuristic station houses restaurants, bars and even a shopping center. Initially, the construction of such large-scale modern architecture in this traditional city was met with little enthusiasm by the locals. But later the station became a favorite destination for the Japanese and tourists from all over the world.
Flinders Street (Australia)
In Melbourne, all roads lead to Flinders Street Station, which is not only a train arrival / departure point, but also a cultural and entertainment hub in the city. Opened in 1854, Flinders Street became Australia’s first railway station and the starting point for the country’s first steam locomotive.
In 1910 the station was completely renovated and renovated in Victorian style, leaving only the large clock at the main entrance and stained glass windows intact. By the way, this particular place under the clock is one of the favorite meeting places for tourists and locals in Melbourne. Flinders Street Station, or rather its yellow and red facade with a copper dome, stands out from the architectural ensemble of the city, but this is what makes it one of the main attractions of the city.
The Neapolitan high-speed station Afragola, also known as the Gateway to the South, was built by Astaldi and designed by Zaha Hadid Architects. Isolated in the countryside of Campania, from above it looks a lot like a white python that snakes elegantly along a high-speed rail line.
Like most of Zaha Hadid’s works, Afragola is made of steel, concrete and glass, and is kept in white and in the natural color of concrete. The building has sleek, aerodynamic shapes and elegant curves. The station is of great importance for mobility and communication between northern and southern Italy, and also serves as a junction on the Rome-Napoli-Salerno line.
Chhatrapati Shivaji (India)
The next “beautiful train stations” in our review is Chhatrapati Shivaji in Mumbai. And this is not just a train station, it is an architectural wonder, an iconic landmark of the city and the most beautiful railway station in India. Opened in 1888 in honor of the anniversary of Queen Victoria, in 2004 it received the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The terminal connects Mumbai and its suburbs, and 3 million passengers pass through it daily. More like a palace than a railway station, Chhatrapati Shivaji combines Western and Eastern styles, and its facade is decorated with many domes and spiers.
Vitebsk railway station (Russia)
The Vitebsk railway station, built in 1837, is the oldest not only in St. Petersburg, but in all of Russia. The building that we can observe today is the result of the third restoration in 1904 in the Art Nouveau style. Massive doorways, huge stained-glass windows, many decorative wrought-iron elements, high ceilings, majestic marble staircases – Vitebsk railway station is definitely included in the list of “the most beautiful railway stations in Russia.”
The terminal is a favorite spot for many filmmakers. More than 150 Soviet and Russian films have been shot here. It is not surprising that the Vitebsky railway station is a cultural heritage site of Russia.
Kazansky railway station (Russia)
Kazansky railway station is included not only in our rating, it can also be found among the “beautiful stations in Moscow” and “beautiful stations in Russia”. This terminal is located on the famous square of three stations, from where you can go anywhere in the country. Being an outstanding creation of Russian architecture, it is also a typical representative of the architecture of the Russian Renaissance.
Dunedin (New Zealand)
Dunedin Station, located on the country’s South Island, is part of the main southern railway line. This train station is known for its distinctive style throughout New Zealand. The station was designed by the architect George Troop in 1906, after which the author was nicknamed “Gingerbread George”.
The fact is that the facade of the building is made of marble, basalt and blue stones, and very much resembles a gingerbread house. Inside the terminal, you can visit a restaurant, an art gallery or the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame. Each year, the Dunedin Railway Station platform is transformed into the world’s longest runway for a fashion show.
Sao Bento (Portugal)
São Bento Train Station is one of the most interesting train stations in Portugal and also one of the most important tourist attractions in Porto. Built at the beginning of the twentieth century on the site of an abandoned monastery, it still retains the melancholic and ancient atmosphere that is so characteristic of the city of Porto.
São Bento Station has a very majestic granite façade, but its main highlight is the interior hall, decorated with over 20,000 handcrafted tiles depicting Portuguese history in traditional blue and white tones. The artist Jorge Colaso spent 14 years creating such a massive fresco from azulejo tiles. But what a result! No tourist route is complete without visiting Sao Bento.
The main station in the French city of Metz was opened in 1908. Metz-Ville Station was built under the leadership of Emperor Wilhelm II to assert German sovereignty over the region. Metz-Ville station belongs to the National Society of French Railways and is served by high-speed TGV trains and regional express trains. In 2017 and 2018, the station was recognized as the most beautiful in France.
The largest train station in the world
The largest train station in the world in terms of the number of platforms is New York Central Station. The terminal has 44 platforms and 67 tracks, which are located on two underground levels. In Europe, in terms of the number of landing platforms, the absolute record holder is the Gare du Nord in Paris. This station is also considered one of the most beautiful and liveliest in France.
This is followed by the Japanese Shinjuku Station with 36 platforms, most of which are used by domestic trains. The largest train station in the world by area is the Japanese station in Nagoya. According to some reports, its territory is 446,000 m².