Travelling provides an opportunity to discover transit points that are impossible to circumvent yet are often
overlooked. Let’s take a look at the most striking railway stations around the world…
Voted ‘the most beautiful station in the world’ by American website Mashable, Antwerp railway station was built between 1895 and 1905 at the request of King Leopold II. Its architect, Louis de la Censerie, was inspired by Lucerne station in Switzerland. Antwerpen Centraal, to give its correct name, is made of stone, glass and metal, and its 75-m-high dome makes it look like a cathedral. The site was renovated in 2009 when France’s Train à Grande Vitesse (TGV) railway network was rolled out in Belgium, providing connections to Amsterdam in the Netherlands. As proof of its charm, the station was awarded the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage in 2011.
Liege-Guillemins station was thrust into the 21st century when it was reopened in 2009, revealing its sleek metal profile after 10 years of construction work. The station is now a landmark of the city of Liege. It was designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava Valls and is characterised by its two steel arches. It adopted the name of the quarter in which the work took place.
London St Pancras, UK
Since 2007, Eurostar passengers alight at London St Pancras rather than London Waterloo. This historical station, which is characterised by its red bricks, is an example of Gothic architecture dating back to the Victorian era. The station is not far from the famous British Library, which has copies of the Magna Carta and Johannes Gutenberg’s Bible. St Pancras was originally built to facilitate access to the Midlands. Its main concourse is named after its designer, William Henry Barlow.
Grand Central Terminal, New York, US
Grand Central Terminal is itself a tourist attraction. Visitors are transported back in time with its large clock, Greek and Roman sculptures, theatrical balconies and green ceiling constellation painted by a Frenchman. The visit continues in the main concourse, which leads to a maze of restaurants and kiosks, including the famous Oyster Bar. The tour ends at Grand Central Market, with its food purveyors spread out over 120 m.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The Malaysian capital’s station mixes eastern and western styles. The construction of this immaculate white building began at the beginning of the 20th century and was completed in 1910. The outside is the best vantage point for taking photos.
Madrid Atocha, Spain
Madrid Atocha station is the biggest in Spain. Its trains go out to Andalusia, France and the suburbs of Madrid. Its first construction dates back to 1851, but a fire destroyed a large part of it at the end of the 19th century. Nowadays, visitors notice its glass and steel architecture, and its tropical garden, with its 7,000 trees and plants. The station is, sadly, also famous because of the March 2004 terrorist attacks.
Maputo train station, Mozambique
The railway station in the Mozambique capital Maputo is a testament to the country’s history. The site was designed by Gustave Eiffel. Nowadays, visitors to the station can take a look at two steam locomotives dating back to the early 20th century. The station also holds exhibitions and organises jazz concerts.
The station in the city of Kanazawa in the north-central region of Honshu Island, facing the Sea of Japan, combines modernity and history. At the entrance, a huge torii (a traditional gate, which welcomes visitors to Japanese shrines) rises up 14 m in height. Inside, the futuristic station has a majestic glass dome with a shopping mall underneath. The roof is covered in solar panels, giving it the title of Japan’s first eco-friendly station.
Flinders Street Station, Melbourne, Australia
In Melbourne, Victoria, all roads lead to Flinders Street station, which is the focal point in this cultural city. Its Victorian architecture and yellow colour contrast with the landscape, even when it rains. This symbol of Melbourne faces the strikingly modern
Federation Square. When it was opened in 1854, Flinders Street station was the very first railway station in Australia, and the departure point for the country’s first steam train.