The World's Most Beautiful Train Stations
These 15 historic and design-forward train stations are as beautiful as any concert hall or museum. Take a photographic tour.
Photo By: Steve Larese
Photo By: Steve Larese
Photo By: Eurail/Alison Wright
Photo By: PHILIP KOSCHEL
Photo By: Steve Larese
Photo By: Steve Larese
Photo By: Marriott
Photo By: Josh Ellis
Photo By: Steve Larese
Photo By: Andrew Allen
Photo By: WEILL Associates
Photo By: Shutterstock/Paul Prescott
Historic Spaces for the Modern Age
Train stations still capture the romance and excitment of rail travel and feature some of the most stunning design you are apt to see. From historic marvels to modern masterpieces (such as Belgium's Liège-Guillemins railway station, pictured), train stations uniquely showcase civic pride and local culture. Here are just a few of our favorite, most unique, design-forward train stations from around the globe.
Denver Union Station, Colorado
Called Denver's living room, Denver Union Station in the Mile High City's LoDo neighborhood was built in 1914 in the Beaux-Arts architectural style that blends French neoclassical, Gothic and Renaissance elements. The busy station services Amtrak, FasTracks light rail, RTD buses and the free 16th Street Mall and Downtown Denver Circular shuttles. Inside, the elegant Crawford Hotel caters to passengers and locals alike. When contemplating beautifully designed American train stations, New York's Grand Central Terminal and Chicago's Union Station are just a couple of the United States's other architectural gems.
Toledo Railway Station, Spain
Spain's Toledo Railway Station was completed in 1920 in the Spanish Neo-Mudéjar/Moorish Revival style popularized by its designer, Narciso Claveria y de Palacios. The building incorporates many Moorish architectural features such as rounded and scalloped archways above doorways and ornate wood carving that incorporate Moorish stars. The high ceiling is reminiscent of Catholic missions with milled-lumber vigas spanning across and supporting a flat roof inlaid with dark, geometrically carved panels. Wrought-iron chandeliers with scrolled details illuminate the space when sunlight isn't streaming though its starburst stained glass windows. Outside, the station resembles a Moorish castle with a brickwork clock tower that incorporates more Moorish stars and Arabesque designs built into its façade. Toledo is credited with being a city where Muslim, Christian and Jewish populations lived together peacefully throughout the Middle Ages, and Claveria y de Palacios wanted to celebrate this harmony through his design.
Berlin Hauptbahnhof, Germany
Just a 10-minute walk from the Reichstag, the light-filled Berlin Hauptbahnhof (central station) opened in 2006 and is the largest railway intersection in Europe at 100,000 square meters. Its modern 1,000-foot arched-glass design mirrors that of the Reichstag’s glass dome, and both point to Germany's optimistic future as both were damaged by war and divided by ideologies. The arch connects two twin buildings, and looks like a glass cross from above. The 1,300-foot long station incorporates a photovoltaic system in the glass roof that creates 330 kilowatts of electricity to help power the facility. In addition, natural light floods the station's five levels down to its two underground metro platforms. Berlin Hauptbahnhof is built on the site of Berlin's 1871 Lehrter Bahnhof station that was largely destroyed during World War II and later saw its East-West lines severed by the Cold War division of Germany. Soon after Germany's reunification in late 1989, the city began planning a modern station that would once again provide service to the entire nation. Hamburg-based architectural firm Gerkan, Marg and Partners won the design competition for the new station overlooking the Spree River in 1993, and construction began in 1996, taking a decade to complete.
Antwerp Central Station in Belgium is also called Spoorwegkathedraal (which translates to "railroad cathedral") and to many this cavernous stone building with soaring glass ceilings and ionic columns does indeed resemble a church. Large arched windows and intricate art nouveau carvings are especially apparent around its iconic clock (pictured). Completed in 1905, its iron and glass ceilings dispersed the smoke from the steam-powered locomotives of the time. It was heavily damaged by V-2 rockets during World War II but left structurally intact. Restoration began in the late 1980s using polycarbonate and other modern materials painted to blend in with existing original building materials. The station was upgraded beginning in the 1990s through 2007 to accommodate high-speed trains.
Milano Centrale Railway Station, Italy
Milano Centrale Railway Station is the largest in Europe. It opened in 1931 when dictator Benito Mussolini was in power, and art deco winged horses and eagles perch on ledges of the limestone and marble building. Enormous columns support the coved ceiling with skylights, and Liberty (Italian art nouveau) and art deco designs decorate both the interior and exterior. Anchoring the Piazza Duca d’Aosta, Milano Centrale was designed by Ulisse Stacchini, who was inspired by Washington, DC's Union Station. Construction began in 1906 but World War I and its aftermath dragged construction on through 1931. The station has 24 platforms that see high-speed trains arriving and departing throughout Europe, and underwent an extensive renovation in 2006 that also repaired several of its period murals and mosaics depicting city and landscape scenes from around Milan.
Praha hlavní nádraží, Prague
Praha hlavní nádraží — Prague Central Station — is an art nouveau gem completed in 1909 by Czech architect Josef Fanta. It's the Czech Republic's busiest station, and only a 15-minute walk from Prague's Old Town Square. A modern, mall-like general area leads to the station's historic art nouveau interior that resembles an opera house. Its dome is lined with painted coats of arms, marble statues of notable Prague citizens throughout history and abstract art nouveau design leading to the dome's zenith. In 2009 a bronze statue of Nicholas Winton was placed on Platform 1 to honor his helping 699 Jewish children escape occupied Prague leaving from this station and eventually arriving in England during World War II.
São Bento Station, Porto, Portugal
Built on the site of a 16th-century Benedictine monastery, São Bento Railway Station was completed in 1900 in the French Beaux-Arts style. Inside, 20,000 hand-painted azulejo tiles created by artist Jorge Colaço in 1905 depict Portugal's past including its royalty, wars such as the Battle of Valdevez and transportation milestones. São Bento is part of Porto's Almeida Garret Square, named for Portuguese writer Almeida Garrett (1799-1854).
St. Pancras Station, London
A beloved London icon, bustling St. Pancras Station was built by the Midland Railway Company, opened in 1868 and today connects London to continental Europe. Its castle-like Victorian Gothic architecture uses more than 60 million red bricks, an innovative material for London at the time, and gargoyles watch from ornate carved columns. Its iron and glass roof was the largest in the world when it was built, and is still has an impressive span of 245 feet. St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel provides regal digs for passengers, and the hotel's Booking Office Bar & Restaurant (pictured), The Hansom, Mi + Me and Roofgarden St. Pancras are just a few of the restaurants and bars here. Live music is frequently performed throughout the station and its facilities (including a surprise impromptu performance by Sir Elton John in 2016), and historic and modern artwork throughout the station makes for a fun tour in itself. If you have time, pop across the street to King's Cross station to see Platform 9 ¾ from Harry Potter fame.
Formosa Boulevard Metro Station, Taiwan
Formosa Boulevard Metro Station in Sinsing District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan is a Kaohsiung Rapid Transit System subway station that opened in 2008. It is the world's largest circular subway station. It's known internationally for its "Dome of Light," a glass art installation by Italian artist Narcissus Quagliata. The artwork measures 90-feet across and uses 4,500 glass panels, making it the largest glass artwork in the world. Quagliata says his work is about love and tolerance, and depicts scenes of water, earth, light and fire. Kaohsiung City and Taipei are the only two cities that have a subway in Taiwan due largely to the area's seismic activity.
Amsterdam Centraal Main Station
Amsterdam Centraal in the heart of Amsterdam was built in 1889 and combines Gothic and Renaissance Revival features. Its cast iron platform roof spans 120 feet. The station is a major international rail hub, and is the final destination for Eurostar high-speed trains leaving from London. Amsterdam Centraal is the most-visited Rijksmonument (national heritage site) in the Netherlands. It was designed by architect PJH Cuypers who also designed the Rijksmuseum, the Netherlands' national museum that houses Rembrandts, Vermeers and other artistic treasures. The Grand Café Restaurant 1e Klas near Platform 2B is the station's original restaurant that still serves meals in its elegant early 1900s Late Gothic dining room.
Kungsträdgården Metro Station, Stockholm, Sweden
Beneath Stockholm’s Kungsträdgården Park, a fantastical fairy-like scene sets Kungsträdgården Metro Station apart from any other transit station in the world. The exposed bedrock 112-feet below, gives Kungsträdgården Metro Station a cave-like appearance, and whimsical artwork and paintings by 150 artists further its enchanted look. The station opened in 1977 after Stockholm residents protested another plan that would see the cutting down of several ancient elm trees within Kungsträdgården Park for a new metro station. Some Stockholmers, tired of the destruction of historic buildings and large trees for new construction projects, went so far as to chain themselves to the trees. Ultimately the trees were spared and a new plan was drafted that involved the extensive tunneling that would spare the surface. Since then, true to the station's environmental roots, life forms found in real caves such as cave spiders and fungus have created an ecosystem in the station that scientists have studied.
Tokyo Main Station, Japan
Some of the world's most advanced bullets trains stop at Tokyo Main Station that opened in 1914. Designed by architect Kingo Tatsuno and combining traditional Japanese design elements such as Japanese zodiac reliefs (Juunishi) with Renaissance-based design, Tokyo Main Station was designed as an expression of Japan's modernization. The station featured distinctive domes atop its three stories. Heavily damaged during World War II, the domes were rebuilt to original specifications in 2012. Today, this important historic building is beautifully juxtaposed with some of the world's most modern skyscrapers.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, Mumbai, India
Not just a beautiful train station but also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus in Mumbai is a breathtaking blend of Victorian Italianate Gothic Revival and Indo-Gothic architectural styles, collectively called Bombay Gothic. Victorian flourishes such as the clock tower, corner turrets, cornices and red bricks mesh beautifully with features found in Hindu temples such as sikharas, scalloped window frames and precision-cut stone designs that reflect the symmetry and sacred geometry found in Hindu architecture. Designed by British-born Frederick W. Stevens, the station was completed in 1887 and originally named Victoria Terminus. After several name changes throughout the decades, in 2017 it was renamed Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus for the founder of the Maratha Empire in the 1600s. It was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004, and cited for its blend of cultural architectural styles. More than 3 million passengers use this station on average every day.
Gare de Lyon, Paris
Built for the World Exposition of 1900, Gare de Lyon was designed to showcase the best of Paris. It's still doing that, attracting passengers and tourists alike from around the world. Designed by the L’École Nationale des Beaux-Arts graduate Marius Toudoire, Gare de Lyon is the first stop for international visitors arriving in France by train, and is a great introduction to the hustle and bustle of the City of Lights. The clock tower outside of the station is a must-see even if you're just changing trains and have time, and the famous Le Train Bleu restaurant (pictured) is almost overwhelming with its opulent art nouveau beauty and 41 paintings of French cities and regions by famous French artists of the time such as François Flameng, Jean Debuffet and Gaston Casimir Saint-Pierre. Le Train Bleu was designated as a Monument Historique in 1972 and refurbished in 2014. Guests can experience Parisian fine-dining here while marveling at the Belle Époque plasterwork, gilded chandeliers and dreamy murals by French masters.