Amazing train stations from around the world – Part One
We’ve all been to train stations. Sometimes it’s our local station we commute from each day and at other times it’s when we’re travelling. But how many of us slow down and lift our head up from our phones and look at some of the features that make these stations so amazing? Whether it’s the beauty, the history or something quirky, I asked some of my favourite bloggers to write about a station that they find amazing.
Cairo by Alyson of World Travel Family Blog
Almost 3,500 years ago Ramses the Great ruled Ancient Egypt. His monuments still dominate The Nile and some 3,000 years after his death Cairo’s first train station took his name. Its interior is a salute to ancient times, although modern renovations have allegedly destroyed much of the building’s original character. The main entrance hall boasts marble floors, pharaonic blue and gold stripes, papyrus and pyramids. Although its grandeur has faded and the sad neglect common in modern Egypt is apparent, Ramses station is still a magnificent place to begin a journey to Aswan, Alexandria or Luxor. Take the night train from Cairo to marvel at the remarkable achievements of the pharaohs.
Bolivia by Dean of Living La Vida Global
If there is one train station in the world you don’t want to be late arriving is has to be Tihuanaco in Bolivia. Sure it looks friendly enough and there are a few food stands to grab a snack but considering they only get one train every month it sure is a long wait for the next one.
On the other side of the coin it sure would be an easy job being the station master!
The station is located about one hour from La Paz and surrounded by some of Bolivia’s most significant archaeological sites.
There are so few houses in the area you really have to wonder who uses the station to even justify the already thin train schedule.
Lisbon by Katie of Wandertooth
Formerly known as Lisbon’s Estação Central (Central Station), Rossio Train Station stands in the heart of Lisbon’s sightseeing district, and is most used by tourists heading out of town to Sintra. Although the interior pales in comparison to what you’ll find at Porto’s Sao Bento station, at Rossio, it’s what’s on the outside that counts! The gently arched doorways and intricate Neo-Manueline facade are beautiful enough to stop many visitors right in their tracks, and it’s not uncommon to hear some oohs and ahhs escape those admiring the building! The best part about Rossio is how central it is, making it easy for anyone to appreciate on a trip to Lisbon.
Ipoh by Jub of Tiki Touring Kiwi
Arriving into Ipoh by bus meant I didn’t catch a glimpse of Ipoh Train Station a.k.a. the Taj Mahal (according to the locals) until a few days later while exploring.
The main train station in Perak was opened in 1917, connecting people to Penang in the north and KL to the south.
On Saturday evenings, the front of the station comes alive with the water fountains in front lighting up with colour.
Some train stations are places to avoid, but the family vibe with artists and break dancers made me come back each weekend.
One afternoon I learned how large and symmetrical the station is while on the lookout for my first geocache. Clambering up the giant columns certainly made me feel tiny. I never did quite find the geocahce which felt like a needle in a haystack.
If you don’t arrive by train, go check out Ipoh Train Station by foot, it’s close to the old town so there’s no excuse.
Melbourne by Claire of Claire’s Footsteps
Located on the corner of Flinders and Swanston Streets of Melbourne, Flinders Street railway station is an iconic landmark of the city. The French Renaissance building was designed in 1899 as part of a competition, the winners of which were James Fawcett and HPC Ashworth. When built, it was a majestic and wonderful building, loved by Melburnians and tourists alike. The building fell into disrepair during the 1960s and plans were put forward for its redevelopment or even demolition. Fortunately, it survived its threats of being destroyed and was redeveloped at various points throughout the next decade. Having been lovingly restored, it now stands as one of Melbourne’s most loved tourist attractions and one of the best spots to visit if you’re visiting Melbourne on a budget!
New York by Kathy of 50 Shades of Age
During two trips to New York in the US I was enthralled by the magnificence of Grand Central Station. The architecturally splendid building has the most beautiful interior with a celestial ceiling mural and tall arched lead-light glass windows that admit natural light into the concourse.
The building was constructed in 1913 out of granite stone and the exterior features a cluster of sculptures depicting Minerva, Mercury and Hercules. Beneath the statue of Mercury is the exterior clock, made from Tiffany glass and measuring 14 feet in diameter.
This monument to New York’s illustrious past not only features the main concourse but also the dining concourse, the Campbell Apartment Bar, the Oyster Bar and the Grand Central Market. The market offers a delicious array of local gourmet foods including chocolate, cheese and other goodies.
Whilst you are there make sure you check out the Whispering Gallery! This gallery can transmit sound from corner to corner perfectly, so that you can talk to another person in a hushed tone and hear each other clearly.
Grand Central Station or Terminal is a must see when you are visiting New York to give you a glimpse of a bygone era.
Kyoto by Toni of 2 Aussie Travellers
Kyoto station is one of our favourites. It was built in 1997 to celebrate the 1200th anniversary of the city that was once the capital of Japan. It’s futuristic design might at first appear to be in conflict with the culture and heritage of Kyoto but instead it’s proven that the past and the future can co-exist harmoniously. The architect, Hara Hiroshi, has incorporated features into the design to represent key aspects of the city. Look up as you enter the main entrance hall, this area is known as the Matrix and represents the uniform grid like structure of Kyoto’s historic streets.
While inside the station try to take a little extra time to look around. It’s the city’s transport hub for shinkansen, trains, the subway and buses it’s also far more than that. There’s an open sky garden at the very top looking out over the city. On the levels below that there’s a seemingly unending variety of restaurants and shopping. From the 11th floor you can walk across the skywalk suspended above the main foyer and look down on the activity far below. There’s always something going on here, in the evenings there’s regular light shows in the fountain or on the wide expanse of stairs and on the various level landings there’s a surprising amount of quiet public space if you need respite from the crowds.
Porto by Barbara of Jet-Settera
The Sao Benito railway station of Porto was built in the end of the 19th century. A local architect Jose Marques da Silva designed the building in French Beaux-Arts style. The vestibule is covered with beautiful azulejo tiles. About 20,000 white and blue azulejo tiles cover the walls of the interior. These azulejo paintings represent historical events of the Portuguese history. The station is located in the middle of the old town and it is one of the largest and most beautifully decorated buildings of Porto.
London by Alice of Teacake Travels
‘A truly magnificent architectural delight, spacious Kings Cross St Pancras has a soothing welcome to it. As I step off the platform, the vast glass ceiling encourages me to look up, before immersing myself in the big smoke. Commuters’ fingers are tinkling on the Elton John piano. Their ditties gently whirling up to the golden Dent clock. As its time tick tocks, passengers scurry to their imminent departure past the oscillating crunching of the coffee beans. As Harry Potter soars through platform 9 ¾, adventurers are hopping on to their next Eurostar adventure, leaving the bronze frozen lovers statue behind to say their sweet goodbyes’.
Antwerp by Rashmi & Chalukya of GO Beyond Bounds
The city sightseeing of Antwerp begins as soon as you enter the main railway station of Antwerp. Antwerpen-Centraal or de Middenstatie as the locals endearingly call it was designed by the Bruges City architect Louis Delacenserie and has been considered as one of the world’s most beautiful train stations. Built over a period of ten years from 1895 and 1905 the magnificent station replaces the original wooden station from early 19th century. The station is a stone clad building built in eclectic style topped by an ornate dome with the interior finely embellished with stone and marble. The station has 14 tracks spread across 4 levels of steel platforms and a shopping gallery which houses more than 30 diamond shops. The station is centrally located close to several branded boutiques and shopping arcades and makes exploring the city on foot very convenient and easy. And those who do not want to walk there is a good frequency of bus and tram service from the station to the historical center.
And finally, a station from us. We found this fascinating focal point of Lucerne station after exiting the major Swiss rail hub that services both domestic and international rail lines. The original station built in 1896 was built unlike most grand Swiss buildings at the time. It had a large glass cupola making the station a strong landmark amongst the hotels surrounding the nearby lake Lucerne. 75 years later the old station, built of timber burnt and was destroyed. The only surviving part of the old building was the main portal and it now forms a striking arch in the square at the front of Switzerland’s first modern railway station. On the top of the arch is a sculpture named spirit of the times, making the station a focal point and rather than a hub to just get on and off a train, it is now a true meeting point.
Like to see more amazing train stations from around the world? Then stay tuned as we have Part 2 and Part 3 coming up soon. Until then, please visit the pages of these wonderful bloggers and read their stories relating to the cities these amazing train stations are in.
Which was your favourite train station? Have you been to any of these train stations? Is there a particular train station you hope comes up in Parts 2 and 3?
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