Amazing train stations from around the world – Part Three
In times long gone train travel signified a new and exciting way to travel. And necessary for train travel came beautiful architecture, grand, iconic buildings and innovating technology. 100 odd years later many stations that were the beginning of those romantic or adventurous train journeys are still in existence. Sit back as we complete the final chapter in our series, Amazing train stations from around the world.
Dunedin by Jon of See the South Island
Dunedin Railway Station, completed in 1906, was once the busiest train station in New Zealand. Dunedin, the once prosperous gateway to the gold mining regions, has retained a huge amount of its heritage buildings and the railway station is probably the most impressive of the lot. It was built in the Flemish Renaissance style and features an elegant contrast of dark basalt and white limestone. The station is located in central Dunedin and is close to many other points of historical interest, including the Octagon (like a town square, only octagon shaped), the old jail, Cadbury’s chocolate factory and the Otago Setters Museum. Some passenger services still run from the century old station, including the scenic tourist trains to Taieri Gorge and along the coast to Oamaru. If you visit on a Saturday morning you’ll get to stroll through the Otago Farmers Market, where you’ll find heaps of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as a wide range artisanal food and drink.
Berlin by Arzo of Arzo Travels
“Berlin´s main train station opened in 2006 and when I visited the “Berlin Hauptbahnhof” for the first time I thought something like: “What on Earth is this terrible building?” Everything was so super modern, bright, and it reminded me of an ugly, sterile hospital.
BUT my perception has changed over the time. I have started loving this giant, super modern train station and on my last trip to Berlin, I actually took my parents as it has become a must-see sight in Germany´s capital.
Yes, it is still super modern, but I love the fact that it is an own little world for itself with tons of little and bigger shops and restaurants.
If you step outside you´ll find more options to dine and rest (the river Spree is just in front of it) and other main tourist attractions are also close by (like the German Parliament).
So, if you are ever in Berlin do not forget to visit this giant station and do not forget: it might not be love at first sight, but it is definitely a quite unique train station.”
Worcestershire by Ryazan of Everything Zany
Located at the heart of England, Severn Valley Railway (SVR) has been a famous attraction for train and history lovers. The construction and operation of the steam railway system and its station began in 1862 and closed down in 1963.
The community in Worcestershire, England contributed to re-claim the heritage railway route (5 ½ miles) from the British Railway in 1965.
The Severn Valley Railway Stations (Kidderminster) has been an integral part of keeping this heritage train going since its opening in 1980’s as its main south terminus. The Kidderminster stations serves as the main connection of the SVR to the main train line system in England.
The SVR experience of will give you the glimpse of the locomotive during the Victorian times. Definitely worth a visit!
Frankfurt by Heather of Wanderlust Wayfarer
Located in the heart of Frankfurt, Germany, the Hauptbahnhof, or Main, train station is the second-busiest in the country. With more than 350,000 people passing through each day, it’s also one of the busiest train stations in Europe. The impressive station is just a short walk away from some of Frankfurt’s top attractions and is also a must-see site in its own right.
Originally constructed in a Neo-Renaissance style in 1888, the enormous building has been renovated many times over the years. Today, it houses two dozens platforms, along with numerous services and shops. Whether you’re looking to buy a new pair of shoes, dine at a sit-down restaurant, or pick up a gift, you’ll find it under the dome of the Hauptbahnhof.
Wales by Haley of BorderLass
Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (pronounced Llan-vire-pooll-guin-gill-go-ger-u-queern-drob-ooll-llandus-ilio-gogo-goch) train station is located in the same-named village on the Island of Anglesey in North Wales. It is alternatively known as Llanfairpwll.
The long form of the name was invented for commercial and tourism purposes in the 1860s; with 58 characters it is the longest place name in Europe and the second longest official one-word place name in the world. It is roughly translated as The church of Mary in the hollow of the white hazel near the fierce whirlpool and church of Tysilio by the red cave!
The train station is still in use today, and there is shop close by if you want to buy a souvenir.
Istanbul by Natalia of Mytriphack
Haydarpasa terminal is one of the most beautiful train stations from both interior and exterior points of view. It was serving the trains to the Asian side of Turkey. The station was built in the early 20th century by two German architects and it became one of the busiest terminals in Eastern Europe.
The roof of the train station has suffered a fire in 2012. Since then, the train service has been suspended due to the restoration works. There were different controversies about the future fate of the station. According to the recent news, Hayderpasa terminal will preserve its historical identity and serve as a station of the new fast train network.
Amsterdam by Maartje of Quokka Travel
For most visitors, Amsterdam Central Station is – after Schiphol airport – the first introduction to the city centre. With almost 300.000 visitors a day, it’s the busiest train station in the Netherlands.
Amsterdam CS is built on an artificial island in the waters of Ij between 1881 and 1889. The impressive building is designed by the famous Dutch architect Pierre Cuypers who also designed Rijksmuseum and A.L. van Gendt. Since 1974 the train station is an official and protected monument. After recent renovations the train station is modern, has many shops and food places.
Amsterdam Central Station’s nickname is ‘Cathedral’: The entire design has been thought through to the smallest details: from furniture designs in the Royal lounge room to the ornate wall decorations and flower designs in the central hall. The beautiful architecture is what makes the station so beautiful!
Tibet by Naomi of Probe Around the Globe
When I travelled by train from Beijng to Lhasa in Tibet, we passed the highest railway station in the world: Tanggula Railway station at 5,068 m (16,626 ft.). As it was too dangerous to leave the train at this altitude, the train didn’t stop here. A few hours later, we did stop at Na Qu station at 4,513m (14,806 ft.) and I was able to snatch this picture of the sign, indicating this great feat of engineering at high altitude. In all fairness, the stations in Tibet are not spectacular on its own. It is the great wide nothingness surrounded by impressive mountain peaks of the Tibetan plateau, that makes it an amazing experience for railroad junkies like myself. Who else can say they stopped at a railway station at such high altitude? It almost costs me my seat on the train as I wondered off to take a few pictures and the train signaled its departure. I was able to hopp on board in another carriage, but it took me a while before I was back at my own carriage. Lesson learned: always be back on time!
Washington DC by Julie of Fun in Fairfax VA
Union Station is not only the central train station of Washington DC, it is also an architectural gem and a convenient stop for visitors exploring the U.S. Capitol area. The 1907 Beaux Arts building was extensively repaired and renovated following a 2011 earthquake, brightening the interior and highlighting the beauty of this DC landmark.
Coffered ceilings tower above the Main Hall, newly cleaned and decorated with 120,000 sheets of gold leaf, while 36 Roman legionnaires stand guard. By the way, some of those statues are nudes with strategically placed shields to cover the naughty bits. Downstairs, a large food court offers a range of cheap eats while the main floors present shops and table dining options. Union Station is the rail hub of DC, often busy with commuters and tourists. Regional trains and the high speed Acela offer a relaxing ride to Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston, and your journey certainly begins in style.
Seattle by Lara of Small Town Washington & Beyond
King Street Station serves a handful of train and bus routes in Seattle, WA and last year I had the pleasure of seeing it for myself. In fact, I could have sat in one of the waiting room benches and stared at the decorative ceiling for hours. Built for the Great Northern Railway during 1904-1906, King Street Station is one of Seattle’s historic gems thanks to a $55 million dollar restoration project. The building, which has Beaux-Arts and Italian architecture and is on the National Register of Historic Places, showcases its former glory with ornamental white plaster ceilings, new mahogany doors, fluted Corinthian columns, hand-cut marble tiles, period piece light fixtures, and a rehabilitated 12-story clock tower. It’s close to Pioneer Square, so if you are there, be sure to wander in and admire this 111-year-old station.
Cinque Terre by Jo of Frugal First Class Travel
The best way to travel around the Cinque Terre is definitely by train. The stations are a bit ordinary and not much to look at really, but the view from the platform at Manarola is definitely unbeatable. Catching the train from Manarola every day I was able to watch the ferries chugging from village to village, the fishing boats coming and going and the seagulls wheeling in the breezes. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I looked I didn’t get to see a dophin……. While the train services between the villages are very well organized, the experience is a bit, shall I say quirky? The trains are often longer than the platforms, so if the train stops in a tunnel, it probably does mean it’s time to get off, and walk alongside the tracks to your platform. Just part of the Cinque Terre experience.
The photo I’ve chosen is the view from the platform at Manarola.
Sydney by Paula of Sydney Expert
I am lucky enough to pass through Circular Quay Station on my way to work every day. What makes this train station special is not the heritage listed station building itself but rather the view it offers commuters while they wait for their trains to arrive. As the train pulls into the station your first glimpse is of either of the harbour bridge or the Opera House depending on the direction you are travelling.
Work on the station began in 1916 and took over 40 years to complete with both World War 1 and 2 interrupting the building project. During the wars the partially completed tunnels were used as a public air raid shelters.The original design for a grand building at the site was modified many times during its construction to reflect the changing architectural styles of the decades. Today this functionalist buidling with it’s art deco features is very much loved part of Sydney.
Somehow waiting for a late running train home here never really seems to bother me, watching the sun setting over the harbour in the afternoons is a nice way to kill time.
Los Angeles by Noel Morata of Travel Photo Discovery
The Union Station in Los Angeles is an iconic landmark downtown that still retains so much history and with the updated station which still services rail, metro and other regional services around the Los Angeles area. The updated station is well preserved to the last details of the classic waiting including the chairs, lighting, wall details but added new conveniences like trendy restaurants and fast food takeout counters. The Union Station is a fun first stop destination if you are visiting downtown Los Angeles and a perfect spot to also take the metro service around the LA area.
Townsville by Jan of Budget Travel Talk
On Christmas Day 1913, Townsville in North Queensland, received a special present in the form of a Railway Station officially opened the previous day. The three storey brick building, emulated the grand 19th Century stations of Europe. It featuress balustraded verandahs and a ticket hall with original fittings, tiles and WWI Honour Roll.
The terminus for the Great Northern Train Line, it supplied Townsville’s civilians and troops in WWII and featured in several 1946 Victory Celebration photos.
I remember the thrill of collecting and farewelling relatives from the Station’s platform as a child. The hissing train, the fear of falling down the gap, the Porters Trolley and the thrill of that first jolt as the train departed.
Some of my early travel adventures featured long train journeys from this station, south to Melbourne and west to Mount Isa. I’m pretty sure it is solely responsible for my fascination with train travel today.
Moscow by Kate and Mark of Vagrants of the World
Stalin had a vision to create a “subterranean paradise for the people.” A metro system to resemble what he called “people’s palaces.” In 1935 that vision was realised with just 13 stations opened.
Each metro station is unique, indicative of the era and political leader of the time. Marble, chandeliers, intricate mosaic artworks, heroic statues and gilded trimmings, the Moscow Metro stations are works of art. Our personal favourite and by far the fanciest of all the stations is Komsomolskaya Station. More like a grand ballroom than a train station Komsomolskaya Station opened in 1952 as part of the second stage of the Metro system. A baroque masterpiece, with massive crystal chandeliers down the centre of the platform. Komsomolskaya honours Nevsky, Donskoy and other great military leaders with ornately gilded mosaics on the ceilings and walls. Komsomolskaya Station is just a taste of Moscow’s more than 180 “people’s palaces.”
To conclude this series of amazing train stations from around the world we feature one of our favourite cities, Paris. Gare du Nord is the busiest station not only in Paris, but in Europe with 700,000 passengers transiting daily on the 2100 trains in and out of the station. The station services many of Europe’s northern areas, Brussels, Amsterdam, Cologne and London. Built 1861-1864 in Haussmannien style, its beautiful façade is rather imposing. The station’s interior is especially lovely when the sun’s rays shine through the arched windows and skylights. On the outside 23 statues represent the areas the departing trains arrive at with the largest central figure representing Paris. The station is featured in many movies, like the Bourne series, Oceans Eleven and Amelie.
There you have it, some of the world’s most amazing train stations. Whether it the busiest, largest, most beautiful or the most quirky or unique, train stations are amazing for many reasons. Regardless, we wouldn’t get from A to B without them so next time you are near a train station, take time to pay some attention to the beautiful architecture, learn the history or just admire what makes it downright quirky.
Was your favourite train station in Part 1, Part 2 or Part 3? Does visiting a historic or unique train station at to your travel experience? Where was the oldest or most exotic train station you visited?
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