Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

14 Beautiful Train Stations From Around the World

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

We’ve looked at some of the most beautiful lighthouses, libraries and museums from around the world. Today it’s time to look at more iconic and beautiful buildings—train stations.

1. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, India

Image courtesy of Flickr user fish-bone

This UNESCO World Heritage Site, formerly known as Victoria Terminus, features a seamless and stunning blend of Victorian Italianate Gothic Revival and traditional Indian Mughal styles. The building, opened in 1887, was designed by Frederick William Stevens and named in honor of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee that took place the same year. A number of new buildings were added over the years, but they were all designed to blend in with the station’s original design.

The station’s name was changed in 1996 to honor Chhatrapati Shivaji, the founder of the Maratha Empire, though some people still refer to it as Victoria Terminal. These days, the station is the busiest in India, serving both long distance and commuter trains leaving from Mumbai. If the picture of the station looks familiar to you, that’s because you probably saw it in the movie Slumdog Millionaire.

2. Grand Central Terminal, USA

While most people call it Grand Central Station, this New York landmark is actually officially titled Grand Central Terminal. Either way, it is arguably the most famous train station in the U.S. and has repeatedly been named the most beautiful station in the world. That explains why it's the sixth most visited tourist attraction in the world, bringing in over 26,000,000 visitors annually. It also happens to have the most platforms of any station in the world, with 44 platforms set on two separate levels.

The current Grand Central building was completed in 1913 and designed by the architectural firms of Reed and Stem and Warren and Wetmore. Reed and Stem was responsible for the overall design while Warren and Wetmore added the Beaux-Arts style architectural details that make the building so iconic. The iconic clock in the main concourse was designed by Henry Edward Bedford.

3. Liege-Guillemins, Belgium

16 miles of string, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0


Planes and automobiles have made train travel a less popular means of transportation, so many of the truly great train stations were built during the Victorian and Edwardian Era. But every now and then a new train station actually manages to make its mark on the world. Such is the case with Liege-Guillemins, which opened in 2009.

The design, by architect Santiago Calatrava, is strikingly modern, with a monumental arch that reaches 105 feet tall consisting of steel, glass, and white concrete. While the station only houses five platforms, it is one of the most important hubs in Belgium because all of the tracks are compatible with high speed trains.

4. St. Pancras International, UK

Often called the “cathedral of the railways,” this London station was opened in 1868 to connect the railway between the East Midlands and Yorkshire. At the time, the station’s arched train shed, designed by William Henry Barlow, had the largest single-span roof in the entire world. Though it has been under threat of closure in the '60s—at which point it was considered redundant—the station was saved by its fans, including Poet Laureate John Betjeman.

These days, the station has 15 platforms and is not only a stop for traditional trains, but also houses a London Underground stop, a shopping center and a bus station.

5. Dunedin Station, New Zealand

George Troup designed the Dunedin Railway Station in a revived Flemish renaissance style, which ended up earning him the nickname of “Gingerbread George.” The building was completed in 1906, but since passenger rail traffic has drastically increased over the years, it is now used for more than just railway business. In fact, the station’s upper floor is home to both the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame and the Otago Art Society.

6. Antwerp Central, Belgium

Antwerp Central—or Antwerpen-Centraal, if you're a local—is the main station for Antwerp, Belgium’s second most populated city. The original station opened in 1905, featuring stone terminus buildings and a massive dome over the waiting room hall. The design by Louis Delacenserie features so many varying architectural styles that many people have a hard time categorizing it at all, but somehow, the eclectic styles work together.

7. Milano Centrale, Italy

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Patrick Denker

The Milano Centrale isn't just one of the busiest stations in Italy—it's one of the busiest in all of Europe. After the Simplon tunnel was opened in 1906, it was decided that the original Milan station couldn’t handle all the additional train traffic. Interestingly, while Milano Centrale's design wasn’t even selected until 1912, and the building wasn’t opened until 1931, King Victor Emmanuel II laid the cornerstone in 1906. Architect Ulisse Stacchini based his design for the building on Washington DC’s Union Station, but after Italy suffered a serious economic crisis during WWI, construction on the building proceeded extremely slowly, and the original simple building design started to become more and more elaborate as time passed. After Benito Mussolini became Prime Minister, he pushed for the building to become more complex and beautiful as a symbol of power for the fascist regime. The end result is a gorgeous and original blend of a variety of architectural styles, including Art Nouveau and Art Deco.

8. Istanbul Sirkeci Terminal, Turkey

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Also known as the Istanbul Terminal, this station was designed by architect Jachmund and first opened in 1890. The design is considered to be one of the most famous pieces of European Orientalism and has influenced numerous architects since it was built. The terminal was also quite modern for its time, offering built-in gas lighting and heating from the day it was opened.

9. Haydarpasa Terminal, Turkey

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Istanbul is home to not one, but two of the most beautiful train stations in the world. The Haydarpasa Terminal has traditionally served trains to the Asian side of Turkey while the Sirkeci Terminal served trains coming to and from the European side, though since the Haydarpasa Terminal is currently closed for upgrades, most of the tracks have been rerouted to other stations, including the Sirkeci Terminal. Before its closure, Haydarpasa was the busiest terminal in Turkey and one of the busiest in Eastern Europe.

The neo-classical structure was designed by architects Otto Ritter and Helmut Conu and was completed in 1909. Construction was particularly labor intensive because the building’s foundation was laid out on wood piles driven into the mushy shore land that was reclaimed from the sea.

10. Luz Station, Brazil

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Designed by Walter Macfarlane & Co. Saracen Foundry Glasgow and completed in 1901, this station is particularly notable for being assembled in Glasgow, then disassembled, shipped to Brazil, and then reassembled in its current location. During the early part of the 20th century, Luz Station was the main entrance to Sao Paulo, but since then, rail transportation in Brazil has declined as has the neighborhood where the station is located. Even so, the station is still stunning and attracts a good number of visitors, many of whom are also there to see the Museum of the Portuguese Language located inside the station.

11. Caminho de Ferro de Moçambique, Mozambique

Image courtesy of Flickr user Hoorob

In the capital city of Mozambique, Maputo, sits a train station recognized by Newsweek as one of the ten most beautiful in the world. The gorgeous white and green building features a number of grand arches and pillars in Victorian style. It was designed by none other than Gustave Eiffel after he had already made a name for himself with the Eiffel Tower.

These days, the station not only serves as a train depot, but also as a public space, featuring events such as concerts and fashion shows.

12. Atocha Station, Spain

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The largest railway station in Madrid, the current Atocha station building was constructed in 1892. Architect Alberto de Palacio Elissagne worked with Gustave Eiffel to design the wrought iron renewal style building, which was named after a nearby church dedicated to Our Lady of Atocha.

13. Helsinki Central, Finland

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This widely recognized Finnish landmark is also the most visited building in the entire country. The design was thought up by Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen, who came up with the look of the station for a design contest. Saarinen’s original design was very Scandinavian, in a national romanticist style, but when he won the contest, it sparked a large debate about the architecture of public buildings as locals pushed for a more modern style. Saarinen reworked his plans completely, creating this unique building design, which was eventually opened in 1919.

Interestingly, the station has a completely private waiting lounge reserved exclusively for the President of Finland and his or her official guests. The lounge was originally intended for private use by the Emperor of Russia, but after WWI delayed the station’s grand opening, the space was instead repurposed for the Finnish President.

14. Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, Malaysia

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Built to replace an older station on the same site, Kuala Lumpur Railway Station was the city’s main railway hub up until Kuala Lumpur Sentral was opened in 2001. The striking building, completed in 1910, incorporates a variety of design elements from all over the East and West, sometimes referred to as Neo-Moorish/Mughal/Indio-Saracenic/Neo-Saracenic. The unique blend of styles was meshed together by architect Arthur Benison Hubback.

Obviously this list couldn’t possibly contain every beautiful train station in the world, so if you have any particular favorites, feel free to mention them in the comments. And if you happen to be traveling via train any time soon, remember to take a good look at the stations you visit—their beauty just might add to your experience.

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Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Silja Lena Løken / Statens vegvesen
Norway Opens Another Spectacular Roadside Bathroom
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Silja Lena Løken / Statens vegvesen
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Silja Lena Løken / Statens vegvesen

Norway’s National Tourist Routes will change how you think about rest stops. As part of a decades-long program, the Norwegian government has been hiring architects and designers to create beautiful roadside lookouts, bathrooms, and other amenities for travelers along 18 scenic highways throughout the country. One of the latest of the projects unveiled, spotted by Dezeen, is a glitzy restroom located on the Arctic island of Andøya in northern Norway.

The facility, designed by the Oslo-based Morfeus Arkitekter, is located near a rock formation called Bukkekjerka, once used as a sacrificial site by the indigenous Sami people. The angular concrete and steel structure is designed to fit in with the jagged mountains that surround it.

The mirrored exterior wall of the bathroom serves a dual purpose. On the one hand, it reflects the scenery around the building, helping it blend into the landscape. But it also has a hidden feature. It’s a one-way mirror, allowing those inside the restroom to have a private view out over the ocean or back into the mountains while they pee.

The newly landscaped rest area near the bathroom will serve as an event space in the future. The Bukkekjerka site is already home to an annual open-air church service, and with the new construction, the space will also be used for weddings and other events. Because this is the Arctic Circle, though, the restroom is only open in the late spring and summer, closing from October to May. Check it out in the photos below.

A bathroom nestled in a hilly landscape
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Hugo Fagermo / Statens vegvesen

The mirrored facade of a rest stop reflects concrete steps leading down a pathway.
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Hugo Fagermo / Statens vegvesen

A person stands outside the bathroom's reflective wall.
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Hugo Fagermo / Statens vegvesen

A wide view of a rest stop at the base of a coastal mountain
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Trine Kanter Zerwekh / Statens vegvesen

[h/t Dezeen]

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Snøhetta
Norway's New Hotel in the Arctic Circle Will Produce More Energy Than It Uses
Snøhetta
Snøhetta

A new hotel coming to Norway’s section of the Arctic Circle will be more than just a place to stay for a stunning fjord view. The Svart hotel, which is being billed as the world’s first "energy-positive" hotel, is designed to “set a new standard in sustainable travel,” according to Robb Report.

Built by a tourism company called Arctic Adventure Norway and designed by Snøhetta, an international architecture firm headquartered in Oslo, it’s one of the first buildings created according to the standards of Powerhouse, a coalition of firms (including Snøhetta) devoted to putting up buildings that will produce more power over the course of 60 years than they take to build, run, and eventually demolish. It will be located on a fjord at the base of Svartisen, one of the largest glaciers on Norway’s mainland and part of Saltfjellet-Svartisen National Park.

A hotel stretches out above the water of a fjord.
Snøhetta

The design of the hotel is geared toward making the facility as energy-efficient as possible. The architects mapped how the Sun shines through the mountains throughout the year to come up with the circular structure. When the Sun is high in the winter, the terraces outside the rooms provide shadows that reduce the need for air conditioning, while the windows are angled to catch the low winter Sun, keeping the building warm during cold Arctic winters. In total, it is expected to use 85 percent less energy than a traditional hotel.

The sun reflects off the roof of a hotel at the base of a glacier on a sunny day.
Snøhetta

Svart will also produce its own energy through rooftop solar panels, though it won’t have excess energy on hand year-round. Since it’s located in the Arctic Circle, the hotel will have an abundance of sunlight during the summer, at which point it will sell its excess energy to the local electricity grid. In the winter, when it’s too dark for solar energy production, the hotel will buy energy back from the grid. Over the course of the year, it will still produce more energy than it uses, and over time, it will eventually produce enough excess energy to offset the energy that was used to build the structure (including the creation of the building materials).

“Building in such a precious environment comes with some clear obligations in terms of preserving the natural beauty and the fauna and flora of the site,” Snøhetta co-founder Kjetil Trædal Thorsen explains in the firm’s description of the design. “Building an energy-positive and low-impact hotel is an essential factor to create a sustainable tourist destination respecting the unique features” of the area.

Svart is set to open in 2021.

[h/t Robb Report]

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