World's Most Beautiful Train Stations
David Kleyn / Alamy
more to admire than the passing scenery. Have your camera ready when you pull
into these beautiful train stations.
turrets frame a dome above a grand hall finished in marble, glass, and gold. But
this isn’t another European cathedral. You’ve arrived at Belgium’s Antwerp Central Station.
neo-Baroque or contemporary, the world’s most beautiful train stations were
designed to make a big impression. Many were constructed during the late 19th
century, a golden era when train travel was new, intriguing, and glamorous. Today,
stations from every era continue to impress, attracting travelers who aren’t even
catching a train.
surprising that these stations have withstood everything from wars to urban
development. Train stations weren’t just transportation
hubs; they became symbols of entire empires, as rulers transported their
architectural and engineering know-how as far as India and Mozambique. Equally ambitious train routes
spanned entire continents; most notably, the luxurious Orient-Express linked Paris to Istanbul’s Art Nouveau Sirkeci Station.
travel has since fallen in and out of favor. Recently, the growth of high-speed
rail has been accompanied by interest in restoring and building iconic train
stations. In London, for instance, workers cleaned
300,000 pounds of dirt from the neo-Gothic red brick façade of St. Pancras and
restored 8,000 glass roof panes.
And in Melbourne, a thorough overhaul has converted
Southern Cross Station into a cutting-edge landmark whose undulating glass roof
also serves a practical purpose: ventilating the train platforms by drawing
train exhaust through the pitched domes.
welcome change after years in which train travel more often took a backseat to
cars and planes, particularly in America, where some stations fell into decline
or faced the wrecking ball. Detroit’s Michigan Central Station was
abandoned in 1988, although broken windows and graffiti give its Beaux-Arts
exterior an eerie beauty. Perhaps most infamously, New York’s gorgeous Penn Station was
demolished in the 1960s, only to be replaced by the current dreary underground
has wrestled with concepts for a majestic new Penn Station and Madison Square
Garden for more than a decade, so far without success. But elsewhere, cities
are embracing their train stations. After all, even fliers often arrive via
airport trains, which means the station is their introduction to a new
destination. Still other travelers appreciate the benefits of a scenic,
hassle-free train ride.
don’t need to show up at the station hours in advance to go through
airport-like security. But we recommend arriving early for a more pleasant
reason: to take stock of these gorgeous cathedrals to locomotion.