Train travel is not only fast and efficient, but also provides ample opportunity to admire some of the world's greatest architecture. Though now a less used means of transport, train travel was once at the forefront of innovation, revolutionizing travel and prompting monarchs, architects, and city planners to build magnificent train stations to impress passengers. From lavish Beaux-Arts stations to ultra-modern masterpieces, here are 20 beautiful railway stations around the world.
1. Grand Central Terminal, New York
Popularly known as Grand Central Station, this railway station was officially named Grand Central Terminal. It is one of the most famous railway stations in the United States of America and is named as the most beautiful station in the world. Grand Central covers 48 acres (19 ha) and has 44 platforms, more than any other railroad station in the world. Its platforms, all below ground, serve 30 tracks on the upper level and 26 on the lower, though only 43 tracks are currently in use for passenger service. The total number of tracks along platforms and in rail yards exceeds 100 as most previous tracks that are not in regular use are used for the rail yard.
2. St Pancras International, London
The station was constructed by the Midland Railway in 1868 in order for them to have a dedicated London terminus. Widely known for its Victorian architecture, the station is a Grade I listed building. The station has 15 platforms, a shopping centre, and a coach facility. St Pancras is owned by London and Continental Railways (LCR) and is managed by Network Rail (High Speed), a subsidiary of Network Rail.
3. Estacion De Madrid Atocha, Madrid
Madrid Atocha is the largest railway station in Madrid. It is the primary station serving commuter trains (Cercanías), intercity and regional trains from the south, and the AVE high speed trains from Barcelona (Catalonia), Zaragoza (Aragon), Seville (Andalusia) and Valencia (Levante Region). These train services are run by the Spanish national rail company, Renfe. From 2014, this station is connected everyday to Marseille in France.
4. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) formerly known as Victoria Terminus is a historic railway station and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India which serves as the headquarters of the Central Railways. The station was built in 1887 in the Bori Bunder area of Mumbai to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. The station's name was changed from Victoria Terminus (with code BB) to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (with code CSTM) in March 1996 in honour of Emperor Chhatrapati Shivaji, founder of the Maratha Empire. In 2017, the station was again renamed Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (with code CSMT).
5. Estacao De Sao Bento, Portugal
Occupying the site of the former convent of S. Bento de Avé-Maria, the Estação de São Bento is celebrated for its exquisite blue and white mural depicting scenes from Portugal's history. It took artist Jorge Colaço 14 years to complete the masterpiece made of 20,000 tin-glazed ceramic tiles. The exterior isn't bad either-architect Marques da Silva was inspired by Parisian architecture and included a mansard roof and stone façade in his design.
6. Antwerp Centraal Station, 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. Haydarpaşa Terminal, Istanbul
The station building built in 1909 by the Anatolian Railway (CFOA) as the western terminus of the Baghdad and Hedjaz railways, has become a symbol of Istanbul and Turkey and is famous throughout the Middle East. Haydarpaşa is situated on an embankment over the Bosphorus just south of the Port of Haydarpaşa and is slightly north from central Kadıköy. Until the suspension of rail service, ferry service was available to Eminönü, Karaköy and Kadıköy from the station's ferry dock.
8. Liege-Guillemins, Belgium
Santiago Calatrava's sleek, curvaceous train station in Liège has earned the contemporary architect countless accolades and attracts architecture buffs to this small Belgian city. Made of steel, glass, and white concrete, the station seems to bring the outside in, with light pouring in through the windows and skylights. High-speed trains shuttle passengers off to other parts of Belgium, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. The main concourse has plenty of shops, cafés, and restaurants, plus a tourist information office and ticket office.
9. Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, Malaysia
Eastern and Western architectural styles blend at Kuala Lumpur's gleaming white railway station, forming an eclectic mix. Mughal, Moorish Revival, and Indo-Saracenic elements co-exist in the station designed under British colonial rule and completed in 1910. It was originally the city's main railway hub for the Federated Malayan States Railways and the Malayan Railway, though Kuala Lumpur Sentral Station has occupied that role since 2001. Today, the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station serves commuter trains.
10. Kanazawa Station, Japan
The ultra-modern entrance to the Kanazawa Station was unveiled in 2005 to mixed reviews, but it has become a much-admired site since. Initially, many felt the modern architecture didn’t represent the historic town, which was miraculously unharmed during WWII and has preserved the former samurai quarters and geisha district. The station's hand-drum-shaped wooden Tsuzumi Gate and glass and steel Motenashi dome have come to stand for the fusion of modern technology with traditional forms. Outside, a futuristic fountain displays the time like a digital clock.