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Trains are one of the best means of transportation throughout Europe– they can get you from one country to the next in a matter of hours, they don’t have the same luggage restrictions as airports, and they certainly cause less stress than driving. While we may not usually think of train stations as being a place to visit, other than for a place to catch your train and get from one place to another, or admire for that matter, these eight train stations may make you think otherwise! From traditional and historic to modern and just plain cool, this article will detail all the most beautiful train stations in Europe.
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1. Antwerpen-Centraal Station
Antwerpen-Centraal Station is the main train station in Antwerp, Belgium and features Art Nouveau architecture, drawing on the aesthetics of curved lines from the natural forms of plants and flowers. Also known as Middle Station or the Railroad Cathedral, Leopold II, King of Belgium from 1865 to 1909, had the rail station built as a Neo-Baroque monument to the railway age in 1905. The train station has 4 levels, 24 platforms, and has over 25 train services but don’t worry there is plenty of friendly staff available for travelers!
2. St. Pancras International
Located in Northern London, St. Pancras International is a 19th century red-brick masterpiece and home to the Eurostar, which can take you anywhere in Europe, as well as a wide variety of shops, restaurants, and bars. The station also houses Europe’s longest Champagne bar, the St Pancras Champagne Bar by Searcys, where you can enjoy delicious foods and simply press a button to receive additional Champagne! If you or someone you love is a Harry Potter fan, you can also walk to the iconic ‘Platform 9 ¾’ where some of the Harry Potter movies were filmed!
3. Helsinki Central Station
Another beautiful Art Nouveau styled train station in Europe, the Helsinki Central Station is used by approximately 400,000 people a day! Designed by the famous American- Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen the structure is a monumental landmark in the capital of Finland and even houses a private waiting lounge for the President of Finland and his or her guests. Besides the beautiful architectural style, travelers will also notice the four large “Stone Men” at the entrance of the station who hold spherical lanterns and who can also be seen as animations in Finnish advertisements.
4. Madrid Atocha Railway Station
Opened in 1951, the Madrid Atocha Railway Station in Spain has had over 110 million passengers as of 2017. While this station has beautiful external architecture, this train station in Europe has the coolest waiting area– a jungle! A huge tropical jungle with a turtle pond and over 7,000 plants is the perfect place to wait for one of the many trains that arrive and depart from this station. You’ll also want to make sure that you take the time to look up while here as the roof covering the concourse is made of glass and steel and is a wonderful feat on its own!
5. São Bento Railway Station
Also located in the South, this train station in Europe was built where a Benedictine monastery once stood in the 16th century. The São Bento Railway Station in the historic city of Porto in Portugal has the history of the country in its walls– literally! Over 20,000 magnificent azulejo tin-glazed ceramic tiles depict Portugal’s history, including its royalty, its wars, and of course, its transportation history. It took eleven years for the blue and white tiles to be placed by Portuguese tile painter Jorge Colaço and serves as a beautiful addition to the station but also a wonderful way for travelers to learn more about the country they are visiting.
6. Gare de Lyon
One of the six main railway lines in Paris, Gare de Lyon is one of the busiest train stations in Europe! Built for the World Exposition of 1900, the station offers lines that depart to cities all over France but also has trains to Italy, Spain, and Switzerland. A classic example of the architecture of its time, the notable clock tower at the station was built in similar style to the Big Ben at the United Kingdom Houses of Parliament. Surrounded by such grand architecture, travelers can also enjoy a grand meal at the famous ‘Le Train Bleu,’ a restaurant and deemed historical monument, that offers ornate dining rooms decorated to represent cities and regions in France.
7. Milano Centrale Station
One of the newest built stations mentioned in this article, the Milano Centrale Station in Milan, Italy was opened in 1931 and is the largest train station in Europe by volume! The station is a blend of architecture styles. It has an eclectic mix that can be described as “Assyrian-Lombar,” meaning the station has colonnaded facades covered in statuary and friezes and looks more like a palace or royal opera house than a train station. While admiring the mix of architecture, travelers should also take the time to see the monumental Piazza Duca d’Aosta, right outside the front of the station.
8. Liege-Guillemins Station
While in the same country as Antwerpen-Centraal Station, the Liege-Guillemins instead represents the quintessential modern style of architecture. Modernized and improved, this station is a byproduct of Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava and is made of steel, glass, and white concrete. Relying on the roof for shelter and the building’s identity, Calatrava not only modernized the look and function of the station but also connected two parts of the city that were previously separated by train tracks and made comfort and inter-modality a priority.
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