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The Most Beautifully Designed Train Stations Around the World

While trains may seem like an outdated form of transportation, they can be a highly effective and sustainable option. From historical stations that are grand and ornate, to modern feats of engineering, they are a beautiful building that makes the form of transportation all the more enticing. 

The History of Train Stations

The world’s first recorded railway station was The Mount on the Oystermouth Railway (later to be known as the Swansea and Mumbles) in Swansea, Wales, which began passenger service in 1807, although the trains were horsedrawn rather than by locomotives. The two-storey Mount Clare station in Baltimore, Maryland, United States, which survives as a museum, first saw passenger service as the terminus of the horse-drawn Baltimore and Ohio Railroad on 22 May 1830. In the United States in particular, rail travel was highly associated with idealogical and economic ideals for the country. To understand the importance of the train station in the United States of America as a building type, one must familiarise with the country’s Railroad Era and its significance in American history. The invention of the locomotive due to the Industrial Revolution was a stepping stone to a capitalist and mobile society and served initially for intercontinental expansion. At the outbreak of the respective wars, it was a means of transporting goods and soldiers.  As a symbol of America’s relentless pursuit of speed, innovation, technology, and the changing political landscape, the Railroad’s arrival was encapsulated in an ideal structure. As the importance of the Railroad increased, so did its associated architecture. Each city began seeking to represent and stage its respective entrance, embodied by the arrival at a station. 


Station with train and coal depot by Gustave Le Gray, (about 1850–1860s). The oldest terminal station in the world was Crown Street railway station in Liverpool, England, built in 1830, on the locomotive-hauled Liverpool to Manchester line. The station was slightly older than the still extant Liverpool Road railway station terminal in Manchester. The station was the first to incorporate a train shed. Crown Street station was demolished in 1836, as the Liverpool terminal station moved to Lime Street railway station. Crown Street station was converted to a goods station terminal. The first stations had little in the way of buildings or amenities. The first stations in the modern sense were on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, opened in 1830. Manchester’s Liverpool Road Station, the second oldest terminal station in the world, is preserved as part of the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. It resembles a row of Georgian houses.

In the earliest days of railways, nobody knew how a station should be or what it should look like; it was simply to accommodate staff and passengers waiting for trains. Sometimes old buildings were used for station purposes. Even the first names given to stations did not clearly indicate their function. In some countries (such as France or Spain), stations were initially called “pier” where people board ships. Similarly with airplanes, the word “airport” derived its name from ships as “the port for air traffic”. Intermediate stations were simply known as “halts”. The first stations were often modest, functional buildings. In many cases, stations also served other purposes of the railway company such as main offices, sometimes headquarters or maintenance workshops, etc. Stations were systematically located out of the city centre. There was no question of disrupting or destroying the cities at that time – in some cases that would come later. In the early days of railways the train was considered impressive and futuristic but not a clean mode of transport. Early stations were sometimes built with both passenger and freight facilities, though some railway lines were goods-only or passenger-only, and if a line was dual-purpose there would often be a freight depot apart from the passenger station. Dual-purpose stations can sometimes still be found today, though in many cases goods facilities are restricted to major stations. 

When the growth of passenger and freight traffic began to structure countries and society, railway companies became increasingly important and needed more financing. Consequently, a railway’s façade to the city (the station) had to be more impressive in order to build investor confidence and attract more money to finance this mode of transport which would change the world. In the second half of the 19th century large, iconic buildings started to emerge in big (and smaller) cities and the names of architects began to appear alongside those of railway companies. The first dilemma regarding the functional design of stations (and railway operations in general) in big cities was whether they should be the terminus or a through-station. In big cities it was thought that stations should represent the end of the railway line, and consequently tracks should end at the station terminal.Many stations date from the 19th century and reflect the grandiose architecture of the time, lending prestige to the city as well as to railway operations. Countries where railways arrived later may still have such architecture, as later stations often imitated 19th-century styles. Various forms of architecture have been used in the construction of stations, from those boasting grand, intricate, Baroque- or Gothic-style edifices, to plainer utilitarian or modernist styles. Stations in Europe tended to follow British designs and were in some countries, like Italy, financed by British railway companies. 

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Stations built more recently often have a similar feel to airports, with a simple, abstract style. Examples of modern stations include those on newer high-speed rail networks, such as the Shinkansen in Japan, THSR in the Republic of China, TGV lines in France, and ICE lines in Germany.

The 20 Most Spectacular Railway Stations Around the World 

1. Toronto Union Station

Union Station is Canada’s busiest, multi-modal passenger transportation hub, a designated national historic site and a significant part of Toronto’s history and identity. More than a quarter-million people use Union Station daily. The City led Union Station’s revitalization with three objectives: to improve the quality and capacity of pedestrian movement, to restore heritage elements and to transform the Station into a major destination for shopping, dining and visiting.

Construction on this iconic landmark began in 1914 amidst a materials shortage during World War I, but the station didn’t officially open until 1927. Since then, Union Station has welcomed waves of immigrants to Toronto, survived a major fire, and endured more than 90 years of wear and tear. In 1975, Parks Canada designated Union Station a National Historic Site because it was, and still is, the country’s finest example of a classical beaux-arts railway station. Union Station is the largest of the great urban train stations built during the early 20th century. Since acquiring Union Station in 2000, the City continues to own, manage and improve the station and is currently leading a multi-year revitalization that will make Union Station, one of Toronto’s crown jewels, spectacular again.

Union Station was designed in the grand manner of the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris by a team of architects composed of the Montreal firm of G.A. Ross and R.H. MacDonald, Hugh Jones of the CPR and John M. Lyle of Toronto. It was built by Canadian Pacific Railway and Grand Trunk Railway at a time when a railway station was viewed as the gateway to a city, Union Station was the largest and most opulent train station erected in Canada during the last great phase in railway station construction. Construction began in 1913 but was delayed for several years because of the First World War.

The shape of the ceiling is echoed in the four-storey, barrel-vaulted windows on the east and west walls. Mid-way up the north and south walls are carved the names of the cities that were then serviced by the CPR and the Canadian National Railways (CNR), the government-owned railway that replaced the Grand Trunk. The list alternates from side to side, naming the cities from east to west. The interior walls are of Zumbro stone from Missouri; the floors are Tennessee marble, laid in a herringbone pattern. The exterior walls of the station are Indiana and Queenston limestone. Each of the 22 Bedford limestone columns weighs 75 tons is 40 feet high.


2. World Trade Center Transportation Hub

Architect Santiago Calatrava’s highly anticipated World Trade Center Transportation Hub opened in March in Lower Manhattan. The centerpiece of the project is the 800,000-square-foot glass-and-steel structure known as the Oculus. The hub connects 11 subway lines, the PATH train, the Battery Park City Ferry Terminal, and several downtown buildings. The soaring main hall features white marble floors and a 355-foot retractable skylight. The Oculus is also now home to the 365,000-square-foot Westfield World Trade Center mall, which opened in August.

Calatrava’s first major design decision for the WTC Transportation Hub was to conceive the building at grade, the ‘Oculus’, as a free standing structure and situate it along the southern edge of Daniel Libeskind’s ‘Wedge of Light’ plaza. This treatment of the site creates a kind of pause amid the dense commercial towers and links the procession of green spaces extending from City Hall Park to the churchyard of St. Paul’s, through the WTC Transportation Hub plaza to the gardens of the Memorial and Battery Park along the Hudson. The ‘Oculus’ is comprised of steel ribs and glass arrayed in a large elliptical shape. The ribs extend to create two canopies over the north and south portions of the plaza.

The rafters spring from two 350 ft arches flanking the project’s central axis. Between the arches, a 330 ft operable skylight frames a slice of the New York sky, and opens on temperate days as well as annually on September 11. Although suggestive of motifs from many traditions (the Byzantine mandorla, the wings of cherubim above the Ark of the Covenant, or the sheltering wings on Egyptian canopic urns), the form may be summed up, according to Santiago Calatrava, by the image of a bird released from a child’s hands. This Oculus allows natural daylight to flood into the WTC Transportation Hub; filtering down through all levels eventually to the PATH train platform, approximately 60 ft below the street. At night, the illuminated building will serve as a lantern in its neighborhood. Santiago Calatrava speaks of light as a structural element in the WTC Transportation Hub, saying that the building is supported by ‘columns of light.’The combination of natural light and sculptural form give dignity and beauty to the building’s lower levels and pedestrian walkways, and provide New York City with a kind of public space it has not previously enjoyed.


3. Liège-Guillemins Railway Station

Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava designed the latest incarnation of the Liège, Belgiumis rail station using steel, glass, and white concrete. His version, completed in 2009, replaces a 1958 International Style building (which itself replaced an 1842 Beaux Arts structure), intentionally lacks a single façade in order to unite two neighborhoods previously separated by the railroad tracks. Calatrava’s interest in the plasticity of concrete is evident here, and the immense ribbed vault he created flows organically, suggesting a wave breaking over the thousands of passengers that flow under it daily.

The choice to make Liège the crossing point of a railway goes back to the first sketches of the railway from Antwerp to the Rhine, drawn up just after the Belgian Revolution. A royal decree issued on 21 March 1832 mentions it and a law dated 1 May 1834 provides for the creation of four lines, including the “eastern line”, from Mechelen to Liège and the Prussian border. In 1838, only three years after the first continental railway, a line linking Brussels and Ans, in the northern suburbs of Liège, was opened. With the arrival of the railway, Liège needed an interior station. In 1842, a wooden construction was erected on the site of the former convent of the Guillemites. This first Liège-Guillemins railway station was inaugurated in May 1842, linking the valley to the upper Ans station. The Guillemins site, located slightly outside the city centre, was chosen for technical reasons over the local preference for the Place Saint-Lambert. In 1843, the first international railway connection was born, linking Liège to Aachen and Cologne (Germany).

At the end of the 20th century, high-speed trains were introduced, requiring a new station since the existing platforms were too small. The new station, by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, was officially opened on 18 September 2009, with a show by the stage director Franco Dragone. It has nine tracks and five platforms (three of 450 metres (1,480 ft) and two of 350 metres (1,150 ft)). All the tracks around the station have been modernised to allow high-speed arrival and departure. The new station is made of steel, glass and white concrete. It includes a monumental arch, 160 metres (520 ft) long and 32 metres (105 ft) high. The building costs were €312 million.


4. Milano Centrale

Italy’s second-largest station (after Rome’s Stazione Termini) opened in Milan in 1931. It was originally modeled after Union Station in Washington, D.C., but when Mussolini came into power, he expanded the Beaux Arts design to include elements of Art Nouveau and Art Deco. The stunning results feature 118,000 square feet of marble flooring, an array of muscular stone sculptures, and five train sheds covered with vast iron-and-glass canopies.

It was opened in the early 1930s, replacing an older and smaller station. The imposing design of the building’s facade was intended to showcase the dominance of then-Prime Minister Mussolini’s fascist regime. It’s the second-largest station in Italy, behind Roma Termini. There are 24 tracks at Centrale, with a soaring glass and metal arched roof over the platforms. There is regular daily service to cities throughout Italy, as well as international destinations in other parts of Europe. Over 320,000 people passing through the station daily. On the platform level of the station, there are a few shops and restaurants, as well as an information office.

The first Milano Centrale station opened in 1864 in the area now occupied by the Piazza della Repubblica, south of the modern station. It was designed by French architect Louis-Jules Bouchot (1817–1907) and its architectural style was reminiscent of Parisian buildings of that period. The station was designed to replace Porta Tosa station (opened in 1846 as the terminus of the line to Treviglio and eventually Venice) and Porta Nuova station (opened in 1850 as the second terminus on the line to Monza, which was eventually extended to Chiasso) and was interconnected with all lines, either existing or under construction, surrounding Milan. It remained in operation until 30 June 1931, when the current station was opened. There is now no trace of the old station left.

King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy laid the cornerstone of the new station on April 28, 1906, before a blueprint for the station had even been chosen. The last, real, contest for its construction was won in 1912 by architect Ulisse Stacchini, whose design was modeled after Washington Union Station in Washington, DC, and the construction of the new station began. The purported style was an eclectic mix called “Assyrian-Lombard.”

Due to the Italian economic crisis during World War I, construction proceeded very slowly, and the project, rather simple at the beginning, kept changing and became more and more complex and majestic. This happened especially when Benito Mussolini became Prime Minister, and wanted the station to represent the power of the Fascist regime. The major changes were the new platform types and the introduction of the great steel canopies by Alberto Fava; 341 m (1,119 ft) long and covering an area of 66,500 square metres (716,000 sq ft). The station played a vital role during the Holocaust in Italy, when Jewish inmates from the San Vittore Prison, previously captured in northern Italy, would be taken to a secret track, Binario 21, underneath the station to be deported to extermination camps. Altogether, 15 deportation trains with 1,200 prisoners left the station from Binario 21. A Memoriale della Shoah was opened at the former platform in January 2013 to commemorate these events.

The station has no definite architectural style, but is a blend of many different styles, especially Liberty and Art Deco, but not limited to those. It is adorned with numerous sculptures. “The ‘incongruous envelope of stone’ (Attilio Pracchi) of this gigantic and monumental building dominates Piazza Duca d’Aosta.”  On September 25, 2006, officials announced a €100 million project, already in progress, to refurbish the station. Of the total cost, €20 million has been allocated to restore “certain areas of high artistic value” while the remaining €80 million will be used for more general improvements to the station to make it more functional with the current railway services. The project includes moving the ticket office and installing new elevators and escalators for increased accessibility. There remain unrestored and inaccessible areas to the public within the station, including a waiting room with swastikas on the floor designed to receive Hitler. The fraught and painful history of the station makes it historically heavy, and it remains a vestige from the past, while the architecture and current use of the space bring new meaning. 


5. Hungerburg Station

Architect Zaha Hadid first made her mark on Austria’s Innsbruck region with the 2002 Bergisel ski-jump tower. She returned with this design for the Nordpark Cable Railway, a four-station funicular line that replaced a 100-year-old tram and transports passengers up a vertiginous incline for 1.1 miles. Each of Hadid’s stations is capped with swooping glass shapes that suggest ice floes and snowdrifts. Here, a view of Hungerburg Station, the final stop in the funicular’s ascent which was completed in 2007.

The line is mainly used for tourism, including from the Kongresshaus adjacent to the eponymous Kongresshaus station, and from the Nordkette ski area, which is accessible via the Nordkette Cable Car from the square opposite Hungerburg station. The line has relatively lower utility as a commuting route, as its upper station is located at the far eastern end of the Hungerburg district, away from most housing estates. At the lower end, the line terminates in an area containing the Kongresshaus convention centre, parking garages, bus parking, and part of the University of Innsbruck grounds. However, it is isolated by over 800 m from Innsbruck Hauptbahnhof, the city’s main railway station, with the gap bridged by city bus lines.

The decision by city leadership to implement the new project was the object of heavy criticism by citizens’ initiatives and the city’s political opposition. A referendum on the future of the Hungerburgbahn had been demanded by a variety of groups opposed to the project, but the demand was not met. The formerly historically listed railway was to be preserved as a symbol of the city of Innsbruck just a few weeks before its 100th anniversary of service, and last-minute demolition was to be prevented. There was also criticism of the planned de facto privatization of the railway as part of the new construction project and associated fears that fares could rise significantly. As a result of the controversy, the groundbreaking for the new rail project had to be carried out under police protection. December 8, 2005 was abruptly set as the last day of operation of the old Hungerburgbahn, with staff forbidden from holding hold farewell celebrations or from informing the public about the end of operations.


6. Sirkeci Railway Station

As Istanbul’s gateway to Europe, the magnificent Sirkeci station was appropriately a melding of French Art Nouveau and Ottoman aesthetics. When it opened in 1890, it was considered quite modern for its time, boasting 300 gas lanterns and tile stoves imported from Austria. The station, which stands at the foot of the Bosporus Strait, features bands of bricks across its façade, clock towers, and stained-glass windows. The station served as the terminus for the famed Orient Express, which connected Paris’s Gare de l’Est to Turkey in an 80-hour journey, until the line stopped serving Istanbul in 1977.

After the Crimean War, the Ottoman authorities concluded that a railway connecting Europe with İstanbul was necessary. The first contract was signed with Labro, a British member of parliament, in January 1857. The contract was cancelled three months later because Labro was unable to provide the investment capital required. Similar second and third contracts signed with British and Belgian entrepreneurs in 1860 and 1868 ended with the same result. On 17 April 1869 the concession for the “Rumeli Railroad” was awarded to Baron Maurice de Hirsch (Moritz Freiherr Hirsch auf Gereuth), a Bavaria-born banker from Belgium. The project foresaw a route from İstanbul via Edirne, Plovdiv and Sarajevo to the shore of the Sava River. The construction of the first 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) from İstanbul to Halkalı began on 4 June 1870 and was completed on 4 January 1871. An extension of the line to Sirkeci was demanded as the starting point since Yeşilköy was too far away from Eminönü, the main business district of that epoch. The first proposed option for the line was a route from Beyazit down to the shore of the Golden Horn. The Ottoman Sultan Abdülaziz decided and permitted the route to run on the shoreline of the Sea of Marmara bordering the walls of Topkapı Palace’s lower garden. The extension line was completed on 21 July 1872. In 1873, a “temporary” terminus station in Sirkeci was built.


7. Antwerpen-Centraal Station

The glorious waiting hall of the Antwerp station, completed in 1905, is lavishly adorned with more than 20 kinds of marble and stone, but what keeps this from feeling ponderous is the counterpoint of soaring arched windows and skylights that fill the concourse with light. The upper train platform, too, features a magnificent vaulted iron-and-glass roof. Thanks to a careful 2009 restoration, dilapidated pediments and turrets that were removed in the 1950s have been reconstructed, and the integrity of the original terminal has been maintained even as new tunnels have been dug to allow for through traffic and high-speed rail.

Antwerp’s first station was the terminus of the Brussels–Mechelen–Antwerp railway line, which opened on 3 June 1836. The original station building was made of wood and was replaced by a new and larger building on the occasion of the opening of the new international connection to the Netherlands in 1854–55. The current terminal station building was constructed between 1895 and 1905 as a replacement for the first station. The stone-clad building was designed by the architect Louis Delacenserie. The viaduct into the station is also a notable structure designed by local architect Jan Van Asperen. A plaque on the north wall bears the name Middenstatie (“Middle Station”), an expression now antiquated in Dutch. In front of the station, a large public square, known as the Statieplein (“Station Square”), was created, acting as an entry to the city for its many commuters. In 1935, the square’s name was changed to the Koningin Astridplein, in honour of the recently deceased Queen Astrid.


8. New York Grand Central Station

If you’ve ever been to New York City, you’ve probably seen the iconic grand central station. I remember the first time I walked inside, the feeling of grandiosity washed over me: making the arduous and monotonous experience of travel into something exciting. The distinctive architecture and interior design of Grand Central Terminal’s station house have earned it several landmark designations, including as a National Historic Landmark. Its Beaux-Arts design incorporates numerous works of art. Grand Central Terminal is one of the world’s ten most visited tourist attractions, with 21.6 million visitors in 2018, excluding train and subway passengers. The terminal’s Main Concourse is often used as a meeting place, and is especially featured in films and television. Grand Central Terminal contains a variety of stores and food vendors, including upscale restaurants and bars, two food halls, and a grocery marketplace.

Grand Central Terminal was designed and built with two main levels for passengers: an upper for intercity trains and a lower for commuter trains. This configuration, devised by New York Central vice president William J. Wilgus, separated intercity and commuter-rail passengers, smoothing the flow of people in and through the station. After intercity service ended in 1991, the upper level was renamed the Main Concourse and the lower the Dining Concourse.

Grand Central Terminal was built by and named for the New York Central Railroad; it also served the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad and, later, successors to the New York Central. Opened in 1913, the terminal was built on the site of two similarly-named predecessor stations, the first of which dates to 1871. Grand Central Terminal served intercity trains until 1991, when Amtrak began routing its trains through nearby Penn Station. The East Side Access project, which will bring Long Island Rail Road service to the new Grand Central Madison station beneath the terminal, is expected to be completed in late 2022.


9. Metro Station Komsomolskaya

Joseph Stalin oversaw the construction of this baroque “palace for the people,” which was completed in 1952 only a year before he died. The platform of the Moscow subway station pictured here has 68 limestone-and-marble pillars rising from a granite floor. Lining its sunflower-yellow ceiling are glittering mosaic panels decorated with smalt (cobalt glass ground into pigment) and precious stones, each mural paying tribute to a historic Russian military triumph. A decade after Stalin—and such opulence—had fallen out of favor, his images in two panels were removed, and the party line turned to “kilometers at the expense of architecture,” an ideology favoring function over form.

Stations on the first southern segment of the Koltsevaya line were dedicated to the victory over Nazi Germany, while those on the northern segment (Belorusskaya-Koltsevaya to Komsomolskaya) were dedicated to the theme of post-war labour. Komsomolskaya was designed by Alexey Shchusev as an illustration of a historical speech given by Joseph Stalin November 7, 1941. In the speech, Stalin evoked the memories of Alexander Nevsky, Dmitry Donskoy and other military leaders of the past, and all these historical figures eventually appeared on the mosaics of Komsomolskaya. The early roots of the station’s design can be traced to a 1944 draft by Shchusev implemented in pure Petrine baroque, a local adaptation of the 17th century Dutch Golden Age. However, after the end of World War II the drafts of 1944 were discarded and the stations of the Koltsevaya line were completed in the mainstream late Stalinist style of the period.


10. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus

Formerly known as Victoria Terminus Station, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai, India is a mash-up of Victorian Italianate Gothic Revival and traditional Indian architecture. Designed to serve the country’s leading mercantile port and completed in 1888, the station took ten years to build, with tremendous labor involved in executing architect F. W. Stevens’s plan for decorative stone carvings and statuary of local flora and fauna, gargoyles, allegorical grotesques, and busts representing the country’s castes and communities.

The terminus was designed by a British born architectural engineer Frederick William Stevens from an initial design by Axel Haig, in an exuberant Italian Gothic style. Its construction began in 1878, in a location south of the old Bori Bunder railway station, and was completed in 1887, the year marking 50 years of Queen Victoria’s rule. In March 1996 the station name was changed from Victoria Terminus to “Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus” (with station code CST) after Shivaji, the 17th-century warrior king who employed guerrilla tactics to contest the Mughal Empire and found a new state in the western Marathi-speaking regions of the Deccan Plateau. Shivaji’s name is often preceded by “Chhatrapati”, a title with literal meaning, “a king dignified by the emblem of a parasol; a great king.” In 2017, the station was again renamed “Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus” (with code CSMT), where the title Maharaj has literal meaning, “Great king; emperor.” Both former initials “VT” and the current, “CST”, are also commonly used.


11. Napoli Afragola Station

Just over seven miles north of Naples, the Zaha Hadid Architects-Napoli Afragola Station opened in June of 2017 as a solution to the increase in demand for train travel throughout the small European country. The train station boasts the British-Iranian architect’s highly modern—almost futuristic—look, with an enormous elevated concourse comprised of exposed steel bones and a glazed roof. From afar, however, the young train station looks like a bright white abstract wave-like shape among a completely beige landscape. Surely, that was the architect’s intention. 

Italian state railway operator Rete Ferroviaria Italiana (RFI) developed the station. In 2003, a contract was awarded to architect Zaha Hadid Architects for the station design. The project was delayed in part due to budgetary shortfalls.  Construction activity was stop-and-go through early 2015.  From its inception the building was envisioned as a bridge over its eight tracks, with four levels and a maximum height of 25 metres (82 ft). Accommodating the station’s concourse, the bridge has an area of 20,000 square metres (220,000 sq ft), as well as provision for an additional 10,000 square metres (110,000 sq ft).Placing the concourse directly above each platform minimizes passenger walking, without prioritizing the communities at one end of the station over the other.

To adapt the station to its context, it includes views of the nearby Mount Vesuvius. The design addressed seismic requirements by dividing the building into zones no greater in length than 50 metres; enabling the sections to move individually in a seismic event. Considerable attention was paid to the station’s overall environmental design, which was developed by engineering practice Max Fordham. Reportedly, a key objective of the structure was to have minimised energy consumption, favour passive operations over active interventions, and as little environmental impact as possible, in both the construction and operational phases. One major example of this design attention is the glazed roof, which features internal shading and acoustic baffles, limiting the amount of direct sunlight and glare on the concourse as well directing excess heat away via purpose-built roof vents; this enabled natural ventilation practices to be used under normal conditions.  While mechanical ventilation systems are also present in the building, such as the roof-level extractor fans, these are intended to be used only during the extremes of summer and winter. Wherever realistically possible, passive means of environmental regulation were used.  This includes cooling with ground water. Benches are actively cooled for comfort.


12. Hua Hin Train Station

In Hua Hin, Thailand, the Hua Hin train station is one of the country’s oldest railway hubs. Built in a traditional Thai architectural style, perhaps the small station’s most striking space is the Royal Waiting Room, erected in 1911 during the reign of King Rama. However, it’s been knocked down and rebuilt more than a few times. The original station building was erected a year earlier in 1910 and later rebuilt in 1926 by Prince Purachatra Jayakara, who wanted a more Victorian feel for the petite structure. And in 1967, Colonel Saeng Chulacharit planned for a relocation of the Sanam Chandra Palace Railway pavilion to what is currently in Hua Hin.

Its most striking feature is the splendid Royal Waiting Room constructed in the Thai architectural style. The room was relocated from Sanam Chan Palace in nakhon Pathom province during the reign of King Rama VI. Hua Hin night market The most colorful spot in Hua Hin during the night, the market offer a wide array of Food, drinks, deserts, memorable souvenirs; all kinds of freshly-prepared dishes. Famous are Pad Thai, Hoi Thod, fresh Seafood, indian roti bread, coconut ice cream, etc. (the list is endless) This market will delight visitors wishing to savor the real taste of Hua Hin. In 1967, Colonel Saeng Chulacharit (former minister of the State Railway of Thailand) coordinated the relocation of the Sanam Chandra Palace Railway Pavilion from Sanam Chandra Palace, to Hua Hin and it was renamed to “Phra Mongkut Klao Pavilion”. Nowadays, it is one of the main attractions at the station.


13. Helsinki Central Station

In the capital of Finland, the Helsinki Central Station is one of the city’s most widely recognized landmarks. The one standing today, an Art Deco-looking structure with a curved grand entrance, replaced the city’s first railway station, which was built in 1860 and ran between Helsinki and Hämeenlinna. Though the new one was met with instant popularity, it was off to a rocky start because Carl Albert Edelfelt’s (the original architect) structure was too small, so the government organized a contest to replace him. After receiving 21 entries, Eliel Saarinen won the coveted role as the railway station’s new designer. His new creation was finished in 1909, and the station opened 10 years later. His pure national romanticist design sparked off a vigorous debate about the architecture of major public buildings, with demands for a modern, rational style. Saarinen himself abandoned romanticism altogether and re-designed the station completely. The new design was finished in 1909 and the new station building was opened in 1919. In 2000, a glass roof, which had already been in the original drawings by Eliel Saarinen, was built over the railway station’s central platforms, although to a new design. In 2003, the shopping wing Kauppakuja was opened along with a hotel.

The station is mostly clad in Finnish granite, and its distinguishing features are its clock tower and the two pairs of statuesholding the spherical lamps, lit at night-time, on either side of the main entrance. Animated characters based on the statues have recently been featured in some major advertising campaigns by Finland’s government-owned railway operator VR, to the extent of releasing rap singles allegedly sung by Kivimiehet (“The stone men”).


14. Gare do Oriente 

Designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, who also created the Olympic Sports Complex of Athens, the Milwaukee Art Musem, and the World Trade Center Transportation Hub in lower Manhattan, Gare do Oriente in Lisbon opened in 1998. Though modern at first glance, the new station subtly references the Gothic style that reigned in Europe between the late 12th and 16th centuries. The lattice structure that seemingly hovers over the terminal and galleries beneath, however, is Gare do Oriente’s most recognizable feature. 

n 1994, the station was proposed as part of the modernization of the Linha do Norte, a modification to the rail line to facilitate the future development of a new station in eastern Lisbon. Located along Avenida D. João II, over Avenida de Berlim and Rua Conselheiro Mariano de Carvalho, the station was planned to occupy the lands once occupied by Apeadeiro dos Olivais, which was demolished in the 1990s in order to make way for the new station. Bids for building the project on lands to be used for the 1998 exposition were solicited internationally. The concept was originally designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava in 1995, and built by Necso. Oriente Station is situated in an urban area of reclaimed industrial and abandoned buildings fronting the northern margin of the Tagus River, situated 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) from the city centre.


15. Jungfraujoch Station

Jungfraujoch Station, 3,500 meters above sea level, is a mountain railway station in the Bernese Alps—specifically Fieschertal, Switzerland. After decades of trying to figure out how to inaugurate a railway station so high up, a final plan was put forward in 1893 by Adolf Guyer-Zeller, an industrialist and railway expert from Zürich. It wasn’t built, though, until 1930. The station is located east of the Jungfraujoch, less than 300 metres away, below the Sphinx ridge. The Jungfraujoch itself is a snow saddle constituting the lowest point of the ridge between the Jungfrau and the Mönch.  A complex of tunnels connects the railway station to the Top of Europe building, overlooking the Aletsch Glacier on the south side, and an elevator to the summit of the Sphinx, the peak overlooking the saddle from the east. At the Sphinx are enclosed and open viewing platforms, with views over both sides of the Jungfraujoch and the surrounding peaks. A scientific observatory, the Sphinx Observatory, is also located here. 


16. Union Terminal

A National Historic Landmark in Cincinnati, the Union Terminal is an Art Deco masterpiece that opened in 1933, a time when the end of the railroad era seemed near. After all, car ownership was massively up throughout the 1920s and ’30s, making people think rail was relatively over. Of course, that never happened, and the new terminal thrived, even during the Depression years.  The impressive station was the work of Roland Wank, of New York firm Fellheimer and Wagner and Philadelphia-based architect Paul Philippe Cret, who spent four years designing and building the beloved structure.

Union Terminal’s distinctive architecture, interior design, and history have earned it several landmark designations, including as a National Historic Landmark. Its Art Deco design incorporates several contemporaneous works of art, including two of the Winold Reiss industrial murals, a set of sixteen mosaic murals depicting Cincinnati industry commissioned for the terminal in 1931. The main space in the facility, the Rotunda, has two enormous mosaic murals designed by Reiss. Taxi and bus driveways leading to and from the Rotunda are now used as museum space. The train concourse was another significant portion of the terminal, though no longer extant. It held all sixteen of Reiss’s industrial murals, along with other significant art and design features. Wank’s original plan was traditional and featured Gothic architecture: large arches, vaulted ceilings, and conventional benches in long rows. In 1930, while initial construction took place, the terminal company persuaded the architects to hire Paul Philippe Cret as a design consultant. In 1931-32, Cret altered the design aesthetic:  thereafter, the terminal and its supporting buildings used modern architecture (later known as Art Deco), even in places not visible or open to the public.


17. King’s Cross Station

The historic section of King’s Cross Station in London was designed by architect Lewis Cubitt and completed in 1852. At the time, its two train sheds’ glass roofs were considered cutting-edge, although their laminated-timber beams were replaced with steel girders, and their two platforms and 14 tracks quickly fell short of demand. A new edge has been honed with a 15-year, $650-million renovation project that has as its most prominent feature this new concourse designed by John McAslan. Covering a new ticket hall and pedestrian thoroughfare, the enormous single-span structure, a sweeping steel grid that looks a bit like a bisected funnel, opened in time for the 2012 Olympics. In the late 20th century, the area around the station became known for its seedy and downmarket character, and was used as a backdrop for several films as a result. A major redevelopment was undertaken in the 21st century, including restoration of the original roof, and the station became well known for its association with the Harry Potter books and films, particularly the fictional Platform 9¾. Following extensive track remodelling in 2021, platform 10 was taken out of use, with platform 11 becoming the new 10.


18. Dunedin Station

This fairytale castle of basalt and limestone led to architect George Troup becoming known as ‘Gingerbread George’ (though he had apparently preferred an alternative design that had a ‘Scottish manor house’ feel). Once New Zealand’s busiest station, the building has seen a huge decline in traffic and now also houses a restaurant, art gallery and the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame. Every year, the main platform is transformed into the ‘world’s longest runway’ for a fashion show. Surveyor Charles Kettle planned the New Zealand city of Dunedin to be an “Edin­burgh of the South”, to create beautiful views over the town centre, the hilly suburbs and the harbour. Dunedin’s unique wildlife was what initially drew European settlers to the area; Otago Harbour became an international whaling and sealing port by the late 1830s.

Unlike the English settlement of the rest of New Zealand, Dunedin was founded by the Scottish Free Church in 1848. Dunedin’s strong cultural links to its Scottish predecessor continue to this day. It would be interesting to know what difference the strong Scottish links have made. As in Australia, it was the discovery of gold in Central Otago in 1861 that caused Dunedin’s population and trade to grow rapidly. In a fairly short time, the ornamented Victorian architectural heritage of Dunedin, including the large churches and public build­ings, were built with elaborate and matching ornament­at­ion. New Zealand’s first Bot­anic Garden, established in 1863, created a model for public gard­ens around the country. The University of Otago, New Zealand’s oldest, was set up in 1869, appropriate since Dunedin was the nation’s commercial centre.


19. São Bento, Porto

Built in the early twentieth century on the site of an abandoned convent – of which only the ghost of a nun supposedly remains – São Bento has a fine, respectable granite exterior. But then you head inside. And… just… wow. The walls and ceilings are decorated with more than 20,000 tiles depicting significant moments in Portuguese history, painted in the blue-and-white ‘azulejo’ style by Jorge Colaço. No Porto itinerary is complete without a trip here.

In the 19th century, the railway developed throughout Portugal. The city of Porto therefore decided to build a station right in the historic center, on the site of the Benedictine Convent of São Bento de Avé Maria. This convent – which was pretty much abandoned at the end of the 19th century – was destroyed to make way for the city’s brand new railway station. São Bento Station started operating in 1896, although the building the hall of the railway station was completed twenty years later, in 1916. Apparently, the Portuguese architect José Marques da Silva, who was in charge of the construction work, intended to build an architectural masterpiece… so much so that he completely lost sight of reality and simply forgot to include counters in the original blueprint of the railway station! 


20. St. Pancras International

London is rife with train stations, but some, like St. Pancras International, are more beautiful than others. Originally opened during the height of the Victorian era in 1868, the station is largely considered one of the most elegant stations in the world. Designed by William Henry Barlow and built by the Midland Railway Company, who infused the station with Gothic moments throughout, St. Pancras International served as the main line into London from neighboring cities. And with all of the travel into the city, the M.R. constructed the Midland Grand Hotel right on the station’s façade. Not only does it still operate as a hotel, but it’s a Grade I-listed building.

The station was constructed by the Midland Railway (MR), which had an extensive rail network across the Midlands and the North of England, but no dedicated line into London. After rail traffic problems following the 1862 International Exhibition, the MR decided to build a connection from Bedford to London with its own terminus. The station was designed by William Henry Barlow and constructed with a single-span iron roof. Following the station’s opening on 1 October 1868, the MR constructed the Midland Grand Hotel on the station’s façade, which has been widely praised for its architecture and is now a Grade I listed building along with the rest of the station. In the late 1960s, plans were made to demolish St Pancras entirely and divert services for King’s Cross and Euston, leading to fierce opposition. The complex underwent an £800 million refurbishment to become the terminal for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link/High-Speed 1/HS1 as part of an urban regeneration plan across East London, which was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in November 2007.


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