The top 10 most beautiful train stations in the world

Few people can resist the charm of the most beautiful train stations in Europe and the world. Some of these stations are decidedly old, and have remained unchanged over time: take the small, picturesque station of Hua Hin, in Thailand, for example, that was built of wood in 1926 and is still intact today; or St. Pancras station, in London, built in 1869, with its distinctive single-span iron roof, that is still one of the most important historical monuments of the city. Some of the other stations are particularly innovative or futuristic, such as the high-speed station at Reggio Emilia Mediopadana, designed by Santiago Calatrava, or the soaring shape of Rotterdam Centraal station, which was completely restored in 2014.

The top 10 most beautiful train stations in the world

Which are the most beautiful train stations in the world? We have already mentioned some of them, but none of these made it onto the list of the top ten, proof of how difficult it is to choose them based on the beauty of the architecture. Let’s take a look then at the ten most beautiful stations at a world level.

1 – Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai

The list of the 10 most beautiful train stations in the world starts in India: the Chhatrapati Shivaji station in Mumbai was built in 1888 in neo-Gothic Victorian style, and is one of the oldest stations in the whole of India. Since 2004 this enormous work of architecture has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage list, to promote and protect its architecture, as well as the interior decoration.

2 – Gare do Oriente, Lisbon

The eastern station in Lisbon is considered one of the most beautiful stations in Europe and the world, particularly because of its distinctive canopy, designed by Santiago Calatrava: in fact, the canopy becomes more and more mesmerizing the closer you get to it. The building was also an integral part of Expo 1998. Calatrava’s intention, with this as with other works, was to allow as much natural light to enter as possible.

3 – Estación de Atocha, Madrid

Remaining on the Iberian Peninsula, we move to the main station in Madrid, unfortunately well-known as a result of the terrorist bombing that took place here in March 2004. Passengers getting off trains at the Estación de Atocha in the Spanish capital find themselves inside what appears to be an enormous greenhouse because they are surrounded by a lush tropical garden actually inside the station: it covers an area of about 400,000 square metres and houses a total of 7,000 plants.

4 – Grand Central Terminal, New York

We move to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, to discover another of the most beautiful railway stations in the world. This station stands out for its size even more than its beauty, however: the Grand Central Terminal, located in Midtown Manhattan, in New York, is actually the largest station in the world in terms of the area it covers. Built in 1871, this station is in Beaux-Art style, with grand frescos, huge decorated chandeliers and an iconic opal clock with 4 faces, and even a tennis court.

5 – Milan central station

The list of the most beautiful train stations in the world cannot fail to include Milan, one of the busiest Italian stations. Designed by Ulisse Stacchini, it is known around the world for its rich Liberty-style decoration. Inaugurated in 1931 by Victor Emanuel III, it replaced the previous Central Station built in 1864, on the site where the Piazza della Repubblica now stands.

6 – Kanazawa Station

Next we move to Japan, to Kanazawa station: passengers passing through this station will certainly be struck by the grand Tsuzumi-mon gateway. It consists of two grand pillars and a large canopy roof, all made mainly of wood, evoking the traditional Japanese drums. Making the structure even more memorable is the contrast with the canopy behind it, made of steel and glass.

7 – Gare du Nord, Paris

Paris has several different railway stations which are internationally renowned for their beauty, from Gare de Lyon on. But the one that stands out the most is probably the Gare du Nord, the oldest and the largest in the French capital. Inaugurated in 1846, it was partially demolished 14 years later and then reconstructed in 1860; it is distinctive for the majestic triumphal arch on the facade, ornamented with 23 statues depicting national and international destinations.

8 – Hauptbahnhof in Berlin

Another imposing, architecturally interesting and symbolically powerful station is located in Berlin: this cathedral of railway traffic designed by Meinhard von Gerkan is the largest major intersection railway station on multiple levels in Europe. Designed between the two World Wars, it was only finally completed in 2006, when the project was taken up again after the fall of the Berlin wall. This was the site of the Lehrter Bahnhof, in fact, the last stop in West Germany before the customs.

9 – Helsinki Central, Helsinki

Renamed Helsingin päärautatieasema-Helsingfors centralstation from 2010 onwards, the central station in Helsinki has 4 large statues at the entrance holding light globes, in an Art Nouveau touch, while the choice of materials reflects National Romantic style. It is an architectural masterpiece of a complex that never fails to amaze and was designed in 1904 by Eliel Saaarinen.

10 – Liège-Guillemins station

Concluding the list of the 10 most beautiful train stations in the world is the station of Liège. From the outside it does not immediately appear to be a railway station: it could perhaps be a stadium or a conference centre. Built in 1842 and restored on several occasions, since 2009 it has had a grand transparent canopy in steel and glass, 145 metres long in total.

Other beautiful train stations that are famous for their architecture

As we have already said, it is not easy to choose just 10 of the most beautiful railway stations in the world: many buildings must inevitably remain off the list which, because of the boldness or originality of their design, should not be ignored. So, to add to our top 10, here are some other train stations that certainly merit a visit:

Napoli Afragola, Naples
● Flinders Street Station, Melbourne
● Central Railway Station, Maputo
● Gare de Metz-Ville, Metz
● Dunedin Station, Dunedin
● Estacao de Sao Bento, Porto
● King’s Cross Station, London
● Los Angeles Union Station, Los Angeles
● Haydarpasa Terminal, Istanbul
Union Station DC, Washington
● Bahnhof Strasbourg-Ville, Strasbourg