8 photos of these architectural marvels

Train stations at first may seem as just transportation hubs where people depart and arrive with no real character, but I beg to differ. Train stations are the epitome of land travels, carrying a lifetime of romance, mystery and comedy. Behold the World’s most iconic train stations!

King’s Cross, London


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St. Pancras is by far one of the most stunning stations I have ever come across. Built in a Gothic revival tone, it has long been hailed for its exquisite Victorian architecture and lavish interior. St. Pancras, just like Charring Cross, Paddington has a hotel just adjacent to the platforms and interconnected with restaurants, shops and cafes. St. Pancras has come to be known as a station of love; Paul Day embodied this in his 9 meter high and 20 ton bronze statue “The Meeting Place” of two lovers in an amorous embrace. St. Pancras has now become one of London’s finest Victorian architecture examples, and a perfect place for a kiss.

Gare Du Nord, Paris


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Gare Du Nord, or “The North Station,” is situated in central Paris, 10th arrondissement. With 190 million passengers per year, it is considered to be the busiest station in the world outside of Japan. Opened in 1864, the current Gare Du Nord replaces the old one. The original station’s facade was removed and transferred to a Northern French City Lille. The train station has been the backdrop of many pop culture’s films and television episodes, such as Ocean’s Twelve and Gossip girl. Gare Du Nord suffers poor traffic circulation due no “major” thoroughfare to the station. When in the 1860s, Paris was rebuilt by Baron Haussmann; he wanted to build a major boulevard that would cut through the old street layout. However, this plan was never realized. Many believe that Haussmann discovered his wife having an affair with the main architect J.I. Hittorff of the station and thus refused to modernize the area around it. However, this story is highly unlikely as Hittorff was already 72 when building the station and died 2 years later.

Atocha Station, Madrid


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Estación de Madrid Atocha is the largest train station in Madrid. At the site of the current station, Madrid’s first railway station was inaugurated on 9 February 1851, but it was destroyed by fire and in 1892 rebuilt in a wrought iron renewal style. The station is better to be considered as a complex of stations. In 1985, a complete remodeling of the complex began and the old terminus was converted into a concourse of shops, restaurants, cafes and a nightclub. Just like the Orsay Museum in Paris, the terminus gained a completely different function – it gained an amazing 4,000m2 tropical garden with palm trees filling up the 27m high glass arch.

Grand Central Terminal


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The Grand Central Station is the epitome of a train station and has stories of mysteries intervening through and through the terminal’s 44 platforms. Grand Central Terminal (GCT) was inaugurated in 1913. Two other train stations precede GCT but were demolished to make way for the new complex. GCT has an estimated 750,000 commuters every day. During the decline of GCT in the 1970s, the station was meant to be partially demolished with a skyscraper expanding from the terminal’s massive weight bearing walls. People such as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis opposed strongly to the demolition, and the station now has become an iconic NYC landmark. The terminal’s best known feature is the celestial ceiling with the depicted zodiac, the view of the Mediterranean winter sky with 2,500 stars. In 1998, a 12 year project was completed to clean the grime off the ceiling of the station (the accumulated grime from cigarette smoke of the million commuters that had passed through).

São Bento Station, Porto, Portugal


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The train station is built on the site of a Benedictine monastery which stood there from the 16th century but burnt down in 1783. In 1900, the site had been poorly kept, so the location was devoted to building the grand central Porto railway station. It took 16 years to complete the station in the French Beaux-Arts style and to adorn the vestibule with more than 20,000 traditional Portuguese tiles (azulejos). The tiles depict historical scenes, landscapes and ethnographic scenes – the blue and white tiles are truly the characteristic that sets São Bento Station apart from the rest.

Antwerpen-Centraal (Antwerp Central Station), Belgium


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Hailed as one of the most iconic and beautiful train stations in the world, Antwerpen-Centraal is a massive example of a stone clad terminus that deserves its titles. The current station was constructed between 1895 and 1905 as a replacement building for an already existing smaller terminus. Designed by Louis Delacenserie and Clement van Bogaert, the station sports a 185 meter long and 44 meter high class arched roof. The most astonishing fact about the station is that it cannot be categorized in any particular architectural style; it is simply eclectic. The station underwent a massive reconstruction that saw the addition of three underground floors and high speed railways.

Gare De Liège-Guillemins, Belgium


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This is the youngest station on the list, being only 7 years old. Gare De Liège-Guillemins is an important transportation hub in the city of Liege, the third largest city in Belgium. Before the current station, 2 older stations existed. In 1842, in the style of Beaux-Arts, the first Liege-Guillemins station was opened. Improved in 1882 and 1905 for the World Fair in Liege, the first station was demolished in 1958 to be replaced by a more modern station in the International Style. The existing station by the Spanish architect S. Calatrava came to life in 2009. It has a glass, steel and concrete exoskeleton creating a 160 meter long and 32 meter high arched roof. The station is a shining example of modern transcendent architecture – airy and aesthetically pleasing from every perspective.

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