Take a look at the below list of Top 10 Most Amazing Railway Stations in The World in 2017. Gone are the days of listening to the wind howl on a gloomy, deserted, station platform! Times past, many train stations were little more than pick-up and drop-off points. But today for many it’s all about the whole travel experience, not just a case of getting from A to B. Even the smaller, local railway stations house coffee bars and shops, albeit on a smaller scale. If you are traveling between some of the major cities and countries, prepare to be wowed with some amazing – even spectacular – sights, and that’s before you’ve even left the station!
Here are ten railway stations that may tick more than one box when it comes to atmosphere, sights and facilities:
List of Top 10 Most Amazing Railway Stations in The World 2017
10. Cascada de la Macarena, Argentina
It’s the story behind this station that makes it amazing. Situated in Patagonia, it is completely isolated, quite fitting for its history. Known as ‘The End of the World Station’, not only does it terminate in the farthest southern region, but was used as a freight line serving the prison in Ushuaia, to transport timber. Considering its route over vast distances of unspoiled and virtually uninhabited countryside, finally terminating in the far South, it really was the ‘End of the Line’ in more ways than one! Should you take this train today expect some stunning scenery, as it is now a heritage railway, traveling into Tierra del Fuego National Park.
9. Limoges Benedictins Station, France
Classical beauty would perhaps best describe this station, with its cupola and clock tower surrounded by traditional architecture. Rated as one of the most beautiful European railway stations 2017, its interior has stained glass windows in Art Deco style, together with sculptures of a neoclassical influence. It was named after a Benedictine Monastery.
8. Shinjuku Station, Japan
Reputed to be the world’s second largest railway station, and listed in The Guinness Book of World Records as the busiest, the sheer size of Shinjuku Station is remarkable. Built in 1885, it’s hard to imagine how it looked back then! Today there are 36 platforms in total, and 200 exits in its underground arcade (added in 1959), comprising a dozen or so railway and subway lines. Serving as a hub between the western suburbs and central Tokyo, over 200 million passengers travel through per day, and not just for trains! The expansive surrounding area provides shops, business and entertainment, whilst the station itself is topped by a large bus terminal.
7. Tanggula Mountain Railway Station, Tibet
For those of us who associate Tibet with vast areas of terrain untouched by time, bordered by formidable mountains and few passable roads, Tanggula Mountain Station may come as a shock. Not only is it the highest station in the world, but a surprisingly modern one. It sits isolated, with the majestic Tanggula mountains taking backstage in the far distance. Situated on the Qinghai Tibet line (which stretches 1215 miles from Qinghai to Lhasa), at a height of more than 16,000 feet above sea level, the air is pure but also thin. Thankfully, Oxygen is provided for travelers in the waiting room, and the train is equipped with oxygenated carriages together with tinted windows to protect from UV rays. Building the line itself was no mean feat – not only due to permafrost, but also having to pass through Kunlun’s earthquake zone! Overall, construction took 20 years to finish from its opening in 1985, to completion in 2005.
6. Union Station, Chicago
On entering this building, you may think you have walked into an historical mansion rather than a train station! The waiting room is known as the ‘Great Hall’ and easily lives up to its name. Designed by Daniel Burnham, the outstanding architecture has a high concave ceiling of 115 feet, is 300 feet long, barrel-vaulted and 5-story. Add to that the Tennessee pink marble columned walls and flooring, it’s little wonder the building is considered an ‘historical achievement’. The trains are tucked away in the subway below, out of sight and no doubt out of mind for many first-time visitors! Having around 120,000 passengers per day, it is ranked as third busiest station in the US 2017. Built at the cost of $75 million to replace an existing, overcrowded, station (the Grand Passenger, 1881), it took twelve years to complete, opening in 1925. But it’s not only about the trains: the Union Station opens its doors to weddings and filmmakers alike, featuring as a set for ‘ER’, ‘Chain Reaction’ and ‘The Untouchables’ to name but a few.
5. Sao Bento Station, Portugal
Situated in Porto, the complete history of Portugal is depicted across 20,000 Azulejo wall tiles within the building. It took the artist, Jorge Colaço, sixteen years to complete, starting in 2005. The intricate artwork is beautiful, in classic blue and white glaze. Scenes depicted are the battles, royalty and systems of transport, as well as the lifestyle, of the period. King Carlos I laid the first stone down when building commenced in 1900, to open in 1916.
4. Komsomolskaya Station, Moscow
Resembling more a Russian palace than a metro, if the huge columns, ornaments and ornate panels fail to inspire, then perhaps the precious gemstones (used in the design) will. Built in 1952, it tells a story of how Russia gained independence following its long struggle, and ends with a large mosaic of the ‘Soviet Order of Victory’. There is so much artwork to view you’re unlikely to get bored if the train is late! The beauty doesn’t end there, as even the platform is lit by chandeliers. Avoiding the rush hour may be best, though, as this station gets overcrowded.
3. Haydarpaşa Station, Istanbul
Although closed in 2013, with its future undecided as yet, the station remains the headquarters for the state railways and sits on the waterfront of the Bosphorus Strait. A large, domineering building, it is rated as the most majestic railway station in Turkey with its circular turrets, clock tower and balconies. Previously a terminal for trains serving Anatolia, and Neoclassical in design, the station was gifted to the Sultan Abdülhamid II by Kaiser Wilhelm II, and houses a library together with items of furniture from the Ottoman era. At the entrance, marble steps lead inside to a grand stained glass window and foliage garlands.
2. Liège-Guillemins Station, Belgium
Of ultra-modern design, this station is a major hub with high speed trains serving France, Luxembourg, Germany and The Netherlands. Santiago Calatrava, a famed Catalan architect, used glass with steel for the vaulted roof. Shops, tourist information, and restaurants are all under cover in the central area of the station. What makes this station amazing is the canopy, which not only looks stunning but spans five platforms, stretching over 145 metres. Below ground, a pedestrian system connects both ends of the building. Add to that 1,500 spaces for parking, and it is of no surprise that this station won an award for Excellence from the European Concrete Societies Network.
1. Hungerburg Station, Innsbruck
What is amazing about this station is the design: it looks nothing like a railway station or any usual building. Designer Zaha Hadid was inspired by the natural movement and formation of ice; the station takes on a fluid-like form and is stunning to look at. It was built on a request for four cable railway stations, to take passengers North to the mountains of Innsbruck. Construction began in 2004 and was completed in just three years. Officially known as the Hungerburgbahn hybrid funicular, the name belies the extreme technical challenges faced by the designer – and the new bar raised when those challenges were met! The passenger trains are described as a ‘gondolas’ which gently ‘float’ (via cable) to a height of 860 metres above sea level, at their destination – the Hungerburg. If this panoramic view doesn’t float your boat, you can continue to the Seegrube (1,905 metres high) via cable car and then on to the Hafelekarbahn (2,256 metres high), for a stunning view way above the clouds.
So, whether you prefer modern stations of glass, chrome and steel or classical ones with ornate carvings, paintings and accessories, there is something for every taste in these top 10 amazing railway stations 2017!