City gates: world's most famous railway stations
Journeys | 10.09.2020
Even in the age of airplanes, railways remain a popular mode of transportation, with 1.3 billion people traveling by trains annually. For many tourists, acquaintance with the city begins with the railway station. We'll tell you about the most beautiful and unusual stations.
Grand Central Terminal, New York
The station ranks sixth in the world in terms of attendance, with about 26 million people annually.
The majestic Beaux-Arts building was built in 1913 on the site of a previous station called Grand Central Dipot. The construction proceeded with the scale and luxury characteristic of those years – $43 million was spent on the station. There are 44 platforms, cocktail bars and even tennis courts on two levels. The connecting element of the interior is considered to be the station clock by Henry Edward Bedford, which is located in the central hall. The outside of the station building is decorated with sculptures.
During its more than 100-year history, the Central Station took part in the creation of a number of iconic films. Episodes of such films as "Men in Black", "Carlito's Way", "The Fisher King" and many others were filmed here. Other interesting facts about the station can be found in our article.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus was built in the Indian metropolis of Mumbai at the end of the 19th century and was originally called Victoria Terminus. The building was designed by British architect Frederick William Stevens, who was inspired by London's St Pancras, built a few years earlier. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus has a very bizarre façade that includes several architectural styles – the Neo-Gothic that came from Europe and the Indo-Saracenic style characteristic of colonial India. Thanks to this, the building resembles medieval Indian palaces and temples.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is one of the few stations on the UNESCO World Heritage List, to which it was added in 2004. Four years later, the station appeared in the film "Slumdog Millionaire", which was followed by a surge of interest in Indian culture around the world. Despite its status, it continues to function and is the busiest train station on the planet. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is used by about three million people every day – more than in the entire UK rail network.
São Bento Railway Station, Porto
This station was opened in Portugal's second largest city in 1916 after 12 years of construction. When designing the building, the architect José Márquez da Silva relied on the fashionable Beaux-Arts style that came from France and quickly spread throughout the world.
The main decoration of São Bento is the interior. The station's lobby is paneled with traditional Portuguese azulejos. The panels were hand-painted by the artist Jorge Colaço and depict scenes from the history of Portugal. The painting process took 12 years; in total, 20 thousand tiles were used in the design.
Atocha Station, Madrid
The station in the capital of Spain was built in 1892. Together with the architect Alberto Palacio, the engineer Gustave Eiffel, at that time already world-famous for the creation of the Paris tower, worked on the project of the station. The station was named after the ancient gates of the fortress wall, dismantled in 1851.
In 1992, a hundred years after construction, a new modern terminal was added to the station. The original building lost its utilitarian function. Now the former hall houses cafes, shops, a nightclub and even a winter garden – this is the main attraction of the space. About 7,000 plants of 260 species are planted here, including several rare ones, for example, ginkgo biloba and some representatives of carnivorous plants
St Pancras, London
The station was opened in 1868 and forms a complex with the five-star St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel London. The building of the complex is an example of the neo-Gothic style popular in London during the Victorian era. In the 1960s, St. Pancras was threatened with closure and demolition, but the public, led by the poet John Betjeman, defended the station. In 2007 a monument was erected to Betjeman in the building of the station he saved, which became a popular meeting place for tourists and local residents.
Another famous train station, King's Cross, is located very close to St. Pancras. This place is considered a cult place among fans of the Harry Potter universe: the express to the Hogwarts school of wizardry departs from platform 9¾, hidden from non-wizards.
Central Station, Helsinki
Central Station is the most visited building in Finland. The first station in Helsinki was built in 1862, but it soon became clear that it was not able to withstand the growing passenger traffic. Therefore, in 1904, a competition was announced for the design of a new building. Out of 21 works there was chosen the project of Eliel Saarinen, the founder of the Northern Art Nouveau style, prevailing in the architecture of Scandinavia and St. Petersburg in those years.
Due to long and frequent delays, the station was completed in 1919, after Finland gained independence. The most famous decoration element of the station is two pairs of granite giants with lamps in the form of globes installed at the entrance. The author of the giants is the Finnish sculptor Emil Vikström. Like Saarinen, he is considered a representative of the country's golden age in art. The twin giants received a brutal look from Vikstrem's neighbor, the farmer Jalmari Lehtinen.
Kanazawa Station, Kanazawa
As you know, in Japan they take great care of traditions, including architecture. The more interesting and unusual is the building of the railway station in the city of Kanazawa. On the outside, the station is a wooden gate, reminiscent of a ritual torii gate, surrounded by a modern complex of glass and concrete. As conceived by the architect Ryuzo Shirae, the shape of the gate refers to the outlines of the Tsuzumi drum, which was used in Japanese drama theater. But inside the station, under a glass dome, there are seven platforms and a shopping center.
The station didn't come into its own immediately. Some time after its construction in 2005, it was criticized for being too modern, uncharacteristic of a traditional city like Kanazawa. Now the station complex is considered one of the city's attractions.
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