It’s pretty much a fact that at some point every little kid spent his or her days “choo choooo-ing” around the house with a tiny wooden train and giggling at the ever-hilarious word “caboose”. Even if you’ve outgrown your striped hat and overalls, you still have the chance to live the childhood dream and enjoy the rich history, beautiful architecture, and downright amazing technology of some of the world’s coolest train stations.
1. Southern Cross Station – Melbourne: The recently remodeled Southern Cross Station has a distinctive wavy roof that looks like a mix between metal ant hills and rolling waves. The roof is both distinctive and oddly beautiful, and even has the practical function of dispelling fumes from the tracks bellow. If you visit the station, be sure to flaunt your cultured side and tell your fellow passengers that the architects who built the station won a prestigious award for its design in 2007.
2. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus – Mumbai: This absolutely stunning train station took 10 years to build, and when it was completed in 1887, it became the symbol of Mumbai as the “Gothic City”. Architecturally, the station is an outstanding example of Victorian Gothic Revival style blended with Indian motifs; its turrets, pointed arches, beautiful stone dome, and eccentric ground plan are all nods to traditional Indian palace architecture. When visiting this station keep your eyes out for expertly carved wood and woven textiles, all made by local Indian craftspeople.
3. Hauptbahnhof – Berlin: This monumental and technically advanced station opened in 2006 after being under construction since the reunification of Berlin in 1989. With a super-modern steel and glass construction, the Hauptbahnhof is the biggest crossing-station in Europe. If you’re planning to train through Europe, this station is a great place to start. From here, you can catch a train to almost anywhere on the continent.
4. Gare du Nord – Paris: You might think the pretty ladies that adorn this stunning Parisian station are just for show, but they actually represent the eight most important destinations the trains served when the station was built in 1846: Brussels, London, Berlin, Vienna, Warsaw, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Cologne, and Paris (the biggest statue on top!). But if you prefer action and adventure to half-naked ladies, be sure review the Bourne trilogy before you visit this station so you can act out some of Matt Damon’s action scenes right where they were filmed!
5. Atocha Station – Madrid: You would never know from the imposing exterior that the interior of Atocha Station looks more like a botanical garden than a train station. With 4,000 square meters of tropical paradise, you can spot exotic plants, flowers, and multiple species of turtles, all while awaiting your train. The station is close to the Reina Sofia Art Museum, so you can easily pop in to have a look while sightseeing around Madrid.
6. Pennsylvania Station – New York: The original Pennsylvania Station was completed in 1910 with a facade of pink granite and considered one of the architectural gems of New York City. Sadly, the original structure of this station was demolished in 1963 to make way for the building of Madison Square Gardens. Although it was a heavy price to pay, Penn Station is still doing pretty well; it’s the busiest station in North America, serving around 1000 people every ninety seconds. And even though the original structure is gone, the legacy of Penn Station lives on; the public outcry over its destruction helped spark the architectural preservation movement of public buildings in the US.
7. Shinjuku Station – Tokyo: The Shinjuku Station holds a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for the busiest train station in terms of sheer number of passengers: the station is used by an average 3.64 million a day! The station is packed with bars, restaurants, and even a couple of department stores. If visiting this station, be ready for some controlled chaos getting on and off the trains!
8. St. Pancra Station – London: St. Pancras was built in 1868 and was originally named The Barlow Shed. After a whopping £800 million in architectural restoration and extension, this station has come a long way from a mere “shed”. Now the London home of the Eurostar (the fastest train in England and third fastest in the world), it is possible to leave St. Pancras at 9:45 am and get to Paris by noon! And if you need a snack before your trip, your options are plenty at St. Pancras. The station is like an upscale shopping district unto itself, boasting chic restaurants and bars like the St. Pancras Grand and The Champagne Bar, independent clothing boutiques, as well as a 7-day-a-week organic farmers market.
9. South Station – Boston: This gorgeous, historic station is the second busiest in New England but still retains some of its antique charm. The facade of the building features one of the only double three-legged hand-wind clock mechanisms in existence, and perched atop the station is an antique eagle statue with an eight-foot wing-span. Inside, much of the original mahogany, polished brass, gas lights and station signage is restored. When visiting the Boston area, check if there are any events planned in South Station for when you’ll be there- concerts, exhibits and ballroom dancing are regular events!
10. Haydarpasa- Istanbul : Given the function of a train station, Haydarapasa in Istanbul has a pretty unique structure. It’s built on wooden piles hammered into the murky sea bed and surrounded on three sides by water! The current structure was built in 1906 by German investors who wanted to solidify Germany’s trade access to the East, and the original building still stands as one of the busiest stations in Turkey. For the best view of this impressive building, hop on a ferry that sails the Bosphorus.