Awe Inspiring Stations
At ShowMeTheJourney we believe that stations can enhance the pleasures of train travel, when the trains and the views from them are uninteresting, a station can be the most special aspect of taking a journey.
We’re not architectural experts, but that isn’t the point of this list. These are the stations where we suggest pausing to take in your surrounding and not only of the station itself, but also what lies outside their walls.
As will be seen it’s the location that gives some of these stations their wow factor.
So to the list – which we present in alphabetical order as it was impossible to agree on our favourites.
Click on the station name to access more info.
Spend more than 5 mins on ShowMeTheJourney and you’ll soon realise that we’ve taken a lot pictures of stations – the point being that the more fabulous a station is, the more likely it is that people will be inspired to take a train.
Normally we’re the only people engaging in this activity, but Antwerpen-Centraal was an exception to this rule.
Probably due to it being the most wonderful building in Antwerpen/Antwerp, heck it’s a contender for the most fantastic building in Belgium.
ARNHEM CENTRAAL (more info coming soon)
Despite its charms Arnhem was being overlooked on Where To Go in The Netherlands lists, so its new station was intended to act as a marker that it can be a great place to spend some time when travelling between Amsterdam and Germany.
What Arnhem has ended up with is one of the must visit new buildings in the whole of The Netherlands - we went there just to see the station and it more than justified the trip.
For smaller towns and cities, French railway operator, SNCF has often compromised with a solution that having a high speed station on the very edge of town, or off in the distance, is better than having no station at all..
Most of these new stations for the TGV trains are very unremarkable, but Avignon TGV is the exception.
It entices travellers with a promise that they're efforts to reach the station will be amply rewarded.
Post-reunification the German capital was in need of an architectural icon to symbolize east meeting west, but many trains also travel between north and south through the city.
Hence the need for a cross-shaped station - with east/west trains above ground and the north/south trains below.
But those below ground platforms couldn’t be dark and gloomy so the solution was to dig an enormous hole in the ground and to fill it with light.
BILBAO ABANDO (more info coming soon)
Bilbao-Abando is an average sized 19th century terminus with small-scale grandeur, but it has an atypical feature, which earns it a place on the list.
Namely the stunning wall of stained glass, which divides the concourse from its main hall.
Though it was the surprise of its discovery, which helped give the station its sense of wonder, when we arrived there - which we’ve now just ruined, so apologies for that.
Blackfriars station has been reconstructed, so that it spans the River Thames and it is this that gives the station its wow factor.
Some of the best river views in London can now be seen from its platforms, looking east there is a great vista taking in St Pauls, Tate Modern, The Shard, Tower Bridge and the distant buildings of Canary Wharf.
And if you use the entrance on the north bank, don’t miss the wall of tiles at the station, that date back to when it was first constructed.
They showcase the near and (very) far romantic destinations, that users of the station were once connected to.
Those 19th century glass roofs, which transform stations into cathedral-like buildings dedicated to travel, give dozens of stations across Europe a sense of wonder.
The longest and arguably most spectacular example of one of these roofs can be seen at Bordeaux St-Jean.
And it now sparkles like new, thanks to the station restoration timed to coincide with the opening of the extended high speed line between Paris and Bordeaux.
Testament to leaving beautiful things in their original state, Budapest-Keleti may not be the user-friendly station on this list, but it’s still a fantastic living monument to the golden age of rail travel.