6 train stations that are must-see destinations
These architectural marvels are worth a visit.
Train stations – full of commuters coming and going – can also be places to stop and look around. Often retaining the romance of a bygone era, these stations double as museums, shopping malls and event venues. On your next trip, you might find yourself passing through one of these iconic stations. Or you might just want to visit them even if you aren't taking a train as they are destination-worthy in and of themselves.
Hop on and take a tour with us around the globe...
1. Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central Terminal was once the smaller, shabbier cousin to Manhattan's Pennsylvania Station, but when the latter was unfortunately destroyed by overzealous developers in 1964, the former became he railway star of New York City. Grand Central is one of the world's most iconic stations –about 700,000 commuters pass through the station daily. But non-commuters visit the terminal for high-end coffee, shopping at gourmet-oriented Grand Central Market, seafood at the Oyster Bar or to have a cocktail at the throwback-fancy Campbell Apartment.
2. Antwerp Central Station
Built in 1905, this Belgian station has four levels. (Photo: Paul Hermans/Wikimedia Commons)
The eclectic neo-Baroque station serves local commuter rail, and the high-speed trains that connect Amsterdam to Paris and Lille. There's also plenty of shopping and dining – and beautiful interior architecture to enjoy. It has been named among the top 5 European train stations numerous times.
3. The First Station in Jerusalem
The First Station in Jerusalem was, well, the first train station in town, beginning rail operations in 1892. For many years after it fell into disuse it lay empty, but the classy vintage structure was saved and updated in 2013. While it no longer serves commuters or rail travelers, the vintage space has been transformed into a modern multi-use community area, including shops, restaurants, an art gallery, a venue for events, and a kids' play space.
4. St. Pancras International station in London
St. Pancras International station in London recently got a facelift. According to Travel & Leisure magazine, more than $800 million was spent to restore the 1868 landmark, which had been neglected for years: "Workers cleaned 300,000 pounds of dirt from the bricks and restored 8,000 panes of glass in the roof of the immense train shed." The station has plenty of shopping (as is evidenced in the image above), as well as lots of places to eat and drink, and rotating art exhibits, making it a destination for non-travelers as well.
5. Atotcha Train Station in Madrid
Madrid's Atotcha Train Station serves as the central rail hub for the vibrant Spanish city, but its antique train shed, now located adjacent to the new, has been transformed. The Bosque del Recuerdo (Forest of Remembrance) is surrounded by a stream to celebrate life and also honors the victims of the 2004 Madrid bombing with 192 cypress and olive trees (one for each of the victims killed that day). The area is also home to several cafes and – this being Spain – a nightclub.
6. The Grand Canyon Depot in Arizona
The Grand Canyon Depot, in Williams, AZ was a combination railroad hotel and depot for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe lines. "When you take a train to the Grand Canyon, you're going to stop there," says Janet Greenstein Potter, the author of Great American Railway Stations. One of only three (of an original 14) log depots in the United States, the two-story building was constructed in 1909-1910. The depot is part of the Grand Canyon National Park Historic District and is a National Historic Landmark. The El Tovar hotel, just behind the depot itself, is one of the national park service's Grand Canyon lodgings.
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