Monday, April 22, 2013

Best and Beautiful Train Stations

St. Pancras International, London
Years ago train travel was the way to get from point A to point B.  Before air travel got us to our destination in less time, the train was the "it" way to get around.  In those days the train stations that were built were truly remarkable, with intricate details similar to cathedrals.  Most were built in the late 19th century during the golden age of train voyage and impressed the wanderlust with glamour and intrigue.  Take a tour of some of the world's most breathtaking stations that were, and in some cases still are, "the place to be".

Sirkeci Station, Istanbul
Gare du Nord, Paris
Atocha Station, Madrid
It should come as no surprise that the first place we visit is Europe.  Known for stunning architecture and world-renowned landmarks, Europe is home to a few of these phenomenal train stations.  First St. Pancras International, London which is Neo-Gothic in style and was impressive when it opened its doors back in 1868.  Sadly, time took its toll on this iconic building, so recently a rather pricey renovation took place to restore it to it's previous glory.  Today it stands as one of the city's more beautiful Victorian sites.   Built in the late 1800's Sirkeci Station, Istanbul was a terminal for the Orient-Express, the train that took travelers from Paris to Istanbul.  This Art Nouveau structure has red brick accents and a rosette stained-glass window that welcomes guests.  Today there is even a once yearly excursion where restored 1930's coaches take patrons along the historic path.  Paris is also quite famous for its impressive architecture and the Gare du Nord, Paris does not disappoint.  Still today it remains one of the busiest and most pristine stations in all of Europe.  The exterior boasts 23 statues while the interior filters sunlight through the space creating a lovely ambiance.  Last but definitely not least is the Atocha Station, Madrid.  A new terminal was opened back in 1992, so the original building was converted into a beautiful garden, nightclub and a few charming cafes.  The garden is full of tropical plants and palm trees that reach toward the steel and glass roof above them, while the the cafes entice travelers to indulge in some delectable treats while waiting for their train.  All of these European stations will prove that beautiful architecture and design is not only meant for religious and government buildings.    

Southern Cross Station, Melbourne
A bit farther south in Australia sits another gorgeous station, the Southern Cross Station, Melbourne.  Once called the Spencer Street Station, this newly remodeled and newly named  locale was modernized in 2005.  The roof, which stretches one city block, looks like a flowing blanket of air above the travelers heads.  The roof looks modern and sleek, but there is function behind it.  The high domes capture the fumes from below and release them outside, almost like a breathable canopy.  To see where this station started, travel to the western end of the building and view a mural showing the history of station.  Old meshes beautifully with new in Australia.      

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai
Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, Malaysia
Mumbai and Kuala Lumpur are not always thought of as locations with magnificent architecture, but by overlooking them you would surely miss out.  Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai was actually designed by a British architect in combination with local craftsmen.  The idea was to blend traditional Indian architecture with a Victorian Gothic Revival.  Today millions of commuters use the station daily making it a vital part of the local business community.  Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, Malaysia was built back in the early 1900's and the style is absolutely unique.  The station is white with a Moorish style and although it is no longer used as the main station, that was taken over by the KL Sentral station back in 2001, it still supports commuter traffic.  Both of these gorgeous train stations help to create a sense of beauty among the stresses of daily rush hour travel.  

Union Station, Washington DC
Union Station, Los Angeles
Grand Central Terminal, New York City
Although the U.S. may not be as famous as Europe for its rich architectural history, there are some rather legendary locations where the landmarks are spectacular.  Washington D.C. has a large number of monuments, buildings and memorials that are known worldwide.  The Union Station, Washington D.C. may not be the top tourist destination when traveling to D.C., but the stop proves to be worthwhile.  It was built in the early 20th century in a Beaux-Arts style.  Modeled after Roman masterpieces, it is finished with white granite, mahogany and gold leafing.  It is a setting so lovely that even a few presidential inaugural balls have been held here.  The other important Union Station is the one found in Los Angeles.  Built to incorporate the prominent Spanish Colonial heritage of the area as well as the Art Deco style that was popular at the time, this stunner has a tall white bell tower on the outside and painted wood ceilings as well as inlaid marble floors on the inside.  Our last US location that captures the attention of many tourists is the Grand Central Terminal in New York City.  Also created in a Beaux-Arts style, the exquisite detail can be seen in every feature throughout the space.  Guests will have a difficult time determining which detail is their favorite, from the 42nd street facade's Tiffany clock to the information booth located in the main concourse that is famous in its own right with a clock tower that has four faces.  There is always the domed blue ceiling that is studded with fiber-optic stars that also mesmerizes tourists and travelers alike.  So much to see in these dazzling U.S. train stations. 

Whether you have a love of history, transportation, architecture or just enjoy touring breathtaking landmarks, you will not be disappointed when stopping at any of these gorgeous spots.  Let WhatAHotel! help to find you the Best Hotel in the city of your choice where you will be sure to have a splendid trip.  Train travel may not be the quickest way to get to where you're going, but if you get to spend a few minutes in any of these lavish stations, it might prove to be the most enjoyable.      

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