Trains and train stations are some of the most important achievements by humanity, as they play a vital role in driving development and enhancing people’s daily life. The first train station emerged in Wales in 1807, and from that point on, train stations sprouted all across the globe.
As trains became a primary mode of transportation in many regions, newer stations replaced older ones or left them abandoned. With the advent of more efficient transportation options like buses, the number of abandoned train stations increased, and now nearly every country boasts at least one. Despite being left to decay, these abandoned stations hold significance as they represent a crucial period in human history.
Here are some of the most beautiful and famous abandoned train stations around the world that you can visit:
Canfranc International Railway Station – Huesca, Spain
Canfranc International Railway Station, located in the Spanish Pyrenees, was a magnificent hub for cross-border train travel when it opened in 1928. The Spanish wanted a grand border station to show the French what they could do, and this opulent railway station was the result. However, the station seemed cursed from the start, as it suffered from fires, smuggling, and a long run of bad luck before closing in 1970. It holds a fascinating history as it was part of a World War II escape route, witnessing arrests, espionage, and gold trafficking.
The station’s main building incorporates magnificent Beaux-Arts architecture, boasting an impressive 365 windows and 156 doors, making it one of Europe’s largest and most opulent stations. Surprisingly, it has now become a popular destination for travelers, with more visitors between 2013 to 2017 than during its operational days. However, you can’t visit it as an abandoned station anymore – it has been transformed into a luxurious hotel by the Barcelo Hotel Group. The former station welcomed its first guests in January 2023.
City Hall Station – New York, New York
The City Hall subway station was an architectural gem. Featuring stunning Romanesque Revival style, vaulted ceilings, glass tiles, grand chandeliers, and skylights, it was truly a sight to behold. Sadly, it was one of the least-used stops in the system, and in 1945, it closed during renovations to accommodate longer trains. You might just catch the Ninja Turtles here – yes, this abandoned subway was the inspiration for their famous headquarters, where they strategized and enjoyed their favorite pizza.
Although it is closed, you can still visit this masterpiece with guided tours. Until the late 1990s, passengers on the Lexington Avenue Local, now known as the six train, had to get off at the Brooklyn Bridge stop. However, things have changed since then. The skylights at City Hall Station have been reopened, and the station lights are now back on. While passengers are not allowed to exit the train and explore the City Hall Station as they used to, they can still stay on the train as it loops around on the tracks and heads back north. Still, it’s considered one of the most beautiful former stations on the planet.
Lagos Old Railway Station – Lagos, Portugal
In the sunny Algarve, there are more than just sunburnt tourists – the region has plenty of history and culture, and the abandoned Lagos Old Railway Station gives a glimpse into its glorious past. This derelict gem has a beautiful lattice facade and vibrant mosaic tiles showcasing timeless craftsmanship and colors.
Since its opening in 1922, it has seen decades of history. Although a modern replacement was built in 2003, the old station’s red roof and mosaic tiles continue to attract photographers and curious souls. Interestingly, this station marks one of the two extreme points in the Eurasian rail network, the other being in Vietnam. But that changed in December 2021 when the Boten-Vientiane railway was completed.
Old Central Station – Jersey City, New Jersey
In the heart of Liberty State Park stands the captivating Old Central Station of Jersey City. This Romanesque beauty, adorned in red brick, once bustled with millions of passengers, was a key transit hub alongside Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Constructed in 1889, the terminal saw millions of passengers annually during its peak years, including numerous immigrants arriving in the United States through Ellis Island. Sadly, the Great Depression and the rise of automobiles led to its eventual shutdown. Since then, this historic gem has found new life as a film set, concert venue, and a Fourth of July firework.
As you step out of the terminal, you’ll notice wooden bricks embedded in the ground, a glimpse of the past preserved with care. Gazing up at the terminal building’s clock tower, you’ll spot sculptures representing science, commerce, industry, and agriculture, a testament to its history as a bustling economic center. While the old tracks are now fenced off due to structural concerns, visitors can still admire this architectural treasure from the outside and capture its beauty through photographs.s viewing spot.
Gudauta Station – Abkhazia, Georgia
In the disputed region in the Caucasus, there’s a hidden gem for abandoned train station enthusiasts –Gudauta Station in Abkhazia. Despite the turbulent times in the area, this charmer has been attracting visitors for years. You won’t have trouble finding it; it’s nestled in a quaint Black Sea town with around 10,000 residents.
This abandoned depot, though no longer in use since 1990, proudly displays its striking columned façade. However, the station’s grand exterior is just the beginning of its allure. Step inside, and you’ll be mesmerized by the stunning main hall, even though time has taken its toll.
Michigan Central Station – Detroit, USA
Often dubbed the Ellis Island of Detroit, Michigan, Central Station stands as a Beaux-Arts masterpiece that once served as a vital transportation hub for the city. From carrying locals to war to welcoming those seeking opportunities in the booming auto industry, this station played a significant role in Detroit’s history. Although it closed its doors in 1988 due to the rise of highways and airports, the station remained a visually stunning structure that has made appearances in numerous movies and music videos over the years. Its main waiting room was inspired by ancient Roman bathhouses, boasting marble walls and vaulted ceilings, while the ten platforms were adorned with intriguing flourishes.
In 2018, Ford purchased the building and had plans to restore it, promising an exciting new chapter for this iconic landmark. It is currently under renovation to become a mixed-use facility and a cornerstone of Ford’s Corktown campus and is yet to reopen.
Garub Station – Garub, Namibia
Nestled in the heart of a desert near Luderitz, Namibia lies the eerie Garub railway station. Built-in 1906, it served as a crucial stop along the railway line connecting Luderitz and Aus. In the past, this inhospitable land witnessed industrial trains transporting the country’s natural riches to the rest of the world. However, like many other abandoned train stations, it eventually fell into disuse after years of service.
Today, the station stands alone in the desert, a testament to its isolation under the blazing African sun. Graffiti artists have left their mark on the building, adding an artistic touch, but some locals may not be thrilled about it. If you plan to visit, respect the surroundings and appreciate the unique beauty of this remote spot. The striking red water tanks of Garub add a photogenic touch, but reaching this remote spot requires some effort. And while you’re in Namibia, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the stunning Sossusvlei National Park, one of the most amazing national parks in the world.
Anhalter Bahnhof – Berlin, Germany
For over a century, Anhalter Bahnhof in Berlin served as a vital railway station, connecting the city to major German hubs like Munich, Frankfurt, and Leipzig. It welcomed thousands of travelers daily during its heyday. But beneath its grand facade lies a darker past – the station was used to deport a significant portion of Berlin’s Jewish population during World War II. The station suffered severe damage from bombings, leading to its abandonment. Despite authorities demolishing much of the station in 1960, a part of it remained standing as a poignant reminder of its role in Berlin’s history. While its ruins stand today, the station’s former glory as one of the world’s largest terminals and a significant historical symbol cannot be forgotten.
In the face of destruction, the station’s history lives on through the planned Exile Museum, set to open in 2025. This museum aims to tell the stories of famous German emigrants, including Thomas Mann and Albert Einstein, and the lesser-known 50,000 individuals who fled the Nazi regime. It will be a fitting tribute to the lives affected by the station’s role during a dark chapter in history.
16th Street Station – Oakland, California
In the early 1900s, the 16th Street Station in Oakland, California, served as a bustling hub for the Southern Pacific Railroad. Designed by renowned architect Jarvis Hunt, it shows the mark of the City Beautiful movement that encouraged the construction of grandiose sites to elevate the cities around them. Hundreds of thousands of people passed through its grand doors, traveling across the Bay Area. However, with the introduction of buses and the aftermath of a devastating earthquake, the station’s glory days ended in 1994.
Today, the 16th Street Station stands as a haunting reminder of its past, one of the many abandoned train stations in the US left to the mercy of decay. Despite its gradual decline, this impressive structure still captivates with its Beaux-Arts architectural style. It has become one of the spookiest abandoned train stations in the country, but its story doesn’t end there. Even in its abandonment, the 16th Street Station finds new life as a space for private events.
Aldwych Station – London, England
Aldwych Station, also known as the Strand, welcomed its first passengers in 1907 and operated for several decades before its closure six years before the turn of the century. Throughout its active years, this underground train station witnessed a myriad of events, from being featured in films to experiencing a homemade bomb explosion. It even played a vital role as a shelter for many people during the tumultuous times of World War II.
Today, Aldwych Station stands abandoned, but its rich history and impressive archway make it a compelling destination for curious visitors. From serving millions of Londoners on the Piccadilly line to being transformed into an air-raid shelter and storing priceless artworks from the British Museum during the war, this station holds countless intriguing stories.
Former Train Station of Izamal – Izamal, Mexico
The Izamal train station in Mexico is a reminder of a bygone era when trains were a major mode of transportation. Built-in the late 1800s, it served as a crucial link in the country’s rail network. However, with the advent of other transportation options like buses, the station gradually fell out of use and was eventually abandoned. Today, it stands as a silent witness to the once-thriving era of train transport in Mexican history.
By early 2022, the abandoned Izamal train station had transformed into a storage space under the Municipal Police Department’s control. However, with the ongoing construction of the Tren Maya (Maya Train) project since December 2018, and the inclusion of Izamal as one of its stops, it appears that the town’s rail history might not be entirely over yet.
Kyu-Shirataki Station – Hokkaido, Japan
The Kyu-Shirataki station in Engaru town, Japan, opened in 1947 and operated for decades. However, a low number of passengers caused it to close. Like many remote places in Japan, the station remains abandoned and faces the passage of time. This small, rural train station is not known for its beauty or grandeur like the other train stations in this list – it’s amazing because of its touching story.
The station showcased a heartwarming display of loyalty to its last passenger, a teenage high school girl. Even after announcing its closure, the station continued to transport her to school for three years and even took her to her graduation ceremony before finally shutting down in 2016.
Varshavsky Station – St. Petersburg, Russia
Varshavsky Station in St. Petersburg, Russia, originally served as a means to transport the Tsar from the city to his residence in Gatchina. As time passed, it expanded its connections to other European capitals. However, in 2001, after a century and a half of operation, the station closed its doors.
The grand building underwent a transformation, first becoming a museum, which also closed and relocated to a new museum. It was later converted into a shopping center. Constructed between 1857 and 1860, the beautiful station featured a mixture of historical styles.
Radegast Train Station – Łódź, Poland
Radegast Train Station stands as a stark reminder of one of the most horrific periods in modern history—the Holocaust. Originally built in 1926, the station was used to hold Jews before transporting them to extermination camps. It played a devastating role during this dark chapter, transporting approximately 200,000 Jewish and Romani people to their deaths.
Today, the Radegast Station’s renovated building currently houses one of the divisions of the Łódź Independence Traditions Museum. It also serves as a solemn monument, honoring the memory of those who passed through here during those harrowing times.
Gaudi Station – Barcelona, Spain
The Gaudi Station in Barcelona is one of the many ghost stations in the historic city, but it’s the most glamorous because it’s the only one fully built. However, it never saw any operation. Built with all the necessary facilities in the 1960s, changes in plans rendered it obsolete, and it remained closed.
Surprisingly, the station is remarkably well-preserved, attracting thrill-seekers intrigued by an urban legend claiming passengers have been waiting there even though no train has ever stopped.
Haxo Station – Paris, France
Among France’s eerie abandoned train stations, Haxo Station in Paris stands out as one of the most remarkable. And yes, even in the City of Lights, train stations get abandoned. Haxo Station was never officially used for passenger trains, and it lacks street-level entrances. In the early 1900s, the operators decided to abandon their operations due to profitability concerns.
Over the years, the station has become a canvas for graffiti artists, adding to its mystique. It has even caught the attention of filmmakers who occasionally use it as a shooting location.
Note: Most of these abandoned stations are off-limits to the public, and you should avoid trying to enter them. Some may offer guided tours for visitors, but wandering inside without permission is considered trespassing on private property. Besides, it’s essential to prioritize safety as these stations have been neglected for years and may not be structurally sound. Instead, enjoy the view from a safe distance where you’re allowed to stand and take photos, but refrain from entering or trespassing.
Abandoned train stations can hold a captivating allure that evokes nostalgia, curiosity, and wonder. They offer a glimpse into the past, inviting us to reflect on the human ingenuity and determination that brought them into existence. While most of them may have fallen into disuse, some have the potential for repurposing and revitalization.