The Antwerp Train Station is one of the most beautiful train stations in the world!
And I'm not saying this because I'm living in Antwerp...
World authorities like CNN, The Telegraph and Newsweek, voted the Antwerp Train Station in their top list of most spectacular railway stations in the world.
The Central Station of Antwerp is rubbing its shoulders between Grand Central Terminal in New York, St. Pancras International in London and , watch your tongue, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai.
If you're thinking of visiting Antwerp, consider arriving at the Antwerp Train Station. This is a grand start to your city trip and an excellent location to explore the Diamond City!
Leopold II, King of the Belgians, reigned over Belgium from 1835 till 1909. For 44 years he was in command and is still the longest reigning king untill today.
He wasn't particulatly a good egg, looking of what he did when he owned Congo as his personal estate. But, he did have a vision for Antwerp.
He instructed the build of a grand railway station for Antwerp. It needed to be big and majestic, travellers needed to feel that they have arrived somewhere.
And, that's what happened.
Architect Louis Delacenserie found his inspiration with the Pantheon in Rome and the, also majestic, station in Luzern, Switzerland.
Unfortunately, the one in Luzern burned down in the seventies...
The Antwerp train station is made out of 2 parts, a stone building and a large steel structure covering the tracks.
The building out of stone is square and has the massive coppola on top. It also has 8 towers and numerous decorations in bright gold.
The tracks are covered by an enormous structure of red steel and glass, with a length of a 186 meters and a width of 66 meters.
So, whether you're in the first or the last wagon, you will board or exit the train nicely protected! Also, imagine how it would have been when those old steam locomotives charged in.... Impressive, right?
The Antwerp train station is a real railway cathedral. Originally only for 10 trains per day, all on the same level and as a head station. Now, it's a railway station on 4 levels and 14 tracks, where trains are passing through and where old and new are fused in a fantastic way!
The high-speed train Thalys runs on the lowest level and connects Antwerp with Paris and Amsterdam.
The renovations took many years, as you can imagine. They ended in 2009 and are a complete success!
King Leopold II opened the station officially in 1905.
The Antwerp Train Station is of course located in the Central Station neighbourhood, on the Koningin Astridplein.
It is literally next to the Antwerp Zoo and the Diamond neighbourhood.
When you exit the Central Station of Antwerp, you walk along the De Keyzerlei and you arrive at the Meir.
There's plenty of choice to eat a snack or to grab a coffee on the go, but if you have to wait a bit longer for your train, I recommend to visit 'Le Royal Cafe'.
This grand cafe brings you right back to the times when people travelled by train in all luxury, like when they took the Orient Express.
Le Royal Cafe went through some changes through the years, but the decor is still magnificent!
You will be admiring the enormous golden clock on the wall, all the golden decorations and mirrors and you will be staring at the old black and white pictures of how life used to be at the Antwerp Train Station!
What's good to know, is that there's an Antwerp Tourism Office in the arrival hall of the Antwerp Train Station.
Here you can pick up your Antwerp City Card, your best friend to explore the city. Make sure you book your card in advance to give you the fastest start.
They also sell really cool souvenirs. So, when you leave Antwerp, you might want to get a nice souvenir to remember your good times in Antwerp!
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