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The old railway station in Lagos, Portugal
Photograph: Shanti Hesse /

10 spectacular abandoned train stations you must visit

There are some truly spectacular abandoned train stations all over the globe, and we’ve compiled the most beautiful right here

John Bills
Written by
John Bills

The most influential mode of transport ever conceived? The humble railway allowed nations to develop, industries to be built and much more, and its influence cannot be overstated. Although air travel and private vehicles may have overtaken the humble train, the world is still filled with gorgeous railway journeys. And, of course, you can’t have a railway journey without a train station.

And the most spectacular train stations around the world are arguably the abandoned ones – they carry a haunting grace that is difficult to place. Who knew that neglect could be so aesthetically stunning? Memory has a lot to do with it, of course. Abandoned architecture has become quite the photogenic phenomenon, and these stations are right at the top of the table.

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Spectacular abandoned train stations around the world

1. Canfranc International Railway Station, Spain

Way up in the Spanish Pyrenees lies the hushed memories of Canfranc International Railway Station, a grand station that opened way back in 1928 amid a swelling of Spanish pride and determination. The Spanish wanted a grand border station to show the French what they were capable of, you see, and this was the result. However, the station was seemingly cursed from the get-go, suffering from fires, smuggling and all the rest before succumbing to the winds of time and change in 1970. Since then, it has become a traveller hotspot, with more people visiting the station between 2013 and 2017 than ever used it during its years of activity. Work is also under way for it to become a hotel – so you’ll soon be able to soak up its beauty overnight.

2. City Hall Subway, New York

First things first, don’t be surprised to bump into Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo and Raphael down here; the abandoned City Hall Subway in New York was the inspiration for the famous HQ in which Splinter and co made plans and ate pizza. Anyway, is a station truly abandoned if it is a popular attraction with frequent tours and an iconic chandelier? Maybe so, maybe not, but there certainly aren’t any trains running through New York’s City Hall Subway anymore, and there haven’t been since 1946. The most beautiful former station on the planet? It could well be.


3. Vyšehrad, Prague

Beautiful buildings are ubiquitous in Prague, and every corner of the city shimmers with Art Noveau majesty. The neglected beauties often go overlooked as a result and the abandoned train station at Vyšehrad is right at the front of this queue. It is easy to imagine how magnificent the building was before time did a number on the place. The last train left the station in 2002, and it has been neglected ever since, although a growing interest in abandoned structures has seen Vyšehrad get a little bit of attention in recent times. 

4. Lagos Old Railway Station, Portugal

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that the Algarve is all sunburnt tourists, and nothing else. There is plenty of history and culture here, and the derelict old railway station in Lagos gives a curious insight into a time long gone in these parts. The lattice facade is gorgeous, and the mosaic tiles are a joyous celebration of old techniques and the eternal wonder of colour. Sure, there’s a new shiny station not so far away, but the old one still attracts no shortage of visitors. 


5. Jersey City Terminal, USA

The increase in private vehicles brought the Jersey City rail’s days to a close in 1967, but a Richardsonian Romanesque redbrick beauty like this doesn’t just slink off into the night unnoticed. Far from it, as the terminal building has become a popular place for movies and TV shoots, romantic escapades and all the rest. The nineteenth-century structure stands out in the confines of Liberty State Park.

6. Gudauta Station, Abkhazia

It has been a tumultuous modern period for Abkhazia, a disputed territory in the Caucasus, but lovers of abandoned train stations have been heading here for years in search of this charmer. It isn’t exactly hard to find, being in a darling Black Sea town of 10,000 people, and the grand exterior of its train station is only the beginning. The main hall is a stunner, albeit a stunner ravished by time.


7. Psyrtskha Station, Abkhazia

Sticking with Abkhazia for a moment, abandoned railway stations don’t come much more beautiful than the one found at Psyrtskha. Located in a town called Akhali Atoni (some 22km or so from Sukhumi), Psyrtskha is small but perfectly formed (in a decaying sort of way), with old Soviet touches and surroundings that are dominated by thick greenery. Trains still head into the tunnel next to the station, but no locomotive has stopped at Psyrtskha in a very long time. 

8. Michigan Central Station, USA

An absolute stunner, architecturally speaking, Michigan Central Station ceased operations in 1988. That said, it remains an aesthetically pleasing structure in Detroit, one that has featured in several movies and music videos since its doors were shut on a cold January day. The main waiting room was actually modelled on an ancient Roman bathhouse, all marble walls and vaulted ceilings, while the ten platforms contained all manner of curious flourishes. Ford bought the building back in 2018 and has plans to renovate it. Watch this space. 


9. Garub Station, Namibia

It is hard to believe that trains ever passed through the desert wilderness that is Garub – but rest assured, they did. This inhospitable stretch of land and sandstorms used to see industrial trains trundling through Namibia, exporting the country's natural wealth to the rest of the world. The red water tanks of Garub make it more photogenic than most, although getting out here takes some doing. Watch out for the feral horses too.

10. Anhalter Bahnhof, Berlin

Berlin’s Anhalter Bahnhof had a solid century of service before it was closed at the beginning of the Cold War. Much of the station (opened in 1841) was subsequently destroyed, but public outcry ensured that one of the façades remained, itself a curious monument to the ideology-centric architectural destruction of the twentieth century. 

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