Antwerpen-Centraal - Belgium

Antwerpen-Centraal is the main railway station in Antwerp, operated by Belgian SNCB rail (Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Belges).

 

The building was constructed in 1895 – 1905 as a new terminus for the railway line from Brussels. It replaced the wooden railway station built in 1854 by Auguste Lambeau. The new structure of clad stone, with an impressive dome over the waiting room hall, was designed by Louis Delacenserie. The iron and glass vault over the platforms, almost 606 feet (185 metres) long and 144 feet (44 metres) high, was designed by Clement van Bogaert, and the viaduct by local architect Jan van Asperen. The interior is richly ornamented with over 20 kinds of marble and stone, and the main hall and the café resemble palace rooms.

The redecoration of the building started in 1998. A new tunnel was dug to join the station with Berchem in the north, and Antwerpen-Dam in the south. As a result, fast trains such as Thalys or those on the lines HSL 4 and HSL-Zuid can pass through the station with no need to turn back later. The modernisation was completed in March 2007, and its cost oscillated around 1.6 billion euro.

 

Presently the station has four levels with 14 tracks:

• level 1 (the original one) – consisting of 6 tracks, divided in the middle by stairs to the lower storeys;

• level 0 – with ticket windows and a shopping centre;

• level -1 – situated 23 ft (7 m) below the street, with 4 tracks in two pairs;

• level -2 – situated 59 ft (18 m) below the street, with 4 fast train tracks, passing through a tunnel under the city.

In 2009, the American magazine Newsweek mentioned the Antwerp station as the world's fourth greatest railway station. Nowadays, this historic building, often referred to as the “Railway Cathedral”, is one of Antwerp's main tourist attractions.

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© Całość praw autorskich - Antoni Bochen, Filip Wiśniewski