Berlin's main station was opened in 2006, on the site of the Berlin Lehrter Bahnhof terminus, which had been operating since 1871. Built in the Neo-Renaissance style, the building was called by contemporaries a “palace among stations”. Over the train shed 617 feet (188 metres) long and 125 feet (38 metres) wide, spans a barrel vault with steel supports. At the northern end of the station an additional station was constructed to serve suburban trains – Lehrter Stadtbahnhof. After the Second World War, the Lehrter station was severely damaged, and the political division of the city put an end to the railway transport from West Berlin. The building was demolished in 1957-59, and the nearby Lehrter Stadtbahnhof in 2002.
In 1992 – after the reunification of Germany – a decision was made to build a new central station in the capital, on the site of the former Lehrter Bahnhof. As a result of a competition, a design by the Hamburg architecture firm Gerkan, Marg and Partners was chosen (later they were also to design the National Stadium in Warsaw). According to the architects' idea, the new station was to consist of five levels – the highest one on a bridge, 33 ft (10 m) above the street level, and the lowest – 49 ft (15 m) underground.
The construction of the station lasted from 1995 to 2006. The present structure is the world's largest tower railway station. The main concourse is supported by two towers of 151 ft (46 m). Photovoltaic cells are incorporated into ca. 5,906 sq. ft (1,800 sq. m) of glass roof, which makes the building a solar power station! It is 525 ft (160 m) long in the north-south axis, and 1053 ft (321 m) wide, and its total surface area is ca. 230,000 sq ft (70,000 sq m). Every day it serves 1,200 trains and about 300 thousand people – passengers and visitors to the commercial facilities located on over 51,000 sq ft (15,600 sq m).
The Berlin Hauptbahnhof was ceremonially opened by Chancellor Angela Merkel on 26 May 2006. The ceremony was marked by a multimedia presentation entitled “Symphony of Light”, using the specially illuminated structure of the station.