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Antwerp, Belgium, Historical Architecture

The Historic Architecture of the Antwerp Central Railway Station

Widely considered the finest and most beautiful railway station in the world, the Antwerp Central Railway station has reigned supreme since 1905. The original construction occurred between 1895 and 1905 as a replacement for the original terminal building. Louis Delacenserie designed the stone class terminal with a vast regal dome over the main waiting area.

Louis Delacenserie was a Belgian architect from Bruges. His father was a merchant and building contractor from Tournai. At the pinnacle of his career, Delacenserie made use of a rather eclectic Neo-Renaissance style for the station, which reflected the economic and artistic theme of the city in the 16th century. Some aspects of the station, like the use of colors and materials, were clearly influenced by art nouveau architecture.

During World War II, the station suffered damage to the train hall by German V2 flying bombs without destroying the structural viability of the building. The impact of the bombing can still be seen today in a lasting wave-distortion in the roofing of  the main hall.  By the mid-twentieth century, the building had deteriorated far enough where there was serious consideration for demolition. Ultimately, the decision was made to save her and a major restoration was undertaken.  This was completed in 1986. In 1998, a large-scale reconstruction project began to adapt the grand station from a terminus to a through station and to accommodate high-speed rail. This project was completed in 2007 and the grand station was awarded a Grand Prix at the European Union Prize for Culture Heritage/Europa Nostra Award in 2011.

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Antwerp Central Railway station is a ‘must-see’ if you are traveling anywhere in Europe. The style and design of this elegant building is a classic and is so rarely seen anywhere in the world. It reflects the vision and elegance of the times in Western Europe. With proper care and attention to the great value of the structure, it is hoped that caretakers can properly preserve her for future generations to enjoy the splendors.

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