The Toledo Train Station – Or Where Time Stands Still

The Toledo Train Station – Or Where Time Stands Still

with 16 Comments

 

Train stations. A passage. People come, people go. I never liked train stations when I was a kid. Crowded places, random faces, pickpockets, always gusty, too windy in winter, too sticky in summer, these huge halls used to make me feel uncomfortable.

 

I started to rush through them when we moved to Paris. The Gare de l’Est, Gare de Lyon, Gare Montparnasse, Gare d’Austerlitz, Gare Saint-Lazare and Gare du Nord: all of them packed in a grandiose and highly decorated 19th century facade. Splendid! Except that we always hurried through a metro entrance inside the train stations. Not a glimpse at the architecture. Both the interest and curiosity were existent, but I never took the time to pay attention to the details. Train stations: nothing more than a passage…

 

And then, last month, we traveled from Atocha station in Madrid to Toledo. With its 4000 square meter tropical garden in the concourse, the Atocha station certainly emanates serenity and coolness. But it didn’t fascinate me as much as the little train station in Toledo.

 

Train station in Toledo, Spain © Travelwithmk.com

 

I dozed off as soon as the train left Madrid. When I awoke, miles and miles of green and ochre lands glided before my eyes. The train slowed down, as if it wanted to accommodate with my state of mind. Kerstin gave me a gentle smile. We were approaching Toledo.

 

The entrance to a place always matters to me. It’s the first thing you see. The first space that welcomes you into a whole new universe. To infinite expectations of an area you’re so eager to explore. When the train’s doors opened, we were greeted by a warm and gentle breeze. And there it stood: the marvelous Neo-Mudéjar monument. A brilliant gate and introduction to Toledo, the “City of the Three Cultures”.

Inaugurated on 24 April 1919, the Toledo station was built by Narciso Clavería y Palacios to replace the 1858 construction. It might seem natural today that the architect chose a style that echoes the Mudéjar architecture of the city. But back in 1919, this decision caused a great deal of controversy and polemic. Most train stations then had a sober, functional, and industrial design. Why build a new railway station with such details? People wondered. And why add a clock tower that looks like a minaret?

 

Train station, Toledo, Spain © Travelwithmk.com

 

 

Perhaps it was the sun shimmering through the stained glasses that made me pause in the passenger hall. But I just couldn’t take my eyes off the polylobate horseshoe-shaped arches, which extend the five highly ornamented doorways in the central pavilion. I was awestruck.

 

Fighting off the feeling that there was a whole city waiting to be explored, we nevertheless took the time to gaze at the architectural details. The old ticket office in dark wood, with its three booths separated by ornamental wrought iron railings, created by the master smith Julio Pascual, took us back in time. Whereas the colorful mosaic tiles, and the coffered ceilings, designed by the Toledan ceramist Angel Pedroza, are elements that one would normally expect to see in a royal palace or a museum.

 

The sunlight invited us to walk out, and all the other passengers were already gone, leaving the two of us in the now empty vestibule. But each and every feature of this little train station was begging to be marveled at and treasured. And then, there was no rush. For once.

 

 

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The Toledo Train Station in Spain, or when time stands still © Travelwithmk.com

Follow Mei:

Traveler - Storyteller

30-something Archaeologist, born and raised in Luxembourg. She loves eating stinky cheese and raw food, listening to Kerstin's stories while driving on long road trips, and capturing their journeys with her iPhone, and then delete half of the photos. She speaks 7 languages, and wishes she had time to pick up Ancient Greek. She's afraid of heights, but adores panoramic views. Her favorite places are those she chose to live in: Paris, Greece, San Francisco.

16 Responses

  1. Holly
    | Reply

    Never heard of it or been. Looks beautiful. Would love to see it myself.

  2. Reshma
    | Reply

    Wow! This is too gorgeous a place for a train station. Had you not mentioned it, I would have easily taken it for a castle or an ancient museum! Toledo itself has so much to offer, and now I know it starts right from the train station itself!

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      It’s funny that you say that. As we entered into the train station, I also thought it was part of a castle or the city’s fortifications. 🙂

  3. loisaltermark
    | Reply

    I find train stations so fascinating and often so beautiful. I would love to see this one in person. It looks magical.

  4. lostnotfoundfood
    | Reply

    Wow now this is a train station. It is fantastic! I never thought much about train stations until visiting Europe. They leave a lot to be desired here in the US in so many ways!

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Honestly, I’ve never been in a train station in the US. We always fly or drive over there. But apparently the Grand Central Station in NYC is pretty awesome!

  5. Tamara Elliott
    | Reply

    I love European train stations! You’re right, they always seem to be so grand 🙂

  6. SherianneKay
    | Reply

    I tend to notice how beautiful stations are but never stop to explore them. I blame luggage. I have a hard enough time exploring and maneuvering all my ‘stuff’ when i don’t have luggage, luggage pushes me over the top!

  7. I have to say, I’ve been to so many train stations around the world but I’ve never just stopped to admire any of them. This one looks beautiful 😀

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      There are actually many train stations with stunning architecture, but it’s true that we tend to forget to look up when we run through these buildings to catch a train. Since Toledo, I always try to make time to look and marvel at the train stations wherever we travel too. 🙂

  8. Adelina
    | Reply

    What a gorgeous train station! Definitely more than just a place to get on a train. I wish I had carved out some time to visit Toledo when I was in Spain.

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Yes, I’m so glad we finally decided to return to Toledo by train. For a moment, we wanted to go there by car and would’ve missed this beautiful gem then!

  9. Fiona Maclean
    | Reply

    I love Toledo – but I’ve only ever driven there so I’ve never seen the train station. Hopefully next time I’ll make the effort to visit now!

  10. Karla
    | Reply

    Wow, we wanted to go to Toledo this trip but we didn’t get to go. But the train station itself, wow, that is impressive.

  11. Thanks for your impressions. Toledo train station is one of the most beautiful train stations I have ever seen.

  12. Scribbling Geek
    | Reply

    It’s as lovely as a palace.

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