As much an architectural treasure as it is a train station, Barcelona’s França Railway Station is well worth a visit, if only to marvel at its design. The structure, originally built in 1854, has been renovated twice: once for the 1929 International Exposition, which was hosted by Barcelona, once in 1988, ahead of the 1992 Olympic Games.
França is the second busiest railway station in the city, but it’s regarded as the most beautiful. When the lobby of the station was redesigned in the 1920s, architects incorporated the classical noucentista style and added marble, bronze, and crystal decor, as well as a curved glass and metal canopy that stretches over the station’s 12 tracks.
Visit the station on an architecture-focused walking tour that stops at França as well as spots like the Gothic Quarter and cast-iron marketplace in El Born. You can also take a tour to sights that have been important in the history of the Catalan independence movement. Alternatively, opt for an organized treasure hunt, which will take you to sights around the city (including the train station).
Things to Know Before You Go
- França is a stop on many regional and national trains and connects Barcelona to other Spanish cities such as Alicante and Valencia.
- The train station is a nice place to escape the city’s summer heat; the interior is cool but you can still enjoy the sunlight streaming through the glass-domed ceiling.
- There are no shops or restaurants inside the station, but there are many located on the same street.
- The station does offer public bathrooms, a taxi stand, and a parking lot.
- The station and its services are accessible for people with disabilities.
How to Get There
To reach França, via public transportation, take the metro to the Barceloneta station, located just a short walk from. The Aerobús A1 also has a stop right outside the station.
When to Get There
The ticket office opens in the early hours of the morning, and trains begin to run around 5 a.m. If you’re an early bird, visit the station when it opens, to admire the architecture while it’s peaceful and quiet.
In the Details
Modernism was a prominent design style in Barcelona throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The França Railway Station, however, was built in the noucentisme style, which was a cultural and artistic reaction to modernism. The station is divided into two sections: the lobby and the train shed. The lobby, designed by Spanish architect Raimon Duran i Reynals, features a sleek corridor with a towering dome.