Century-Old Canfranc Railway Station Transformed into a Gorgeous Five Star Hotel
Spain is a country with a very storied history, and should you happen to visit the country for some well-deserved time off, you’ll find many historical sites worthy of a detour.
As of February, however, one such spectacle can be stayed in and explored to your heart’s content. Stored comfortably between the vast mountains bordering Spain and France is a little getaway few have heard of but has stood the test of time longer than most of us ever have.
A train station, a trading hub, a Nazi spy and refugee transport, a five-star hotel; Spain’s Canfranc Estacion has been all these things and survived through nearly a century with its architecture untainted. After being forgotten for a good fifty years, it was sold in 2013, where plans to turn it into a hotel were soon underway. After much anticipation, the station has finally reopened to the public, boasting a hundred four rooms and three hundred sixty-five windows, it offers fine service, comfy beds, and a look back in time.
A Rich Past
Opened back in 1928, Canfranc International Railway Station was the second largest train station in the world, just behind Grand Central Terminal in the United States. The hub was created from an agreement between the governments of Spain and France, the latter of which is only a stone’s throw away. The purpose was to help boost trade and act as the third border crossing between the neighbors, but the station’s value hiked vastly come the second world war.
The main use for the railway became moving food and supplies to Nazi Germany. There were spies of the party traveled back and forth in attempts to catch Jews, revolutionaries, and British Military. There are even stories of smuggled Nazi gold.
Once the war was over, the station got its second wind and returned to normalcy. The daunting task of building the station, along with the massive amount of expenses it accrued, proved to be for naught, as the station closed in 1970. There it sat for the next half a century until it was finally picked up and rebuilt, a talk that is ambitious even today. Today the station has been given a new lease on life, with the interest rate being paid for by the hundreds coming in to marvel at its structure every day. Its sights are beautiful, but as of now, its utility remains only as a hotel. Despite still being referred to as a “station” (hence “Estacion”), its past as a trading hub and border-crossing was laid to rest. Now, it’s rebranded as a tourist attraction and hotel.
The Sights of Today
With the leap back through history over and done with, we bring you back to the present. What does the structure hold now after fifty years of stagnation? Well, for one, the station is still quite a sight to behold. Despite being located in Spain, the exterior architecture of the Canfranc is an eclectic, Beaux-Arts touch, one that could only be inspired by the spatial design popularized by the French. You’ll often see visitors coming to check out the building while dressed in skiing attire, as the Candanchu Ski Resort is a very short ride away. The undisturbed rolling hills and vast mountains that border Canfranc Estacion are a view unlike any other, and with the hotel boasting hundreds of windows, every inch of landscape is wide-open and welcoming your gaze. Getting to the hotel itself will be a bit of an endeavor.
The town it presides over, Canfranc, is a small village that might be a tad hard to find, as it contains a population of less than six hundred despite the looming historical landmark that people find to fascinating. The building stands an astounding 3,280ft (about 1,000m) above sea level, tucked away in a valley in mountainous terrain, so you’ll find the air to be as crisp as it is cold. Remember to bring a coat!
On top of this are the classic commodities you’d find at any luxurious hotel. The rooms are spacious, and the staff are accommodating. Exploring might take a while given the place’s size, but it will be worth it once you find a vast spa, lovely restaurants to indulge in, and a quiet little cocktail bar one can lounge in and enjoy a couple drinks.
What once was a station to help move goods and people has now been refitted to allow people to enjoy the country while glimpsing into its rich history. If you’re ever in the area on your honeymoon or a getaway with the family, Canfranc Estacion is worth the detour.