Tube. Metro. Subway. However it’s called, underground transportation it’s very useful for people living in big cities: no traffic, high speed, no fights for a parking lot. The problem is that usually metro stations are seen as mere crossing points. Often associated with decay and dirt. Except when the station itself is filled with art and arranged like a gallery. A place that diverts us from our routine. Forces us to slow down and to appreciate the joy of wandering, admiring and letting our imagination flow. From Paris to Shanghai, crossing Naples and New York: here is a guide to the 10 most beautiful metro stations in the world. According to The Italian Eye.
The Toledo Metro Station in Naples, Italy
Taking the underground in Naples could make you feel like diving into the ocean. A multitude of dots are scattered within the Toledo station, in San Giuseppe neighborhood, and they create a mosaic of different shades of blue, just like the sea waves. The station opened in 2012 and was designed by architect Oscar Tusquets. The Daily Telegraph named it “the most beautiful metro station in Europe”, and in 2013 it received the Emirates Leaf International prize as “public building of the year”.
The Bund Sightseeing Tunnel in Shangai, China
From one side to the other of its 647 mt, the tunnel offers a unique ride. It’s a major attraction in Shanghai, as it transports its passengers under the Huangpu river in an automated car with audio-visual psychedelic effects. The beams of lights, the electric illuminations and the audio recordings create an atmosphere that comes close to an art installation.
The Moscow Metro in Russia
Opened in 1935, the Moscow Metro is the fifth in the world for number of daily passengers. A large amount of Russians is therefore reminded of its heritage while taking the metro everyday. Gilded walls, paintings and chandeliers embellishes the stations of Kievskaya, Mayakovskaya and Park Pobedy, in pure Soviet style.
The Budapest metro in Szent Gellert Square
Entering the underground in Budapest is like stepping inside a foreign galaxy. Its futuristic and innovative walls are made out of tiles, creating a giant hypnotic twirl. Artist Tamás Komoróczky was commissioned to design the mosaic interior decoration of the inner platform below the University of Technology and Economics.
The underground in Almaty, Kazakhstan
Almaty’s has recently gotten its first underground transportation after 23 years of hard work, so it had to be marvelous. Its walls and floors are covered in marbles and artworks, while inhabitants strive to keep it as clean as possible. It’s more than a simple mean of transportation, it is for Kazakhstan the proof that the country is moving forward. The final project vaunts 45 km of tunnel beyond the whole city.
The ghost stations in Paris, France
It’s only a project for now, but quite an ambitious and magical one. Paris wants to turn its ghost stations into night clubs, swimming pools and winter gardens. Parisians will be able to use those spaces in order to enjoy themselves and appreciate nature even when the sky is grey or if it’s raining outside. Another dab of romanticism into the city of Love, another reason to travel to Paris.
The abandoned City Hall station in New York
New York’s subway transportation is one of the oldest in the world. Many stations where built during its century of existence, but some of them were also abandoned as time went by. The old City Hall station is made out of red bricks and cream tiles, which contrast with the blue glass of the mezzanine’s skylight. It’s a beautiful architectural site filled with a heavy past; commuters are able to admire it as they ride the 6 train from Pelham Bay Park to Brooklyn Bridge.
The Stockholm subway in Sweden
This subway system is comprised of 90 decorated stations out of a 100. Meaning that catching the metro in Stockholm is a like running through an art gallery filled with paintings, mosaics, sculptures and engravings made by over 150 artists, local and international, starting from the Fifties.
The Olaias Station in Lisbon, Portugal
Portugal is known for its superb tiles, the Azulejos (find more about them here). To keep the traditions alive, architect Tomás Taveira set a lively tone in the Olaias station in Lisbon’s underground. The walls are covered with geometrical bright colorful tiles juxtaposed with metallic columns, while art installations were created by Pedro Cabrita Reis, Graça Pereira Coutinho, Pedro Calapez and Rui Sanchez.
The Atocha railway station in Madrid, Spain
This station is actually a railway station. Welcoming thousands of commuters daily, it is Madrid’s largest station. It has a wide open area and a giant botanical garden stands in its center. It is a healthy breathing area, where travelers can relax, enjoy and wait around whilst rejuvenating near the tropical flora.