Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Hauptbahnhof

The central train station of Berlin, The "Hauptbahnhof", is without doubt a great example of modern architecture; self-sustaining and efficient. The Hauptbahnhof is the biggest central train station in Europe with a total of 70,000 square meters spread over 5 floors. It cost a total of 900 million euros and was opened just before the 2006 World Cup which was hosted in Germany. 

It's incredible when you arrive at the station, whether by train, metro or through the front doors, how this modern building overwhelms the senses in a labyrinth of escalators, walkways and open spaces. In fact, it seems more like a colossal greenhouse than a train station. Spread over three of the five floors are shops, pharmacies, bakeries, restaurants and much more so there are many things to do whilst you wait for your connection. You can do a bit of shopping, eat a snack, have a beer, buy a delicious ice cream or even purchase a Berlin souvenir!  

It's location, next to the river Spree and in the heart of Berlin, offers great connections to all parts of the city, Germany, and the rest of Europe. Being the central station, it is a great starting point to visit all the main sights of the city and there are many places within walking distance and, of course, a short train ride away.  

The design complies with the highest self-sustaining architectual standards. Through renewable energy systems including solar panels, around 50% of the total energy consumed in the station is generated. The design of the building also features glass roofs which optimises the use of natural light. All in all it is a great example of how functional public buildings can be designed with ecological issues in mind.      

I recommend the novelty of using the shortest metro line in Berlin and certainly the shortest I've ever used. The line in question is the U55 which connects the Hauptbahnhof to the Brandenburg Tor. It was originally meant to form part of an extension to the U5 line but was delayed because of funding. In total there are only three stations but it is a very pleasant ride. In fact the platforms are mini-museums because there are many photos along the walls which document some historic moments that have taken place there.    

With around 1,800 trains calling at the station per day and the daily number of passengers estimated to be at 350,000, it's easy to get lost in this vast space, especially if you are not a regular visitor. 

Once I got my bearings, I thoroughly enjoyed taking in the scale and sights of the Hauptbahnhof and I recommend that tourists try and plan their Berlin trip so they get at least get a peek at this modern wonder.    

To check schedules visit the Deutsche Bahn website (in German but with an option to view the site in English)


  1. Nice article! I really enjoyed it. Looking forward to a trip to Berlin now!