Prague’s main railway station (Praha hlavni nadrazi) is a real eye-catcher. Even if you don’t really notice it directly, when coming from the city centre. When you reach the station area from the Old Town, a wide belt of parkland (popularly known as Sherwood) stretches out in front of you and behind it the brutalist new station concourse from the 1970s, behind which the historic front seems to be half hidden. However, if you turn sideways from Wenceslas Square onto Wilsonova Street, you can immediately see the magnificent historic station building.
Architectural history of the railway station
In the early 20th century, it replaced the “Prague Emperor Franz Joseph Railway Station” built in 1871. The Secession-style architecture was realised by Czech architect Josef Fanta between 1901 and 1909. The symmetrical building impresses above all with its playful Art Nouveau figures and details, as well as the grandiose semi-circular ticket hall behind the central main portal. The main portal is flanked by two sandstone towers reminiscent of Egyptian pylons. A partially gilded impeller is emblazoned on the head building on the right of the panorama as a symbol of the railway. The sculptures on the building were created by Stanislav Sucharda, who was also responsible for the figures on the “Grandhotel Europa”, and Ladislav Šaloun.
Between the world wars, the railway station was also known as Wilson-Station, named after the American president whose name the street in front of the main station still bears today: Wilsonova. The building has been renovated by the Italian company Grandi Stazioni since 2006, but this contract was cancelled a few years ago and the renovation is almost completed here in 2022. Behind the main building there is also a historic double-aisled platform hall, which has also been renovated.
Prague is one of the railway hubs in Central Europe with connections from Hamburg to Bulgaria and from Belarus to Zurich.