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Railway building | © Robert Deopito
A Big Train Station
Arriving in Salzburg is always a wonderful moment. And since 2015, first setting foot in the city at the train station might well be the most beautiful way to get your visit underway. After completion of a brilliant remodeling project, the station is probably well worth a trip in its own right.
First they tinkered around with the station for a few years, but then, for seven years – from 2008 until 2014 – they embarked on an ambitious project to restore, remodel and expand the complex in multiple stages. The old railhead was transformed step-by-step into one of the most modern through-stations in Austria – no small achievement, especially since busy passenger service carried on unabated; equating to around 500 trains and 25,000 passengers every single day.
Symbiosis with Flair
Rail customers took the construction work in stride, and today are able to enjoy what has proven to be a successful symbiosis of historical and highly modern architecture. The painstakingly restored old steel roof structure above the platforms melds symbiotically with the airy, wing-like roof design created by kadawittfeldarchitektur. Every bit as harmonious is the combination between the revitalized art nouveau entrance hall and the modern passageways, which provide barrier-free egress to the city on three sides – Rainerstrasse and downtown, Südtiroler Platz right outside the main entrance, and Schallmoos.
The last of these, a bright walkway leading to an area of the city located at the back of the train station, has quickly blossomed into a real favorite with the locals: not only because of the bold roof which floats effortlessly above the new entrance, but also because the project created a major amenity and hub for Salzburg’s considerable cycling community: a modern Bike & Ride station for 600 bicycles.
This successful nexus of historical substance and modern architecture has already earned several awards, including the National Design Prize. Cafés and bakeries, a bookstore and flower shop are already attractive complements to the new station. And right next to the main hall, Restaurant Johann treats diners to a delicious selection of popular home-style dishes.
As the icing on the cake, so to speak, the Südtiroler Platz – which is the plaza right in front of the main entrance – is also scheduled for a major facelift in 2017 – including a “Kiss & Ride” zone, a new fountain, modern bike racks and regular cultural events. The “Take the A-Train” festival in mid-September is already well established, its goal being to playfully break down traditional musical boundaries – including everything from exquisite jazz and World Music, to swing, brass and more.
Empress “Sisi” in Salzburg
Here at the station, as is so often the case with Salzburg in general, even today you feel as if you are walking right in the footsteps of larger-than-life historical figures; in one particular instance, those elegant steps belong to a member of the former Austrian royal family. Salzburg Main Station was opened in 1860, originally a border station on the Empress Elisabeth Line: Also known as the “West Line”, it ran from the capital of the Habsburg empire in Vienna, via Linz and Salzburg to Bavaria. Rail travel back in those days was quite the chic affair, reflected in an array of appropriately upscale hotels and restaurants located in the immediate vicinity of the station. Of these, probably the most notable is the sophisticated Hôtel de l’Europe, which was built just five years after the station itself in the midst of handsome gardens. Good reason, then, why the part of town which surrounds the station is also known as the Elisabeth District. A statue of the famous, and beloved Empress “Sisi” again stands (since 2002) in front of the new Hotel Europa, an ever-present reminder of Salzburg’s illustrious connections.