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It’s said that life is about the journey, not the destination. That’s never truer than when navigating the submarine-like interior of the Arts et Metiers in Paris or the red rock formations of the Radhuset metro station in Sweden. Indeed, metro stations aren’t always drab purgatories — in fact, these 10 underground terminals may even qualify as architectural marvels.
Alisher Navoi Station, Tashkent Metro in Uzbekistan Opened in 1984, the Alisher Navoi station gets its name from the famous politician, painter and mystic. It belongs to a network of Tashkent subways, built by the Soviet Union after a massive earthquake damaged a considerable portion of Uzbekistan in 1966. The grand scale of this station is classic Russian style, but its intricate detailing reflects the aesthetic of the country’s Muslim population. Look up to see three cupolas ornamented with elegant metal designs.
Arts et Metiers Station, Paris Metro in France Step inside the dream station of a 5 year old with an overactive imagination. Opened in 1904, Arts et Metiers was redesigned in 1994 by Francois Schuiten, a Belgian comic book artist. Picture boxes in portholes, gears and cogs — all contributing to the steampunk vibe and reminiscent of the interior of a brass Jules Verne submarine.
BurJuman Station, Dubai Metro in United Arab Emirates Originally named Khalid Bin Al Waleed, this station was officially retitled BurJuman in 2012 to match the above ground shopping center of the same name. It lies in proximity to the consulates of Canada, India, Egypt and the United Kingdom, and is the second busiest station of the Dubai Metro. BurJuman has a clean and sleek, almost hotel-like feel. It loosely follows a water theme, which is most apparent in the immense blue-lit chandeliers that seem to float like translucent jellyfish.
Formosa Boulevard Station, Kaohsiung Mass Rapid Transit in TaiwanFormosa Boulevard Station, a three-level underground station, is located in the Sinsing District of Kaohsiung, Taiwan. The main attraction is the Dome of Light, the largest public artwork made from pieces of colored glass. Created by Italian artist Narcissus Quagliata, this kaleidoscopic 30-meter diameter installation encompasses human life in four themes: water, earth, light and fire — think highly futuristic stained glass.
Explore some of the world’s most beautiful metro stations, beginning with the elegant Alisher Navoi station in Tashkent. // © 2014 Creative Commons user [email protected]
The steampunk submarine-like Arts et Metiers station in Paris was designed by Belgian comic book artist Francois Schuiten. // © 2014 Creative Commons user chriswaits
Jellyfish chandeliers make you feel like you’re underwater at the BurJuman station in Dubai. // © 2014 Creative Commons user [email protected]
Get hypnotized by the kaleidoscopic dome of light in Taiwan’s Formosa Boulevard Station. // © 2014 Creative Commons user kobetsai
The grand design of Komsomolskaya station in Moscow was inspired by one of Stalin’s speeches given in 1941. // © 2014 Creative Commons user arthurvd
The wavy variegated walls of O’Hare’s L Station in Chicago cushion loud noises. // © 2014 Creative Commons user riczribeiro
Exposed bedrock makes for a dramatic sight at the Radhuset metro station in Sweden. // © 2014 Creative Commons user cowb0y2000
Themes of light and water are at play in the Toledo railway station of the Metro Napoli. // © 2014 Creative Commons user nunocardoso
Epic murals depicting the history of Chile line the walls of the Universidad de Chile metro station. // © 2014 Creative Commons user taecillaa
Colossal vaulted halls and mosaics make Zoloti Vorota station a must-see in Kiev. // © 2014 Creative Commons user farflungistan
Komsomolskaya Station, Koltsevaya Line in RussiaLocated between Kurskaya and Prospekt Mira station on the Koltsevaya Line, Komsomolskaya is one of the busiest stations in Moscow. Architect Alexey Shchusev’s design is based on one of Joseph Stalin’s speeches given in 1941. The speech was meant to inspire troops during World War II and mentioned military leaders of days past, including Dmitry Donskoy and Alexander Nevsky, who both appear on mosaics around the station. The central hall is truly spectacular — underneath giant chandeliers are elegant columns that curve into the canary-yellow ceiling. The marble balustrades and ornamentation will make you feel as if you are in a baroque ballroom, rather than a rail terminal.
O’Hare Station, Chicago Transit Authority in the U.S.Designed by architecture firm Jahn, the L Station was built in 1984 and serves three tracks at the O’Hare International Airport. The wavy, variegated glass walls are backlit, giving light to the station and cushioning its loudest sounds. The escalators open into a silver wall, reminiscent of a fuselage (the main body of an aircraft), and lead into airport terminals.
Radhuset Metro Station, Stockholm Metro in SwedenOpened in 1975, the Radhuset metro station sits below its Stockholm courthouse namesake. It uses organic architecture, meaning the modern-looking overhang of reddish formations isn’t a sculpture, but actually exposed bedrock. The dramatic lighting makes you feel like you’re in a cave, or on the inside of an active volcano.
Toledo Station, Metro Napoli in ItalyVarious architects and artists have contributed their talents to the subway tubes of the Metro Napoli, and none is more dazzling than the 13th station at Toledo. Designed by the firm of Spanish architect Oscar Tusquets Blanca, Toledo railway station opened in 2012. Inspired by themes of light and water, it includes mosaics by William Kentridge and light panels by Robert Wilson. Some might say the opalescent blue of the station is evocative of a fairy grotto, or the London night sky in “Peter Pan” — either way, this surreal station is a must-see.
Universidad de Chile Metro Station, Santiago Metro in Chile You might not be a student, but if you’re taking a ride on Chile’s Santiago Metro, make sure to get off at Universidad de Chile metro station. Comparing the station to an art gallery would be an understatement. Mario Toral’s epic murals, depicting Chile’s history, sweep the walls all the way to the station ceiling. Spanning 1,200 square meters of acrylic and oil on canvas and titled “Visual Memory of a Nation,” these six panels illustrate Chile’s accomplishments as well as its past repressions and horrors. Go ahead, crane your neck to take it all in.
Zoloti Vorota Station, Kiev Metro in UkraineZoloti Vorota, which translates into “Golden Gate,” is named for its only entrance through — you guessed it — a golden gate on Volodymyrska Street. It was designed by Borys Zhezherin, Vadym Zhezherin and Mykola Zharikov, who collectively won the State Prize of Ukraine in the Field of Architecture for their work.
Opened in 1989, the station was modeled after a Kievan Rus’ temple. There are three vaulted halls with enormous chandeliers hanging between the works of mosaic on the ceiling. You can follow the history of this ancient East Slavic state by walking clockwise through the station and paying attention to the elaborate mosaics.