Known as the ‘Titanic of the Mountains’, Spain’s Canfranc Station has had more than its fair share of bad luck over its 100-year history. With 365 windows and a massive 200-metre-long platform, the grand old station in the Pyrenees took a whopping 75 years to finish building, opening in 1928 – just in time for the financial crash – before being damaged by a fire a few short years later.
Struggling on through the Spanish Civil War, the Second World War and Spain’s Franco dictatorship, the imposing building finally closed its doors in 1970, left to become a decaying monument to the area’s failed ambitions.
But now, more than 50 years after the site was abandoned, it would seem that Canfranc Station’s luck is finally turning, with plans currently underway to turn it into a five-star hotel.
With a €12 million contribution from the government of Aragón for the train tracks and development of the surrounding area, Spanish hotel chain Barceló has commissioned a €27 million refurbishment of the Wes Anderson-esque building. It will be transformed into a 140-bedroom complex featuring a railway museum, a 200-seat conference centre, shops and even a refuge for pilgrims en route to Santiago de Compostela. Designed by architects Joaquín Magrazó and Fernando Used, the development will retain the original facade of the station, with a new station built behind it that will be accessible via the hotel vestibule.
Building work is expected to be completed by the end of 2022, with the Canfranc line projected to be fully operational by 2026 following work to reopen the Somport tunnel, which connects Spain with France.
Let’s hope that the plans might spell some long-overdue good fortune for this small village. We’ll certainly be wanting to stay there.
Big fan of railway travel? These new sleeper trains that are essentially luxury hotels on wheels.