Keleti Railway Station

Budapest, Hungary | C.1884

Photo Credit: Abdullah Çetinkaya

Designed by a Hungarian architect, adorned in frescoes by a German painter, with statues of a British engineer and Scottish inventor, the Keleti Railway Station is as eclectic as it is internationally influenced. Built in 1884 after a tenuous development process, the Station is the main international and inter-city rail terminal in Budapest.

In 1868, the city of Budapest was in the throes of unprecedented civic development. As the population continued to grow and traffic increased, the government called for a central railway station. It took three years for the national assembly to even consider the station proposal, and after it was approved, an economic downturn still delayed the Station’s construction until 1881.

The Station’s architect, Gyula Rochlitz, found his inspiration from visits to many metropolitan railway stations during his travels through Europe. Along with its impressive size, the Station is noted for its artistic beauty, with paintings by Hungarian painter Mór Than, frescoes by German native Károly Lotz (seen here), and a facade boasting statues of Scottish inventor James Watt and British engineer George Stephenson, known as the Father of Railways.

Although its handsome facade and novel electric lights dazzled visitors, the Station opened without fanfare. The Station didn’t hold a grand opening ceremony and instead, on August 16, 1884, the first train simply left the station and headed northeast to Miskolc. This pragmatic inaugural departure propelled the Station forward into a future of reliable transport.

After WW2, the Station underwent significant restoration as its halls & arrival bays had been left in ruins. Decades of expansion has resulted in a modernized railway station that honors its harried past. Today, the Keleti Railway Station is the busiest transportation hub in Hungary serving 410 trains each day.

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