Central Station Building

Piazza Duca d'Aosta,16. (Open Map)


Imposing, outstanding, monumental…. All sorts of adjectives can be applied to Milan’s Central Station, except for “unnoticeable”. Travellers immediately realize this when they arrive, welcomed by the vast canopy reaching a height of 72 metres. Those outside are equally struck by the gigantic façade in Art Nouveau and Art Deco style.
The building is a study in daring engineering, in which the monumental forms recall Ancient Roman architecture.
Outside, the structure has a central projecting bay, cadenced by large openings, and decorated above by sculptural groups. Behind and parallel to the façade runs the "Galleria delle Carrozze" (literally the “carriage gallery”).
The station is by nature a location for rapid transit, but in this case it is worth pausing for a moment, looking upwards to the great steel arches, or exploring the building to discover the architectural fascination of this monument.
Milan’s Central Station is one of the largest stations in Europe in terms of numbers of passengers. It was built in 1931, in order to replace the old 1864 station which had become too small to handle the increase in rail traffic after the Simplon tunnel was opened in 1906.
The foundation stone was laid by Vittorio Emanuele III in 1906, but as a result of the economic crisis that afflicted the country before and after the First World War, the building began to reach completion only towards 1925. The station was designed by architect Ulisse Stacchini, who drew up the plans in 1912, inspired by the Union Station in Washington. When it was built, it was considered as a record-breaking structure, with its 200-metre-long façade and its height of 70 metres.
Today, important restoration and improvement work has been completed, making it even more convenient for travellers. It has 24 platforms in operations. Visitors can see the waiting room originally reserved for the Savoia family at platform 21, by visiting the “Sala Reale”, royal hall.
The central station was inaugurated in February 1864 by the French engineer Bouchot; it was initially called station Porta Principe Umberto and stood where Piazza della Repubblica is now. Once considered the most important station in Italy, it was demolished in 1931.
The span of the main arch is 72 meters high and is the largest made in Italy, the canopies are 341 metres long covering an area of 66,500 square metres.
Between platform 21 and the royal waiting room there is a plaque with a epithet written in red on gray stone which declares: ".. from the vaults of this station, between December 1943 and May1944, began the long journey of Jewish men, women, children and political opponents deported to Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps ... "plus a phrase by Primo Levi.
The interior decor of the station was created by important names such as Giannino Castiglioni, Alberto Bazzoni and Basilio Cascella. The project is the work of Ulisse Stacchini following in the German tradition that inspired railway buildings at that time.