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Estació de França Railway Station: history and curiosities

Estació de França Railway Station

Estació de França Railway Station: history and curiosities

If you are planning a trip to Barcelona, one of the things you should include in your list of places to visit is the Estación de Francia. Don’t miss today’s blog of the Hotel Arc La Rambla to discover the history and interesting curiosities of this place. 

France Station 

Francia is the most emblematic train station in Barcelona. It is located between the neighborhoods of El Born, La Villa Olímpica and La Barcelona, right next to the Parc de la Ciutadella. Today, trains still run, although most of the rail traffic is concentrated in the stations of Sants and Sagrera. 

However, for a time it was the most important station of the Catalan capital, let’s see a little of its history.

Universal Exhibition of 1929

In old blog posts, we have already seen that the Montjuic area was the epicenter of the Universal Exhibition of 1929 and buildings such as the National Palace, where the current National Art Museum of Catalonia is located, were built.     

However, it was not the only area of the city that was transformed to host such an event. Facilities and infrastructures were built, such as the Estación de Francia.     

In 1926, the railway engineer Andreu Muntaner was commissioned to begin construction of the station, which was to link Spain and France by rail. Architects Duran Reynals and Pelagi Martínez designed the iconic noucentista-style lobby.

France Station and the 1992 Olympic Games

During the Civil War, the station was badly damaged and it was not until 1988, when RENFE (Spanish National Railway Network) decided to close it to repair the structure and prepare it for a very important event that would take place in the city: the 1992 Olympic Games. places you can not miss.

After the remodeling, the original beauty of the building was recovered: an excellent example of the modernist style of the time. The lobby and the impressive facade made of stone and marble that extends over several floors, with a large glass and wrought iron dome, were rehabilitated. In addition, the space was adapted to travelers and visitors by installing services such as cafeterias.

The Owls

France Station is also known for its owls. They are small statues distributed at the main entrance, inside and outside the building and are strategically placed to scare pigeons. Although they do not fulfill their function, the owls have become a tourist attraction and are photographed daily by dozens of people. 

In addition to the owls, many tourists come daily to photograph the platforms that have been the setting for films and novels. Writers such as Eduardo Mendoza, Carlos Ruiz Zafón or Carmen Laforet have set their books there and films such as Quiéreme, Las maletas or Biutiful have been shot there. 

The Estación de Francia and its surroundings 

The station has several restaurants and bars where you can enjoy the delicious local food and wine. There are also souvenir stores and newspaper kiosks where you can buy souvenirs of your trip.

In addition, the France station is located in a central area of the city and very close to the Hotel Arc La Rambla, making it an ideal place to start exploring the surrounding area. 

Just a few steps away you will find the Parc de la Ciutadella, the Born Center of Culture and Memory or the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar are some of the places you can not miss.