Milan’s monumental Central Station (Stazione Centrale) is one of Europe’s largest railway stations. It was constructed between 1912 and 1931 after a design by Ulisse Stacchini who created the head building based on the monumental baths in imperial Rome.
In 1906 Milan’s central station built in 1864 in Art Nouveau style at the current Piazza della Repubblica was deemed too small and modest so local authorities launched a competition for the design of a new, grander railway terminal. A neoclassical design by Arrigo Cantoni was selected as the winning entry. However, by 1912 the design was considered too conventional and new competition was held at which Ulisse Stacchini won.
Inspired by Baths of Caracalla in Rome Stacchini’s design was altered during the long construction period during which the dictator Mussolini had grabbed power and influenced the initial design. The end result was more monumental than the original one with its muscular sculptures.
The stone façade of the structure is 207 meters long and topped with statues of winged horses. The walls are decorated with sculpture groups, pilasters, medallions and reliefs depicting figures in Roman garb. Five large metal and glass sheds, increasing in size towards the center cover the tracks of the station. Lunettes below the shed’s arches decorate the walls of the head station.
While many other cities in Italy built modern functional train stations after the Second World War, Milan has kept its monumental station intact. It is nonetheless one of the country’s most successful, not only as an architectural monument, but also as an efficient railway station. Multiple wide entrances connecting the station to the Piazzale Duca d’Aosta in front of the building and to the neighboring streets ensure a smooth people flow. Inside the station are plenty of shops and eateries spread over several levels.