Canfranc Estacion: Abandoned train station transformed into luxury hotel

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(CNN) — In opposition to the backdrop of the snow-capped Pyrenees mountains, deep within the Aragon valley, lies an imposing, lovely constructing. Welcome to Canfranc Station, as soon as an deserted railway station, now an opulent resort.

Canfranc Station opened as an opulent rail hub in 1928, with an inauguration ceremony attended by each the King of Spain and the President of the French Republic; the resort’s located in Spain, however not removed from the French border.

Throughout World Struggle II, Canfranc witnessed arrests, espionage and gold trafficking. By 1970, the station had closed its doorways.

The station lay dormant for many years till work started to remodel the nonetheless lovely, however lengthy uncared for, constructing right into a resort operated by the Barcelo Resort Group. After years of regeneration, Canfranc Station welcomed its first company in January 2023.

Railway and historical past buffs formally have a brand new vacation spot on their bucket listing, whereas Mayor of Canfranc Fernando Sánchez Morales says locals have greeted the opening “with enthusiasm.”

“We’re very happy to have the station alive and vivid once more,” Sánchez Morales tells CNN Journey.

New chapter

A “earlier than” {photograph} of the ticket corridor in Canfranc Station, taken in 2005.

Rob Cousins/Alamy Inventory Photograph

At the same time as a spoil, Canfranc attracted guests: Photographers flocked to the station, designed by Spanish architect Fernando Ramirez de Dampierre, eager to seize a forgotten slice of European rail historical past.

Those that discover magnificence in deserted buildings may counsel the resort was extra interesting on this eerie, dilapidated state.

However Canfranc Station additionally seems fairly spectacular post-revitalization, and is already attracting resort company.

Architect Thomas O’Hare first stumbled throughout Canfranc Station accidentally a few years in the past. When he found the deserted rail hub was set to turn into a resort, O’Hare vowed to return upon completion.

A recent photograph of the now transformed ticket hall, which acts as the hotel lobby.

A current {photograph} of the now reworked ticket corridor, which acts because the resort foyer.

Barceló Accommodations & Resorts

As we speak, O’Hare, who lives in Belfast in Northern Eire, is on trip on the resort together with his household.

“The outside may be very grand and positively gives the look of journey from a special time,” O’Hare tells CNN Journey.

The O’Hares are spending their days snowboarding in Candanchu, one of many oldest ski resorts in Spain, which neighbors the resort.

Tumultuous historical past

This picture depicts the original opening of Canfranc Station in July 1928.

This image depicts the unique opening of Canfranc Station in July 1928.

adoc-photos/Corbis/Getty Photos

On account of its border place, possession of Canfranc Station was initially shared between France and Spain. It is now owned by the native Aragon authorities in Spain, who labored on the resort regeneration course of with the Barcelo Resort Group.

Canfranc Station performed an energetic function throughout World Struggle II, bearing witness to moments of each hope and despair.

Previous to the Nazi takeover of the Canfranc municipality, the station acted because the gateway to liberty for some European Jews who had been persecuted by the German regime.

“Within the first years of the world battle, from 1940 to 1942, hundreds of Jews fled by practice from Canfranc to Lisbon and the US,” he mentioned.

Amongst those that fled by practice out of Canfranc, in keeping with Campo Fraile, had been the painters Max Ernst, who was not Jewish, and Marc Chagall. American entertainer Josephine Baker additionally transited by the station.

Spies traveled by practice from Canfranc en route to affix the anti-Nazi French Resistance and to go messages to Allied nations.

Nonetheless, the Nazis took the municipality of Canfranc in November 1942 and maintained management till June 1944.

Escape by Canfranc grew to become tougher and the station grew to become the location of many arrests.

Canfranc was the one Spanish municipality occupied by the Nazis — and the regime made its presence felt. Campo Fraile mentioned greater than 300 individuals had been arrested fleeing in direction of Lisbon in Portugal and despatched to prisons throughout Spain.

“The Germans managed the site visitors of gold [and tungsten] they usually additionally lowered the French flag.”

Rumors of Nazi gold trafficking by Canfranc station have proliferated for years, however they had been solely confirmed in 2000.

Campo Fraile instructed CNN Journey {that a} native bus driver discovered proof revealing that “86 tons of Nazi gold handed by the station between 1942 and 1943.”

“Now we have discovered extra paperwork in European and American archives that show that greater than 100 tons of gold handed by the realm,” he mentioned.

Cautious renovation

The renovated interior aims to evoke the 1920s, while also referencing the natural landscape surrounding the hotel.

The renovated inside goals to evoke the Nineteen Twenties, whereas additionally referencing the pure panorama surrounding the resort.

Barceló Accommodations & Resorts

The brand new iteration of Canfranc Station goals to acknowledge and protect the station’s historical past, whereas additionally commencing a brand new chapter for the station and the area.

María Bellosta, resort supervisor at Canfranc, tells CNN Journey that “particular consideration has been paid to each element” of the regeneration mission.

It was necessary, Bellosta added, to keep away from “shedding an iota of its character and massive legacy.”

With this “monumental legacy” comes “an infinite problem,” as Bellosta places it.

The 1928 constructing needed to be tailored to suit the requirements and luxuries of a contemporary resort, with out shedding its historic character.

“We wished to take care of its DNA, its worldwide railway spirit,” says Bellosta.

The resort inside design, the product of Madrid-based design studio ILMIODESIGN, goals to evoke the Nineteen Twenties by its material, decor and employees uniforms. The design additionally consists of particular nods to what Bellosta calls “the historic, cultural and social heritage of Canfranc, and the function it developed in the course of the twentieth century.”

Colours and tones evoke the pure, mountainous panorama surrounding the resort.

There are 104 rooms within the resort, together with 4 suites. There is a wellness space, together with a pool and three eating places. What was as soon as the station concourse is now the resort reception.

Resort visitor Thomas O’Hare praises the “tasteful” transformation of the station concourse into the resort reception.

“The rooms and bar and restaurant comply with this good really feel of contemporary inside with a heavy gesture in direction of its historical past of rail journey,” he says.

O’Hare’s essential quibble is the additional €15 value per visitor for utilizing the resort pool. Plus, Canfranc’s beautiful mountainside location means it does not have a lot in the way in which of grounds.

He additionally suggests the resort may gain advantage from a show detailing the historical past of Canfranc Station, however provides that the employees are very educated on this topic.

New chapter

When Canfranc was a spoil, it was a magnet for photographers each skilled and newbie who wished to seize the ambiance of the haunting spoil.

Bellosta means that post-regeneration these photographers “won’t solely have the privilege of immortalizing it with their cameras after the spectacular restoration, but in addition of staying, having fun with an excellent meal.”

For his half, mayor Sánchez Morales says he is “very glad” with how “the historical past of the station and the railway atmosphere” come to mind all through the resort.

“We hope it is going to be the consolidation of Canfranc as a vacationer vacation spot,” he says.

CNN’s Rochelle Beighton contributed to this report

Clarification: The article has been amended to make clear that whereas Max Ernst fled Nazi persecution, he was not Jewish.