Whether for a historical curiosity, an interest in the capital’s less visited sights or a search for good photo opportunities, a tour of Bucharest’s train stations has something to offer to everyone.
The oldest train station in the capital is Gara Filaret. It was inaugurated in 1869 as the capital’s first and the only one until 1872, when the Gara de Nord station opened. In 1960 its use was changed into a bus station but since its establishment, the area surrounding Gara Filaret was one of flourishing trade. In its close vicinity one can find the Carol Park but also many other industrial-purpose sites such as the Matches Factory, the National Minting and the Stamps Plant. The first train to leave the Filaret station had King Carol I of Romania as passenger.
The construction of Bucharest’s and the country’s largest train station – Gara de Nord – kicked off in 1868. When it opened in 1872 so did the Roman-Galati-Bucuresti-Pitesti route. The building of the station combines classical architecture elements with ArtDeco details. The area itself where the station stands is filled with ArtDeco and Modernist-style buildings. Initially the station was called Gara Targovistei as one of the streets upon which the building overlooks today – Calea Grivitei – was called Calea Targovistei. The building is U shaped and made of two parallel buildings linked through a corridor. Nowadays, almost 200 trains make their way in and out of the station. There is a direct link from here to the Henri Coanda International Airport, through a train operated by the Romanian Railways Company CFR Calatori. Around 10,000 people are estimated to pass through the station daily. When getting to and departing the station beware of over-priced cabs parked in the area and offering transport.
Very close to Gara de Nord stands Gara Basarab. Built in 1959, it is used mainly as a railway node for short-distance running trains. It is served by the Basarab subway stations and several bus lines. A visit there can be a good opportunity to admire the views from the recently built Basarab overpass to which it links.
Also in the historical sites series is Gara Baneasa. Although rarely used today, it remains known as the Royal Train station because it was built in 1936 with the purpose of accommodating guests of the royal family of Romania. It had this purpose until 1947 when it was turned into a presidential station. After 1950, the communist authorities used it to welcome foreign dignitaries here. You can find it close to the Miorita fountain and Miorita bridge in Northern Bucharest, to which it shares common architectural elements. Another royal train station is to be found in Sinaia, the city accommodating the Peles castle.
And for the ultimate railways enthusiast, the tour of Bucharest train stations can be expanded with visits to sites out of use or of changed used today. The two now-extinct stations of the capital are Gara Herastrau, which used to stand close to the Herastrau park and Gara Dealul Spirii. The latter was part of the destroyed Uranus neighborhood. Currently under renovation works is Gara Progresul, hosting the rail link of the country to Bulgaria. A transformed station is Gara Cotroceni, which lends its name to two train stations in the capital city. The first one used to stand close to the Cotroceni palace and was used by royal trains. After 1950 it was put out of use and turned into an entrance building for the Cotroceni palace.