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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Amsterdam, Netherlands - Centraal Station

Central train station, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.Image via Wikipedia
By Harry PrestonThe ornate facade of this Dutch nee-Renaissance style railway station with its distinctive twin towers is an architectural highlight. Constructed on three man-made islands, the building rests en 8,687 piles to keep it stable on Amsterdam's shifting mud and sand.
Built in 1889 by P J H Cuypers and A L van Gendt, the red stone exterior is decorated in Gothic style with carvings, mosaic tiles and gold accents. Two majestic towers guard the entrance: the western tower bears a weather vane while the eastern tower carries a clock. Controversial when built, as it effectively cuts off the city from its own waterfront, the building was considered by some, particularly the Protestants, to be too decorative (or Catholic, in their view) in its Gothic embellishments, earning the building its nickname, the "French Convent". Cuypers also designed the Rijksmuseum, which stands like a mirror image on the other side of the city and came to be referred to locally as the "Bishop's House".
Centraal Station is the bustling central hub of activity in the city, enlarged many times to cope with increasing demands for travel. Just about every destination in the country and beyond can be reached from here, with some 1,500 trains arriving and departing every day. Easy access to Schiphol airport provides a convenient link for travelers. It is also the hub of tram and bus services, as well as a terminus of the metro system. Behind the station ferries traverse the IJ River, connecting travelers across the water. Platform 2 has a small tourist office, the main one is across Stationsplein in the white building. The Eerste Class restaurant with its belle epoque decor and 19th- century cafe provides a quiet respite and delicious food. In the main hall below are numerous fast-food outlets and shops.
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