Muscat Daily - - BREAK -

Sit­ting at the foothills of the Pyre­nees moun­tains on the Span­ish side of the French-Span­ish bor­der is an im­mense rail­way sta­tion. Built with iron and glass, the sta­tion’s art nou­veau build­ing stretches a quar­ter of a kilo­me­tre, and its façade is dec­o­rated with more than 300 win­dows.

In­side the build­ing, there was once a lux­u­ri­ous ho­tel, an in­fir­mary, a restau­rant and liv­ing quar­ters for cus­toms of­fi­cers. Aside from the plat­form and the main build­ing, there was a large lo­co­mo­tive de­pot, two sheds for the trans­ship­ment of freight be­tween French and Span­ish trains, var­i­ous other out­build­ings and an ex­ten­sive lay­out of tracks. The sta­tion was nick­named the ‘Ti­tanic of the Moun­tains’.

The Canfranc In­ter­na­tional Rail­way Sta­tion was part of a larger plan to open up the bor­der be­tween Spain and France to en­able more in­ter­na­tional trade and travel. The am­bi­tious project in­volved dozens of bridges and a se­ries of tun­nels drilled through the moun­tains.

The dream fi­nally be­came re­al­ity in 1928, when the Span­ish King Al­fonso XIII and French Pres­i­dent Gas­ton Doumer­gue in­au­gu­rated the newly built rail­way sta­tion.

Un­for­tu­nately, the rail­way line never be­came prof­itable. Im­me­di­ately af­ter the line opened, Europe sank into an eco­nomic cri­sis, and things got worse when Franco or­dered the tun­nels sealed dur­ing the 1936 Span­ish civil war to pre­vent Repub­li­can op­po­nents from smug­gling weapons in.

For the short pe­riod the sta­tion op­er­ated, it saw as few as 50 pas­sen­gers a day.

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