"Rolling Horse"Berlin Hauptbahnhof, the main railway station of the German capital, was inaugurated in May 2006, and is the largest rail junction in Europe. The modern station, with its clean lines and all the amenities needed by a traveler, was designed to represent old and new train travel in Berlin. When Anita and I traveled to Berlin a few weeks ago, we took a tour of the station and liked what we saw.

 New station, historic site

The Hauptbahnhof is located on the site of the historic Lehrter Bahnhof, which operated from 1871 until 1951. Until it was severely damaged in World War II, the Lehrter Bahnhof was the connection point between Hannover and Berlin. After the war, it was repaired and in service until all long distance train travel was cut off by the East German regime.

Soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, city planners began work on a transport plan for a reunified Berlin. In 1992 the federal government decided that Berlin’s new station would be built on the site of the old Lehrter Bahnhof, in an area close to the center of Berlin and government buildings, but not heavily populated.

Berlin’s Hauptbahnhof is constructed mostly of steel and glass, giving the station an airy and light feel. Horizontal panels were built using bridge construction methods and lowered into place over the dome spanning the tracks.

The new station was designed by Hamburg architecture firm Gerkan, Marg and Partners. It has five levels. The main hall’s curved glass roof is about 85 meters (297 feet) wide and 120 meters (390 feet) long. This provides light for all five levels and gives the station an open feel.

I especially like the use of glass and structural steel in the building, which to me captures the strength of the construction. The use of glass makes the station well lit and spacious. Viewing Berlin’s Hauptbahnhof in black and white highlights the structure more clearly.

The canopy over the Europaplatz entrance to Berlin’s Central Station
The Europaplatz entrance to Berlin main station
A Deutsche Bahn ICE train arrives at Berlin’s main station. There is an abundance of natural light on the station’s lowest level, where long distance tracks are located several meters below ground.
Eight steel and concrete supports allow light to flow from the glass roof to the lowest levels of Berlin’s main station.
An arched roof lets in light and some of the panes can be opened to help cool the station in the summer. Deutsche Bahn’s regional trains use the upper tracks shown here.
The arched roof of Berlin’s main station spans 85 meters (297 feet). Circular elevators supplement escalators, carrying travelers between upper and lower levels.
At Berlin’s main station, external steel frame supports create an artistic form against the sunset.
The station is always in motion, with more than 1,000 trains per day. It is estimated that at least 300,000 passengers travel through the station each day.

If you go

The Berlin Hauptbahnhof is one of Germany’s primary rail hubs, well served by Deutsche Bahn’s fast train service (ICE) and regional trains.

  • The station is a work in progress, so give yourself a little extra time to find your way. Staff at the Deutsche Bahn Information Booth are happy to assist with directions, both in-town (via train, U-Bahn, tram and bus) and for making long-distance connections.
  • For information about activities in the station (concerts, shopping specials, tours and the like), check out the Berlin HBF blog.
  • For getting around Berlin by bike, or self-drive to nearby cities, there are both Call a Bike and Flinkster Car Sharing stations at the Hauptbahnhof. Both services are offered by Deutsche Bahn.
  • Use a locker to stash your bags while you explore the city. They are available in various sizes, at costs ranging from 4 to 8 euro per day.
  • When you travel by train from Berlin, take advantage of Deutsche Bahn’s DB Lounge. It is available to first-class ticket holders, users of the German Rail Pass, and for a nominal fee, everyone else!

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We visited Berlin as guests of Deutsche Bahn and Visit Berlin, while attending Potsdamer Schlössernacht, one of many German Festivals across the country through the summer and autumn seasons.


  1. Tom, Enjoyed your superb photos of the Berlin Hauptbahnhof. Thanks so much to you and Anita for giving us such fantastic tours of the world through your magnificent photos and most enjoyable and informational descriptions of the life around you. Doris Yokelson

    • I’m very happy to know that you liked the photos, and especially glad to hear that you enjoy traveling the world with Anita and me. Thanks so much for your comment, it is always great to hear what our readers think of our posts!

  2. Hi Tom,

    beautiful photos!

    Another interesting fact about the Hauptbahnhof – 2006 was the year when the Football Worldcup was held in Germany, so it was really important that the building finished on time. However, there was a slight hick-up, and they didn’t manage to finish the roofing over the First Class section of the upper level. Berliners being Berliners, the thought that the First Class was standing in the rain when waiting for the train – whilst the cheaper sections were well protected – provided for a lot of hilarity.

    And I think it’s amazing that they diverted the entire river Spree to make space for the Hauptbahnhof – true vision.

    • Fascinating, Gudrun, thanks for the great extra info about the Hauptbahnhof. I guess you may have been standing out in 1st class then, or was that before you became a Berliner?


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