With a tumultuous history, in which it was the scene of the escape of Jews from the Hitler regime but also a warehouse for Nazi gold and tungsten, the international station of Canfranc , in Huesca, comes out of its lethargy to become a five-star hotel, a railway museum and a hundred homes.

On July 18, 1928, the King of Spain, Alfonso XIII , and the President of France, Gaston Dumergue , inaugurated the Canfranc Station and its first train began to circulate through the brand new Somport tunnel.

Ninety years later, the first stone of the project that will give new life to the station, declared an Asset of Cultural Interest in 2002 , has been laid . On the one hand, the reopening of the international railway line, closed in 1970.

Ninety years after its inauguration, the first stone has been laid for the project that will give new life to the Canfranc station, which will become a tourist and leisure complex

On the other hand, the recovery of the Los Arañones esplanade , where the main building of the station is located, owned by the Aragonese Government, and which will host most of the interventions, which have a budget of 27 million euros and They will be completed in 2021.

Recover the lost splendor

Most of the budget will go towards restoring the former splendor of the station’s main building, an impressive 240-meter-long construction with more than 9,000 square meters of surface area and a total of 540 windows.

In a modernist style, the building stands at an altitude of 1,194 meters in the heart of the Aragonese Pyrenees –in fact, it is the gateway to the neighboring ski resorts of Astún and Candanchú- .The station occupies a modernist building from the beginning of the 20th century.

The project will be carried out by the company Ingennus Urban Consulting and will be carried out in four phases: the construction of a hotel, the transfer of the old train stop, the creation of the pilgrim reception center and the opening of a railway museum.

What was the second largest railway terminal in Europe during the first third of the 20th century will thus cease to be the stop of the mythical “canfranero” –which connects the town with Zaragoza- to become a tourist and leisure complex.

A hotel with a novelesco flavor

The project will maintain the original façade, volume and atrium, as well as the characteristics of the modernist and art deco style with which the building was designed. It will have one hundred rooms, two lounges with views of the Pyrenees and an exclusive restaurant divided into two floors.

The future hotel, which will have 100 rooms, will maintain the original façade and atrium, as well as the characteristics of the modernist and art deco style with which the building was designed.

Although the name of the hotel company that will manage it is not yet known, the Zaragoza studio in charge of the works has announced that it will be a five-star establishment that will use energy efficiency criteria to guarantee its airtightness and, at the same time, preserve the environment ambient.

In parallel, a large central square will be built with shops, a 14-hectare green area and a new train terminal that will be located in the western part of the complex and about 60 meters parallel to the original station.

The construction of a hundred houses and the transformation of the old locomotive depot into a museum dedicated to the history of the railway are also planned.Since 1970, only the convoy that connects the town with Zaragoza has been running.

In addition, another of the original constructions, known as the “French machinists’ bedroom”, will be remodeled to turn it into a reception center for pilgrims and thus promote the Camino de Santiago as it passes through Huesca.

A story full of adventures

After its commissioning in 1928, the station had a tumultuous history, especially in the 1940s. At that time, and after a period of inactivity between 1936 and 1940 due to the Civil War, the area gained new interest.

Spies, Nazi connections and gold transport have made the Canfranc station a focus of attention for historians and the curious for years.

Spies, Nazi connections and gold transport have made the Canfranc station a focus of attention for historians and the curious for years.

Thus, as documented by Ramón J. Campo , author of the documentary Game of Spies , tons of tungsten and other materials destined for the war industry of Nazi Germany were transported through Canfranc.Canfranc Station 1970 EFEInternational traffic was interrupted in Canfranc in 1970 after the derailment of a train. 

In payment, the wagons returned to Spain full of gold looted throughout Europe -up to 86 tons, according to J. Campo-. In those years, Canfranc was an important work center for spies from both sides.

But also, he adds, “it was the freedom train, which allowed thousands of Jews, including Marc Chagall and Max Ernst , to flee from the Nazi horror, enter Spain and from there go to America.”

In 1970, a freight train derailed on the L’Estanguet bridge, causing it to collapse and the closure of international rail traffic, although the convoy connecting the town with Zaragoza continued to circulate.

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