Milan’s Central Station rises like a massive pile of stone in the centre of the city, 36 metres high and 207 metres across. The station’s competing designers over the years were ahead of their time, creating a futuristic fantasy realm, a cathedral dedicated to technical progress. King Victor Emmanuel III laid the cornerstone for the edifice on 28 April 1906 even before plans for the station had even been fully drawn up. Ulisse Stacchini, the architect of Stazione Centrale, won the tender six years later. The economic crisis that unfolded in Italy during and after the First World War kept progress slow. The terminal station, initially planned as a rather simple structure, became more and more complex and monumental as time passed. Its front façade at 200 metres long and 72 metres high was on the verge of breaking the world record at the time. After Benito Mussolini came to power in 1922, the plans underwent extensive replanning several times over because the station was now going to symbolize the strength and superiority of the fascist regime. The first changes involved the construction of new platforms and a gigantic steel dome 341 metres long, giving the station a massive total space of 66,500 m2. Construction was resumed in 1925 and completed by the time the station was finally dedicated on 1July 1931.
Where legendary trains such as the Orient Express once started their journeys now only sees the “pendolini” local trains stopping under the glass and iron vaulted dome. The terminus now houses 24 tracks and 320,000 passengers pass through on a daily basis.