Deep in the Aragon Valley in Spain, the abandoned Cranfranc Station has been transformed into a luxurious hotel. Near the Pyrenees mountains, not far from the French border, the station has been abandoned for decades after closing its doors in 1970. Following its staggering history of arrests, espionage and gold trafficking, Cranfranc Station welcomes guests for the first time in January 2023.

The station first opened in 1928, the ceremony attended by the King of Spain and the President of the French Republic. Due to its position near the borer, the ownership was initially shared between Spain and France and played an active role during World War II, where before Nazi rule, the station acted as a gateway to liberty for some European Jews.

Ramón Javier Campo Fraile, the writer behind the project of Canfranc, told CNN Travel in 2017 that “in the first years of the world war, from 1940 to 1942, thousands of Jews fled by train from Canfranc to Lisbon and the United States.”

According to Campo Fraile, painters Max Ernest and Marc Chagall and American entertainer Josephine Baker were among those who transited the station. Escape through Canfranc became harder as the station became a site of arrests. Rumours of Nazi gold trafficking through Canfranc Station have continued for years and were eventually confirmed in 2000.

The new development of the station comes with the intention to recognise and preserve its history. The almost 100-year-old building had been adapted to fit the standards and amenities of a modern hotel. Architect Thomas O’Hare sought to evoke the 1920s through the decor by intertwining contemporary and nostalgic elements and Aragonese culture, transforming the station into a historical icon.

“The rooms and bar and restaurant follow this nice feel of modern interior with a heavy gesture towards its history of rail travel,” O’Hare said. “The exterior is very grand and certainly gives the impression of travel from a different time.”

The 104-room hotel includes four suites, a wellness area, a pool, and three restaurants. The concourse has transformed into the reception area.

The hotel Manager at Canfranc, María Bellosta, said that special attention was put into every detail of the regeneration process. 

“We wanted to maintain its DNA, its international railway spirit,” Bellosta explained.




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