Most of the time, subway riders are more concerned with getting to their destinations than in observing the station around them. But these subway stations around the globe—from New York to Dubai—are worth a second look for their public displays of art and architecture. Beyond their literal ability to transport, these stations take us to various times and places with their classical and modern architecture, and visually dynamic murals and paintings. We rounded up our favorite subway stations for a new perspective on the underground commute.
Italians will be quick to agree that Naples has the most beautiful metro stations in the country. Thanks to Metro Napoli's "Art Stations," visitors can gape at large-scale work by top designers and artists like Anish Kappor and Karim Rashid. The most famous station is Toledo Metro Station with its water- and light-themed art by Oscar Tusquet Blanca (above).
The subway stations in Moscow are some of the best places to explore traditional Russian art. Many stations impress visitors with arched columns and romantic murals and paintings. Check out the ornate, Neoclassical-inspired Komsomolskaya Station in the Krasnoselsky District, designed by Dmitry Chechulin.
The Swedish famously have an eye on design, and the Swedish subway is effortlessly reflective of Sweden’s progressive design aesthetics with modern sculptures, mosaics, and installations. In Stockholm, the "Tunnelbana" is often considered the longest art exhibition in the world. Check out Kungstradgarden Station, inspired by the Makalos Palace.
New York, New York
The Metro in NYC is a popular attraction in itself. Locals will argue which station is the most beautiful (whether it’s City Hall or Grand Central Station). Astor Place 6 train station has wooed both locals and visitors alike for its aesthetically pleasing geometric porcelain wall panels, thanks to graphic artist Milton Glaser (who created the iconic "I Heart NY" logo).
The Monroe/State Red Line station in Chicago‘s metro is like stepping back in time. It’s a great example of the Art Moderne-style architecture from the early 1940s. The station still has the original ticket agent booth and some illuminated sign boxes, in addition to the original façade, display case, and doors of the now-closed Carson Pirie Scott department store.
Dubai is an over-the-top destination, and it’s no different in the city's Metro system. A combination of heritage and modern design, the Khalid Bin Al Waleed Station flaunts interiors depicting the four elements of nature (water, air, earth, fire) with oversized chandelier lamps in the shape of jellyfish.
At the Universidad de Chile Metro Station in Santiago, the Mario Toral mural Memoria Visual de una Nacion is larger than life and nationally inspired. It chronicles the triumphs and tragedies of Chilean history, politics, and religion.
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