Transports of Delight: The World's Most Beautiful Subway Stations

01 Naples Toledo
Toledo station in Naples, Italy. Mario Laporta/AFP

In 1933, the Soviet Union began construction work on what would become some of the world’s most beautiful subway stations. The Moscow Metro opened in 1935. Built mainly by hand, the train stations resemble a palace more than a place of transit. And they were palaces of a sort: they articulated, through architecture, the Soviet creed that the worker, not a king, queen or Tsar, reigned supreme. The irony—and tragedy—is that these palaces required the punishment of the very people they venerated: working conditions on these palatial subway sites were notoriously cruel.

Russia is not alone in beautiful subway stations—and not all share such a dark history. The popular perception of underground train stations as dirty and dusty and overrun with rats might account for most subway stations, but not all of them.

Across the world, whether in London, Toronto, New York, Paris or Kiev, there are stations that offer much more to the eye. Tourists and locals come not to rush through to catch the connecting train but to pause and enjoy the space. Sometimes these stations are impressive in their relative ancientness, other times because they are dazzlingly modern.

London’s Underground, initially the Metropolitan Railway, is the world's oldest underground railway. It first opened in 1863 to address high levels of horse-drawn traffic, linking the City to the railway stations at Paddington, Euston and King’s Cross. Now it carries about 1.3 billion people annually across 270 stations.

In 1884, when the Circle Line was added to its network, The Times described it as “a form of mild torture, which no person would undergo if he could conveniently help it.” The truth is that, over a century later and for all the beautiful stations, this remains the attitude of most commuters across the entire underground train-system—especially at rush-hour. Subway commuters in other countries are likely to agree.

Click through this gallery and allow Newsweek to transport you to 50 of the most beautiful subways stations around the world. 

02 Kaohsiung
Formosa Boulevard Mass Rapid Transit station in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Sam Yeh/AFP
03 Taiwan Central Park Station taiwan
Central Park Mass Rapid Transit station in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Getty Images
04 Moscow Elektrozavodskaya
Elektrozavodskaya metro station in Moscow, Russia. Grigory Dukor/Reuters
06 Prague malostranska
Malostranska station in Prague, Czech Republic. Getty Images
07 Madrid Atocha
Botanical garden inside Atocha station in Madrid, Spain. Getty Images
08 Paris Arts
Arts et Metiers station in Paris, France. Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters
09 Stockholm Solna
Solna subway station in Stockholm, Sweden. Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP
10 Stockholm Centralen
T-Centralen station in Stockholm, Sweden. Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP
11 Dubai
Khalid Bin Al Waleed station in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Getty Images
15 North Korea
Yonggwang station in Pyongyang, North Korea. Reuters
12 Lisbon
Olaias station in Lisbon, Portugal. Miguel Riopa/AFP