Antwerp Central Station is one of Europe’s most breathtaking railway termini. The city’s first station was the wooden terminus of the railway from Brussels and Mechelen, which lay outside the fortifications at Borgerhoutse Pont. In 1886 it was decided to build line to a new terminus in the city centre, construction of which began in 1895 and was completed ten years later. The three main features of the project, the approach viaduct, the 185m long steel and glass train shed, which originally accommodated 10 platforms, and the station building, designed by Louis Delacenserie (1838-1909), are all remarkable. The five-bay entrance to the stone-built station is flanked by two towers, and a huge lantern dome lights the circulation area. The application of Baroque detailing, which uses more than twenty kinds of stone, including several varieties of marble, hides the extensive use of steel and concrete in the construction. Six small ornamental towers demolished in the 1950s were restored in 2009. There is a magnificent steel and glass screen at the outer end of the platforms. The impressive side elevations show how the platforms are raised high above the level of the surrounding streets. In 1993 the Belgian railway authority, the SNCB (Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Belges) or NMBS (Maatschappj der Belgische Sporwegen), embarked on a large-scale reconstruction of the station and began to drive tunnels designed to allow Amsterdam-Brussels expresses to avoid reversal. The through platforms were opened to traffic in 1907, and the whole scheme, with a new entrance from Kievilplein, was completed in 2009. Trains now operate from 14 platforms on three levels. As in many modern stations there are extensive retailing facilities, including more than 30 merchants who offer diamonds for sale. The station features memorably in the opening sequence of W G Sebald’s (1944-2001) novel Austerlitz.