The grandiose Nazi railway station in the middle of the mountains: Abandoned transport hub in Spanish Pyrenees which was once the escape route for Jewish refugees before it fell into German hands
By Daniel Miller
PUBLISHED: 05:15 EST, 9 August 2013 | UPDATED: 07:17 EST, 9 August 2013
It was the largest and most glamorous railway station in the world, a shining jewel of Art Nouveau elegance nestling high in the Pyrenees mountains.
But after a chequered history which saw it commandeered by the Nazis during the Second World War, Canfranc International Railway Station has slowly slipped into disrepair and is now little more than a crumbling shell.
Yet it hides a remarkable secret - deep below the surface in the old tunnels that cross the border between Spain and France, scientists have set up movable astroparticle laboratories where they are attempting to unlock the mysteries of dark matter.
End of the line: The abandoned Canfranc railway station on the border between Spain and France
Chequered history: Adolf Hitler and Spanish leader Gen. Francisco Franco give the Nazi salute as they walk down a carpet in a picture believed to have been taken at Canfranc in 1940
Situated on the Spanish side of the border, Canfranc opened to a great fanfare in 1928 and was the shining centrepiece of the main line between France and Spain.
For years, travellers marvelled at the stunning architecture as those who could afford it, checked in to its luxurious adjoining hotel.
The station and the tunnel linking Spain and France were closed during the Spanish Civil War but later re-opened and the station became busy once more.
At the start of the World War Two, Canfranc provided a vital lifeline for thousands of Jewish refugees fleeing occupied Europe.
Spooky: The derelict bar at Canfranc Station has been left to slowly crumble into disrepair
Detail: Ornate plasterwork and an intricate brass light fitting still on display hint at the station's glamorous past
In 1940 Spanish Dictator Franco was pictured proudly leading Hitler along one of its wide sprawling platforms.
The Nazi leader appears to have been impressed and, after recognising the station's logistical importance, the Germans took control raising their Swastika flag above the ornate towers.
The Nazis first used it to transport hundreds of tonnes of looted gold plundered across Europe.
Perversely at the end of the war, the station that had once helped thousands of Jews flee the holocaust was used by Nazi War criminals to evade capture themselves.
A platform at the derelict Canfranc Estacion railway station. The line was abandoned after a derailment in 1970
The derelict hotel lobby in the Canfranc Estacion railway station, once the epitome of art nouveau glamour, now little more than a crumbling ruin
A station sign at the derelict Canfranc Estacion railway station on the France - Spain border
The station returned to business as usual in the 1950s and 1960s, It was used as a set for the 1965 film Doctor Zhivago.
A large steam locomotive jumped the rails and crashed. Luckily no one was killed, but it spelt the end for CanFranc as a railway station.
Abandoned and apparently forgotten, it became prey to vandals, visited only by the occasional curious tourist, the once magnificent walls were daubed with graffiti, the gleaming ticket hall and other offices allowed to collect dust and debris.
Second life: The railway station is now used as an astroparticle physics lab with experiments taking place in the tunnels deep underground
A diagram shows how the laboratories, where scientists research dark matter, are situated in tunnels deep below the surface
That was until 1985 when Spanish physicists realised Canfranc would be the perfect location for an underground astroparticle laboratory.
It is now used to research dark matter, with an entrance beneath the station and movable labs set up in the old railway tunnels.
Over the years there has been much talk about reopening it as a station, but although some plans have been put forward, it seems an unlikely pipe dream.
Headlines Newsview all
Amanda Holden at the centre of Twitter backlash as she sends daughter to school dressed as Pretty Woman prostitute for fancy dress day
A parenting group has slammed TV star Amanda Holden for posting a picture of her nine-year-old daughter 'dressed as a prostitute' online.The Britain's Got Talent ... Full story
Grandmother filmed confronting militants and branding them 'devils' before quoting verses in the Koran that forbid slaughter
An incredible video has emerged showing the moment an elderly woman bravely confronted two Islamic State militants, telling them their terror group is cursed and ... Full story
Jobseeker shocked to be sent rudest rejection email ever calling him an 'old, aesthetically challenged professional pr*** with no teeth'
A jobseeker was shocked after he was branded as 'irritating', 'rude' and 'obnoxious' in a cutting email accidentally sent to him by a prospective employer.James ... Full story
Rate this article
MOST POPULAR ON CAPITALBAY
- Rare photos reveal how Las Vegas has transformed over the years
- Anger over Uber goes global
- British Airways flight forced to abort landing to prevent crash with private jet
What a washout! Heavy rain forces play to be suspended in The Open at St Andrews after lightning and 50mph winds hit Britain... and there's more on the way
Conditions halt play before first group had even finished first hole on second day of championship in FifeDownpour saw torrent of water gushing down ...
It happened on the A24 at Findon, West Sussex, at about 8.30pm, last nightSuspect got out of car in front and knifed driver in other ...
Furious holiday goers complained of long queues at Heathrow's Terminal 2Passengers claimed 'chaos' due to self-service machines running out of paperHappened as 3,000 people descended on ...
Son of NHS doctor from Middlesbrough helped to recruit up to 18 fellow medical students to join Isis
Mohammed Fakhri Al-Khabass' father ran a GP practice on Teesside25-year-old grew up in Middlesbrough but went to university in SudanHe then radicalised other ...
Pictured: The tattered party dress, dirty shorts and ripped t-shirt found next to a child's body and a battered suitcase by the side of a road
Police release images of suitcase and clothes found with dead childA girl's black dress, undergarments, and a girl's shoe were picturedGender of the child still ...
Shocking footage shows Russian-backed rebels rifle through belongingsThey initially believed they had shot down a Ukrainian fighter jet Donetsk People's Republic and Kremlin have always denied responsibility 298 passengers and crew ...
Mayor says children must be kept inside between 2pm and 5pm and tells town to be quiet as it becomes the first in Spain to have an official afternoon nap time
Joan Faus Vitoria, mayor of Ador in Valencia, has brought in official siestasFor three hours every day, locals are able to return home and go to ...
Arnold Holle urged Germans not to send children to UK public schoolsInvestment banker spent 'seven-figure' sending all four of his childrenBut said pupils learn same ...
Chief Inspector Paul Cahill allegedly found slumped over wheel of his carOfficers searching vehicle found MDMA, mephedrone and controlled sedativeCahill was on way to court to ...
Prince Harry is at front line of a war against the illegal trade in rhino horn Royal is raising awareness of a deaths of thousands of ...