Although the refurbishment work with Canfranc terminal is nearing conclusion, it is still impressive in its building design and also size. Apart from the fact that delicate spirits can grab a somewhat haunted atmosphere, nothing mean the terminal’s past. It was the setup for the transport of gold swiped by the Nazis, global espionage and the trip of thousands of Jews throughout the Second World War.

Any individual coming close to the terminal for the very first time will unquestionably question why the disproportionate structure is located in this abandoned area.

At the end of the nineteenth century, the tiny town of Canfranc was chosen by the Spanish and French governments as an area for international transport of products and also passengers in between Zaragoza in Spain as well as Toulouse and Bordeaux in France. The border terminal would certainly be inspected by both Spanish as well as French personalizeds.


The building of the terminal was difficult because of its size and remote area. The structure rock was stocked 1915 and also ten years later– after the First World War– construction completed. In July 1928, King Alfonso XIII, General Primo de Rivera as well as French Head Of State Paul Painlevé opened the remarkable terminal.

The 1930s saw Canfranc terminal humming with activity and also an international circulation of passengers and also products. Nonetheless, the thriving business near the little town concerned a sudden end when the Spanish Civil War broke out. The terminal closed for numerous years to avoid an invasion from France.

Modernist and also commercial

The length of Canfranc station is clear

The modernist, narrow yet 240 meters lengthy structure is split right into three components. In the main part were the counters appearing like significant wooden confessionals. In each area, large discolored glass home windows integrated with classic pillars and also dark woodwork. With three hundred windows, 156 doors, a slate roof, enhanced concrete walls, countless columns and also various other modernist Spanish as well as French aspects, the terminal certainly fulfilled its purpose of being representative of the century simply ushered in.

The commercial personality of the structure, attained via extensive use of glass, iron and concrete, is characteristic of the architecture of that time. Outside the major structure, the terminal had numerous loading and discharging areas for the transhipment of goods and also the storage space of machines.

Crucial find

One afternoon in October 2000, French bus vehicle driver and also guide, Jonathan Díaz, birthed of Spanish moms and dads, discovered old files discussing “gold bars” in an abandoned shed on the grounds of Canfranc station. He did not locate this also strange since he had actually read about this many times from his older fellow villagers.

Díaz began researching the papers as well as discovered the Germans’ gold deliveries. With his findings, he travelled to Zaragoza for help from the authorities, however obtained no feedback. As soon as aware of Díaz’s discover, the Spanish train firm Renfe accumulated 24 more mailbags loaded with papers from the 1930s, 40s, 50s as well as 60s. There began agitated initiatives to recover the French finder’s packed documents.

Nazi gold transport

The documents discovered by Díaz launched hitherto “failed to remember” info about the Nazis’ dealings on Canfranc throughout The Second World War. At that time it was under the supervision of the German SS and also Gestapo. The so-called neutrality of Spain during WWII provided the Germans with an ideal cover for the transport of gold and also goods stolen from Jews.

The files reveal there were 86.6 tons of gold, 4 lots of silver, 10 lots of watches, 44 tons of tools material and also 4 tons of opium. The swiped products were moved in Swiss trains from Germany to Spain and also Portugal. Parts of the rare-earth element were then packed onto ships in Lisbon on their method to South America. In the direction of completion of the battle, some Germans also followed this gold route to nations on the South American continent.


Spain was not at war with the Third Reich, yet built up debt by approving help throughout the civil battle. This financial debt was paid off with tungsten steel mined in Galician mines. The Germans armoured their tanks as well as cannons with this mineral. The Germans paid for the rest with a minimum of 12 tons of gold and also 4 tons of opium, according to data found by Díaz.

Flight of the Jews

Before and during the Second World War, worldwide custom-mades at Canfranc also gave a gateway to freedom for Jews getting away from the Germans. Authorities data shows around 13,000 Jews crossed the Spanish border via the 3 boundary crossings at the time: Port Bou, Canfranc and also Hendaya.

The memoirs of Antonio Galtier Rimbaud, customizeds policeman at Canfranc in between 1935 as well as 1946– show thousands of Jews ran away through Canfranc station towards North Africa and South America. Or they had Spain as well as Portugal as their last location.

According to Rimbaud, the scenes which occurred at the station were heart breaking. Many family members went across Europe to conserve their lives, only to get here in ‘risk-free’ Spain and also be sent back by the Gestapo. Some were caught and also others took off. Those that did manage to get right into the major hall still needed to get a ticket to a safe location. If that didn’t function, these individuals were sent back by the Germans or worse.

The excellent decay

After the end of the Second World War, activities at the station stopped up until 1949. Even though worldwide transport occurred by means of Canfranc once again, it never ever went back to the level of the 1930s. In January 1970, a train crashed off the French train bridge. Ever since, the French federal government has actually refused to bring back the bridge. This leaves the last part of the course to Canfranc broken up and Canfranc an end-of-the-line station. Repetitive and also urgent demands from the Spanish federal government to recover the bridge were unsuccessful.

Because of the tiny value of the town of Canfranc itself, there were quickly just two trains a day. The terminal structure fell into disrepair. As well as despite being declared a Historic-Artistic Monument by the federal government of Aragon, it was constantly disregarded by those exact same authorities. The effect of this, partly thanks to the severe hill climate, is very easy to presume. The structure, which is not also a century old, was seriously damaged on all sides.

New life as a hotel

Canfranc station undergoing renovation

In 2005, the Spanish government signed an agreement for a significant job. A deluxe hotel and also a large shopping center were to revive the old station structure. Because of an absence of money, the job stopped eventually. At the end of March 2012, brand-new prepare for the terminal and the bordering area existed.

In December of that year, the Spanish Ministry of Development marketed Canfranc terminal to the local federal government of Aragon for a symbolic amount. The most recent strategy is in progression. It includes even more trains running through the station, turning the structure into a high-end resort as well as connecting the site with the ski resorts of Astún, Candanchú and Formigal through a cable car.

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