The history of Warsaw Main railway station


Warsaw-Vienna railroad’s goods station (1875)

Circural Railway (1874-1876)


In the early 1870’s the decision was made to build a new goods station on Warsaw-Vienna railroad. This was necessary as freight traffic to, and through Warsaw was constantly increasing. It was caused by several factors. Those factors were, among other things, building new spur lines serving bigger manufacturing plants, which were situated near railway lines, and increased demand for essential goods, vital  for living in a quickly developing city (food products, coal, construction materials). Another important factor increasing Warsaw-Vienna railroad commodity trade was gradually interlarding  its lines into an interconnected with foreign railways system, which was slowly coming into life  on The Kingdom of Poland’s  territory.


The building and opening of the further  railway lines: Warsaw-Bydgoszcz railway, Warsaw-St.Petersburg railway (1862), Warsaw-Terespol railway (1867), and also Fabryczna Railway from Koluszki to Łódź (1865), resulted in an increased  flow of goods through  Warsaw. The different gauge of railways meeting in Warsaw made the city an important transshipment and transit point. In this situation, in order to benefit significantly from freight traffic, the Warsaw-Vienna Railroad Company had to increase sharply the Warsaw goods station’s potential, all the more due to the fact that  the previously used tracks, warehouses and slip roads located at main station (corner of Marszałkowska street and Al. Jerozolimskie) were starting to become too tight.


For this reason it was decided to build a new, larger goods station outside the city, on Czyste village territory. The project  was designed  simultaneously with the project of connecting with each other railroads with different tracks on the right and left bank of the Vistula river, using a railroad known as the Circular Railway. The station was situated on territory of the later Warsaw Main Railway Station, and today’s Station: Museum at Towarowa street.


One of the few known iconographic records with the view of the goods station is a drawing from 1875, published in “Tygodnik Ilustrowany” (“The Illustrated Weekly”). On the foreground it shows a railway dispatch house, adjacent to it a low warehouse with a ramp, and a warehouse for grain, situated along.


The view of the goods station DŻWW with a railway dispatch house, a warehouse for grain
and a warehouse with loading-unloading ramp.


Another iconographic record is the plan of this station, which was published  in the “Przegląd Techniczny” in 1876 along with an article about its construction. This article considerably helps to determine  which buildings and appliances were at the station. Another equally valuable records are photographs of drawings with a view of station’s buildings like steam locomotive shed, water tower etc. The photographs are now a part of the Station: Museum’s collection.


The goods station DŻWW was built at the same time as circular railway, that is in 1875. Its location, more or less coincides  with the territory currently occupied by Station: Museum.  It covered  the territory north of the main Warsaw-Vienna passenger railway line between Jerozolimska bar (today Plac Zawiszy) and Czyste village. From the east, the station was enclosed by Okopowa street (currently Towarowa street). After the opening of two broad gauge Railrod Railways in the 1860s: Warsaw-St.Petersburg and Warsaw-Terespol a problem occurred with freight hauling from carriages operating on the normally gauged tracks on Warsaw-Vienna railroad to carriages on broad gauged tracks, which were used in Russia and throughout the Kingdom of Poland. The Warsaw-Vienna railway was an exception and this is the reason why the problem occurred. For strategical reasons, railways with differently gauged tracks didn’t have any connections with each other, so any transport of goods encountered  additional difficulties. The “Kierbedzia” bridge wasn’t a railway bridge, and it served only for horsecars.


The Building of goods station DŻWW was directly connected to  the building of the circular line. Among the major points speaking in favour  of the decision was not only the vastness of land, which created the right conditions for the extension, easy road access for horse carriages, but above all the idea, that it could be possible to connect other railway lines in Warsaw, situated on the right bank of the Vistula river, by building the new railway line running along city’s west outskirts to the other side of the Vistula river on an iron bridge. In Praga borough, the circular railway line had a  connection to the Vistula River Railway and it was supposed to branch off in the northern direction to Gdańsk and in the south-west direction, reaching St.Petersburg and Terespol Railway Stations.


City plan of Warsaw with visible circular railway line and railway stations, which the circular railway connected, 1879 (Clockwise: Kowel Railway Station, Petersburg Railway Station, Terespol Railway Station, Vienna Railway Station, Freight Station of Warsaw-Vienna Line)


This double railway lines (broad gauge track 1524 millimeters and normally gauged 1423 millimeters) were built between 1874-1880 with the first Warsaw railway bridge near Citadel, which was designed by the engineer Tadeusz Chrzanowski. On the upper level of the bridge two types of tracks were laid: for standard and broad gauged rolling stocks. The circular railway line ended its run near the goods station.


The first railway bridge in Warsaw near Citadel (Circrual railway line), 1875


The new goods station for Warsaw-Vienna railway line was opened on 01.10.1875. In the newspaper “Przegląd techniczny” from 1876 we can find its detailed description. It was designed on one level approx. 1 meter below railway station for passengers. The total cost of construction of buildings, tracks and devices, including buying out land, land drainage and gas pipes distribution amounted to 1 000 000 rubles. The building area took up a of total 14 hectares and was fenced off with the brick wall.


Plan of goods station DŻWW, 1876


The establishment of the design was based on a X-shaped plan, one arm of X  formed tracks running from the main line to circular railway line, and second leg was the axis of railroad yard, which was used for technical support. The traffic was organized in such a  way that all maneuvers while operating the trains would be as safe as possible. To fulfill this condition, work at the station was organized in groups, working along tracks and with clearly assigned tasks.


“When we closely analyze the plan of this railway station, we can see, that auxiliary tracks branched off the main line and divided into two pairs of tracks: one for arrivals and the other for departures. From “ready to departure” tracks branched off crossing tracks, leading towards Okopowa street to the transshipping and warehouse area and towards Tunelowa street, where there was a coal yard and a backshop. Near the crossroad, there was a place for shipping goods to and from the broad gauged Vistula River Railway’s carriages.  The Warsaw-Vienna Railway Line had it own standard gauged line running to the right bank of the Vistula river, next to the broad gauged Circulate Railway line. In this way it was possible to send standard gauged trains to Praga borough. (A. Paszke, „Dworce Drogi Żelaznej Warszawsko-Wiedeńskiej”, Oddział I, Warszawa – Skierniewice
1845-1900, Warszawa 1986, str. 10-11).


Near the goods station many buildings were built, mostly of red brick, we can divide into two groups. First one - buildings for public use situated at Okopowa street, second one - outbuildings in the centre of the station. There were also situated ramps and squares for freight hauling. This paved the way for easy access to the city.


The station was designed as a terminal. Tracks for arriving trains were separated from those for departing trains. Separated tracks were built for waiting carriages - they were connected with warehouses, freight hauling squares and ramps, coal yards and steam locomotive shed.


“Whole station area, reaching up to Sienna street, was fenced off with a brick wall. In 1882 to the goods station DŻWW was brought city horsecar from Plac Teatralny. In 1890 due to proximity of the station, one part of the Okopowa street changed its name to Towarowa street. Soon the street was paved with stone” (F. Karoński "Śladami nieistniejącego dworca", Świat Kolei nr 5, Warszawa 2000).






The first building constructed at the goods station was the logistics office, situated alongside  Okopowa street. “It was designed on a rectangular outline with side avant-corps. Building prism was much fragmented, built of brick, unplastered, covered with pitched roofs made of galvanized sheet metal. One storey main building measuring about 31m x 14m had on its axis  a two-storey avant-crops. To the building were adjuncted storey side wings, which had about 17m in length and 14m in width. From the north and south, the building was flanked with two-storey annexes. On the right side of the annex there is a canopy supported by columns. The columns are placed on the high foundation. The drawing doesn’t explain what function the canopy served. Probably it was a side entrance to the building. Logistics office’s ground floor housed offices and ticket offices, on the first floor were official flats for railway workers. On the east, a track was situated on which the railroad trucks were moved.  The architect designing the warehouse used simple means of expression adjusting building’s appearance to its functions. As a deviation from the functionalist industrial style that this building exemplifies, there are some decorative elements, enriching the architecture, which the architect applied very sparingly, achieving a diversification of the wall in elevation by a composition of bricks forming panels and pilaster strips.  Annexes panels are crested with serrated frieze, their facade is also decorated with a separated window with an arcade framing (E. Leszczyńska, "Zabudowa Stacji Towarowej Kolei Warszawsko-Wiedeńskiej oraz Tymczasowy Dworzec Główny - rys historyczny", Warsaw, p. 1).


The DŻWW logistic office at Towarowa street, 1950’s


The logistic office’s design had distinct features of industrial architecture, the main school of thought of which - in this part of Europe – was centered in Germany. The industrial style came with industrial revolution at the turn of XVIII and XIX centuries. The revolution was caused by a switch from handcraft production to mechanical factory production on the grand scale. With the industrial revolution came rapid development of science and technology, and also many inventions like Watt’s steam engine, voltaic pile, electromagnetic telegraph. The industrial style is characterized by simplicity, modest forms and a sparing use of  materials. Buildings constructed in this style distinguish themselves, first of all, by functionality - as they are to be comfortable and cheap to use. Although the industrial style is characterized by utilitarianism - railway stations, railway objects and residential buildings for railway employees fascinate with their simplicity of form, and also with a modest design of the facade, drawing the inspiration for its forms from gothic or Romanesque architecture style (cornices, pilasters, friezes, pilaster strips, arc-crowned vaults, windows framed with arcades and windowsills.) Building’s facades at the goods station didn’t differ in terms of style from other buildings situated at Vienna Railroad.
Linesman’s houses, residential buildings for railway employees and warehouses at the station DŻWW in the late 1870s and 1880s were very modest and they served utilitarian purpose therefore simplicity was completely intentional.


In the logistics office, its simple form calls attention to wooden decoration with vertical peak crowned with pinnacles, which is characteristic for neo-Russian style in architecture of the Russian Empire. This style, also known as “the Ropet”(in Polish: “styl ropetowski”  thanks to its popularizer, archtect J.P Ropet, alluded to the style of old, richly decorated wooden buildings of Great Russia. We can find elements of this style in the railway architecture of Eastern Poland.


Inspiring influence of Russian architecture on railway’s buildings in Warsaw expresses itself fully in Kowel Railway Station of Vistula River Railroad, build in 1877 and situated in the area today occupied by Dworzec Gdański railway station.  This building was a typical example of Russian presentable architecture of the late 19th century. It was built of logs with emphasis on decorative components. The shuttering was made of decoratively carved ledges. Buildings in this style usually had a gabled rafter roof with pinnacles at the top.


Kowel Railway Station in Warsaw on Vistula River Railroad Kowel-Warsaw-Mława- Gdańsk, 1877
Destroyed during the First World War. In its place was built Dworzec Gdański (Gdansk Railway Station)


In the design of logistics office at the goods station, we can see the influence of the then prevailing trends in the area. Warsaw, situated in the western part of the Russian occupied territories of Poland, reveals in railway architecture influences of both industrialized West, as well as wooden, decorative elements of Russian origin.


Part of the office’s building survived until the post-war period. In the mid 60s, while widening Towarowa street and building a second lane, it was demolished.





Two warehouses were situated perpendicularly to the logistics office, one used to receive wares, the other to send them out. Between them tracks were laid. The model of a railroad warehouse that crystallised in the 19th century in Europe was characterized by an elongated, rectangular outline with loading docks and a big overhang that protected the goods and people from rain. The length of the warehouses was adapted to be able to take in as many freight wagons as possible, to either load or unload them. Warehouses usually had one storey with the floor on the level of the loading docks, its facade fitted with factory windows, sliding two-wing metal door, and reinforced wooden door.


As seen on the station design dated from 1876: "the warehouses weren't directly adjacent to the logistics office. These three stand-alone buildings were a part of a U-shaped complex with its arms drawn open, away from the base. Both these buildings were identical in size and construction. They were 143 metres long and 12 metres wide, each one was an elongated, one-story rectangle, built with red brick, and of little architectural detail. To ensure efficient carriage flow between the buildings, a transfer carriage was installed. It enabled moving empty carriages from the incoming goods warehouse to the outgoing goods warehouse.


"The warehouse had double rectangular windows. The facade is symmetrical and multi-axis. It's covered by a pitched roof with an overhang over the loading docks. The roof was usually covered with roofing felt - known and used since about 1850, called the asphalt board. The warehouses were divided into three parts by brick walls with sliding doors (as a means of fire safety). At both ends of the warehouse, offices for the wagon staff were situated. In the south, on the axis of the northern warehouse, a square lavatory was built." (E. Leszczyńska, "Zabudowa Stacji Towarowej Kolei Warszawsko-Wiedeńskiej oraz Tymczasowy Dworzec Główny - rys historyczny", Warszawa, str. 2).


Nowadays the building has been renovated and plastered. From 1900 to 1903 another warehouse was built onto its axis, same in size and construction. The station design from 1903 shows a slight distance between them. Back then they weren't connected to each other, they were separate warehouses. Today they're one, connected string of buildings. The first one holds a small exposition room of the Railway Museum, offices, the Mirrors Hall (in the 50s and 60s the station's restaurant), and workshops. The second, more recent of the former warehouse buildings from 1903 holds the Museum's boiler house and other facilities that belong to PKP (Polish State Railways).


The west side of the warehouse had served in the post-war period as a waiting room; in 1999 it was deconstructed. Similar red-brick warehouses with wooden roofs were also present at stations in Żyrardów, Skierniewice, and Częstochowa.



Other buildings of the Warsaw-Vienna Railroad Station


At the goods station, parallel to the warehouses, were tracks used for direct mass trans-shipment (lime, coal, bricks) from carriages to horsecars. A gate hoist, built over one of the tracks, was used to transport big or heavy wares. Parallel to it, about 20 metres further, was a 98m by 10m grain warehouse. (Noted by A. Paszke)


"It was a canopy with brick underpinning and a wooden deck. The pitched roof was covered with asphalt board. Commercial buildings on the station also consisted of two forward-sideward loading docks with a ramp used for freight hauling, and an animal pen, both built where the Okopowa and Kolejowa street met. West of the objects, buildings for administration and railroad workers were situated. They consisted of a household for railroad workers whose job focused around the circular railway. It was located on Kolejowa street." (E. Leszczyńska op. cit. w przyp. 1).


The water tower and the steam locomotive shed of the Warsaw-Vienna Railroad goods station, 1876


"West of the warehouses, near Tunelowa street, coal dumps and a big steam locomotive shed with an engine house were located, as seen on the picture above. It was built as a 104m by 43m rectangle with 36 parking spaces accessible by two transfer carriages. Next to the steam locomotive shed there were a railway turntable  and a carriage maintenance point with a water crane (a similar one, able to pump 150 litres per minute, can be seen in the Railroad Museum.) In the past such cranes were present in all of the bigger railway stations, they were used to fill the steam locomotives with water. Besides that there were an inspection station and a carburisation deck in the back. All that was accompanied by a water station with a water tower (as seen on the picture above.) There also were a supervisor office, a forge, a carpentry, magazines, and rooms where lamps were cleaned. A coal dump caretaker's house was also there; it was a one-storey, rectangular, red-brick building with arching windows and a pitched roof. The building that was the furthest from Towarowa street was the railroad workers' night quarters located amongst parks. It was two-storey, rectangular and built from red brick as well. The whole station was located about a metre lower than the general railroad tracks, but evenly leveled terrain made it impossible for carriages to meet; in the 19th century they weren’t equipped with brakes. Construction of the new goods station of Warsaw-Vienna Railroad was a big undertaking. Its size can be proved by the fact that on the occupied territory there were laid over 15 km of tracks and nearly 100 turnouts, including - for the first time  in Poland, the so-called three English crossovers  (English crossover - a crossroads of tracks from two directions, from which you can go in two different directions). The light was brought to all relevant areas of the station. There were 42 light points powered by gas provided from gas plant in Solec. Over the years the station was continuously expanded.

The first expansion started in 1880, until the turn of the century occupied area increased by a further squares situated at Okopowa north and west of Tunelowa street. At the same time  the number and length of tracks significantly increased - eg. in the area of  expeditionary warehouses number of tracks has increased from 9 to 21. The new tracks were arranged on, among other places, the newly utilised space   along Okopowa street, also on the terrain formerly occupied by coal warehouses, moved over Tunelowa street. To make it possible for the trains from the main railroad to go directly to the Circular Rail, an arc-shaped supplementary track was constructed over the western part of a village named Czyste. The great changes that happened over the first 25 years of the freight station existence tell us about the rapid increase of traffic, serving the increasing number of client both sending and receiving goods, in Warsaw.  Also worth noticing is the fact, that the freight station with its sidetracks and the industrial district Wola has become over the years, depended on each other.  (A. Paszke, „Dworce Drogi Żelaznej Warszawsko-Wiedeńskiej”, Oddział I, Warszawa – Skierniewice 1845-19120, Warsaw 1986, p. 11-12.).


Due to construction of Circural Railway and railway bridge near the Citadel, the goods station as well as Wiedeński railway station of standard gauge Warsaw-Vienna Railroad were connected with broad gauged Warsaw-St.Petersburg railroad and Warsaw-Terespol railroad, which were situated on the right bank of the Vistula river. Between 1905-1908 next to the railway bridge a second bridge was built in the distance of 32 m. The upper level also had two tracks of both width. Lower levels of both bridges were destined for road traffic and pedestrians.



Main Railway Station at Towarowa 3 street (1945-1972)


Between 1903-1914 and during the inter-war period the goods station was expanded to the north. New sidetracks, ramps, and warehouses were built. The station went through many transformations as the second line of cross-town rail was under construction in 1933. During the Second World War many railway objects in Warsaw were destroyed.


The only railway objects, which survived both World Wars retaining their usability, were buildings of the former goods station of the Warsaw-Vienna Railroad, situated at Towarowa street. In 1945 in order to restore the communication in destroyed city, fast and provisional reconstruction of railway and railway buildings has began. In January (1945) the Wileński railway station in Praga borough was opened. Waiting hall for travelers and staff area were made in makeshift barracks. Under similar conditions Warszawa Wschodnia (Warsaw East) railway station. Railway bridge near the Citadel was hurriedly rebuilt. First trains departed across the Vistula river in February 1945.


On the left bank of the Vistula river construction of Warszawa Zachodnia (Warsaw West) railway station started. It was also decided to build the  Provisional Central Station, adapting warehouses of the former goods station of the Warsaw-Vienna Railroad at Towarowa 1 street for this purpose. The warehouse area of use ranged 1600 m2. There were organized waiting rooms and rooms for staff.


The Main Railway Station, suburban train with steam locomotive class Okl27 with compartment coaches.


There was one platform and two arriving-departing tracks. Provisional railway station was opened for passengers on 2.07.1945. At eleven o’clock the first train departed to Skierniewice. Next day, 21 trains have departed.




At the same time, construction of a departure hall at the temporary station was started. The hall has been merged with the existing old warehouse complex. „The construction started in November 1945. According to engineer Tadeusz Mazurek, one of the station's designers, the construction took 800 000 bricks, 300 tons of concrete, 100 tons of lime and 250 cubic meters of wood. The whole cost of the construction amounted 50.700 000 PLN. On July 12th 1946, 10 days before the deadline,  a grand opening of Temporary Main Railway Station at Towarowa 3 took place.

A blessing was performed by the Parson of st. Jacob's Church, Father Prelate Stanisław Mystkowski. The station was designed in the Buldings' Board of the Communications' Ministry (now succeeded by Ministry of Infrastructure). The station's head designer was engineer Wiktor Ballogh. His team included engineers T. Mazurek and W. Borsuk. They were also aided by engineer Walenty Broda, a constructor of wooden ceilings of his own, unique design (E. Leszczyńska, "Zabudowa Stacji Towarowej Kolei Warszawsko-Wiedeńskiej oraz Tymczasowy Dworzec Główny - rys historyczny", Warsaw, p 3).    


The Temporary Main Railway Station's grand opening by Minister of Communications Jan Rabanowski, July 12th 1946


Platforms of the Temporary Main Station at Towarowa 3, 1950s.



Wiktor Ballogh, Engineer of Architecture, deserves special attention. It is due to the fact he received a high quality formal education in the best traditions of Polish interwar architecture. In these traditions, he found a constant inspiration for his projects and design.


Wiktor Ballogh (1894-1970) – main designer of the Main Railway Station's departure hall


Wiktor Ballogh was born in 1894 in Kamieniec Podolski (Now Kamyanets Podilskyi, Ukraine). In 1929 he graduated from the Warsaw University of Technology Architecture Faculty with a degree in archictectural engineering (inżynier architekt). He wrote his thesis under professor Czesław Przybylski, (the designer of interwar Main Railway Station at Aleje Jerozolimskie).


Wiktor Ballogh's diploma at the Warsaw University of Technology


Wiktor Ballogh received his education under the masters of Polish modernism. The style's influence is clearly seen in the architecture of the departure hall of the former Main Railway Station at Towarowa 3. Currently it houses one of the exhibition halls of Station: Museum.

The building distinguishes itself with its panache and large interior. The architect put emphasis on a function it was supposed to perform, and did not consider ornaments as important.

The building's roofing was designed in a characteristic shape of an arc. The vault is made of wood.

Another example of the pre-war architectural school Wiktor Ballogh was educated in, is the building of Ateneum Theatre (Teatr Ateneum) in Warsaw Powiśle district, designed by him in 1951.


The principles of arch. Wiktor Ballogh – as the designer for Main Railway Station – were supposed to fulfill the following criteria:

-It was to be a terminal station, with side pavilions constructed from existing warehouses, and a pavilion for the rail terminus, built from scratch, connecting the side pavilions

-Tracks for long-distance departures were to be located between the side pavilions.


Plan of the Warsaw Main Railway Station, 1947


The new terminus was situated west to the warehouse that had been there since 1875, and had  remained relatively unscathed through the war. The space of train station hall inside the pavilion ranged 600 square meters, 15 meters in width and 11 meters in height. Two entrances lead to the hall: south (the main entrance) from the side of the vehicle stand, and north (secondary entrance). 10 ticket booths were placed inside the hall, along with two kiosks, haircut salon, the reception, staff-only area and restrooms. 

Both in the north and the south entrance, two mezzanines were constructed, ranging 150 square meters each. The southern one contained a reading space, the northern one a dining hall.

The whole volume of the building ranged 8000 cubic meters.


Departure hall design for Main Railway Station by Wiktor Ballogh – a longitudinal section, 1947.


The station's main hall (the terminus) was planned on a north-south oriented rectangle. The terminus had three levels. A ground-level flat-roof annex was adjacent to the east, two side wings on an outline of prolonged rectangles: a longer north one and a shorter south one (the former freight station warehouses) and a sideways walkway.


Southern entrance to the Main Railway Station

(on the right: the former Warsaw-Vienna freight station warehouse)


„The terminus, with plastered brick walls, was strengthened by a reinforced column, connecting with a crown made of reinforced concrete.” (E. Leszczyńska, "Zabudowa Stacji Towarowej Kolei Warszawsko-Wiedeńskiej oraz Tymczasowy Dworzec Główny - rys historyczny", Warszawa, p. 3).

The main hall was covered by a round roof. „The flat roof is constructed from steel, wooden and arched profiles and tie-beams (dr hab. prof. Stanisław Januszewski, „Opinia o wartościach historyczno-technicznych dawnej stacji kolejowej Warszawa Główna Towarowa (Warszawa Główna Osobowa), infrastruktury kolejowej, budowli i budynków”, Polski Komitet TICCIH).

„The front and northern facade of the terminus had roofed, two-parted entrances, led into by stairs. Entrances led through doors on an 8 axis, on the other levels doors were on an 9 axis. Between the windows, columns were fit into a crowned segmental arch, as the only vertical element in the façade. The windows of the first and second level are rectangle-shaped, with the exception of the peak area, where they are crowned by a segmental arc. (E. Leszczyńska, "Zabudowa Stacji Towarowej Kolei Warszawsko-Wiedeńskiej oraz Tymczasowy Dworzec Główny - rys historyczny", Warszawa, p. 3).


Main Railway Station, main hall with the ticket booths, second half of the 1940s.


The design of Main Railway Station Hall is rooted in Polish inter-war modernism. It is however an example of a more rigorous variant of the style - functionalism. Similar to modernism, it avoids decorating buildings with any ornaments. It is however a more narrow term, which excludes any diversion from the architectural principles of simplicity and functionality.





„The side pavilions partially kept the design and construction features of the old buildings. Their eastern ends were brought down to create space for new train station hall. It is hard to estimate, when the two northern warehouses were merged in the way, that made one of the arms of U-letter arrangement two times longer. Perhaps it was only in 1946 that a single building was formed from the warehouse built in 1875 and the one from 1903. Both of the old buildings, the northern and the southern, were widened in the eastern part. They went under complete renovation and had been adapted for performing their new function. The architect strived to give the whole building complex a unified architectural appearance” (E. Leszczyńska, "Zabudowa Stacji Towarowej Kolei Warszawsko-Wiedeńskiej oraz Tymczasowy Dworzec Główny - rys historyczny", Warszawa, p. 3).


The northern pavilion, (marked with a letter „a” on the plans from 1947) was adapted from two warehouses (one from 1875, the other from 1903), merged into one building with its space ranging 2000 square meters. The eastern side of the building has been widened. From the side of the platform, the roof features were kept intact, with its wide eaves, reaching far over the front side of the wall, supported by wooden corbels. The pavilion had one floor, with a multi-axis facade. The industrial-type windows in the eastern part, vaulted by a segmented arch were most likely replaced by rectangular windows.

Along the northern façade, the ramp was most likely widened, creating the station train platform.


The overhanged roof upon the former ramp (currently the train platform at Station: Museum) view of the northern pavilion from the south, 2010.


The pavilion at that time contained a waiting hall, luggage storage, a room for luggage sending, dining hall with a kitchen, customs office, rail MO station (Milicja Obywatelska - Civic Militia, an equivalent of police during the communist regime), post office, staff rooms and a boiler room for central heating, powered by a steam engine.


The south pavilion (marked with the letter „b” on the plans from 1947), ranging 1600 square meters, was adapted from warehouses built around 1875. Its pitched roof was kept. The southern facade, in the semi-basement, had a brick ramp used for freight hauling. The windows in its southern facade were rectangular shaped. The eastern part of the building had two floors. In the building, a waiting hall was made for suburban traffic. Also, luggage storage, a sanitary facility and rooms for administration were constructed. The western part of the building there was an office for the station attendants. The building was demolished in 1999.


The warehouse from 1903 kept its original prism, some changes were made nonetheless. For example, some windows were replaced by those in rectangular shape, façades were raised on the walls. However, a large number of original windows have been kept from replacement. They are industrial-type steel windows, with minute segmentations, closed by a segmented arch.


Original industrial-type windows, part of the northern pavilion from 1903, photo made in 2010.





„Between the side pavilions and outside the south pavilion three groups of dead end tracks and platforms were placed. The first group of three tracks and three side platforms (two one edged and one island), made for dispatching the long-distance trains was placed between the side pavilions.

The side platforms were connected by a bay platform, in front of the main hall. South of the long-distance tracks, three tracks and two platforms for the suburban rail were placed. South of them in turn, five tracks and three platforms were built for both long-distance and suburban rail.

They reached passages placed at the exit to the vehicle stand. The pavement lead the passengers to bus and tram stops on Towarowa street. There was no separate hall for arrivals. Luggage halls were entered directly from the street. The luggage was hauled back to the luggage hall the quickest way, without disturbing the flow of passengers.” (M. Krajewski, “Dzieje Głównego Dworca Kolejowego w Warszawie”, PWN, Warszawa 1971).


Exit into town from the arrival platforms on the Main Railway Station, 1985


„Construction of the train station constituted an effort made to solve the problem of communication with Warsaw after the war. The main objective for the designers and construction teams was to organise an architectural arrangement friendly to the workers and passengers.” (E. Leszczyńska, "Zabudowa Stacji Towarowej Kolei Warszawsko-Wiedeńskiej oraz Tymczasowy Dworzec Główny - rys historyczny", Warszawa, p. 4).


In the years 1948-1950 the station was attended by 100, sometimes even 120 trains every 24 hours.

On long distance rail, trains went to Cracow, Katowice, Wroclaw, Poznan, Łódź, Szczecin, Gdansk and Bydgoszcz. Suburban rail served trains to Warka, Sochaczew and Żyrardów.


Inside of the temporary Main Railway Station was accommodated for a large flow of passengers, practical floors made of terazzo were laid out, while the walls were laid with terracotta.

In 1953, some rooms at the station were adorned.


Since that time, two stucco reliefs have remained. Most likely they were found in the chief station officer cabinet in the northern mezzanine. The reliefs, a work of socialist realism by sculptor H. Tarkowski present workers with their work tools as their attributes. Between them, a fresco is placed, showing the panoramic view of Warsaw.


Adornments found in the former bureau of the Chief Station Officer, reliefs and fresco, photo made in 2010





In 1955, changes were made in the arrangement of the station compartments, the station itself went through expansion and modernisation. Because of the organisation of World Festival of Youth and Students in Warsaw, a part of the station's northern wing was remade into a first-class restaurant, maintained by Kolejowe Zakłady Gastronomiczne (Railway Restaurant Facilities).


Restaurant hall in the Main Railway Station, 1955


The station restaurant (today the so-called Mirrors Hall) was designed over the outline of a rectangle, with three pairs of the columns in two lines, supporting a plafond lamp. The columns had round shafts, supported by square bases. Opposite the windows four large mirrors were placed, reflecting the window light, adorned by a decorative stucco strapwork. Niches under the windows and mirrors were covered with an over-work, metal balustrade. The friese on the wall contained coats of arms of various Polish cities, along with plant-shaped ornaments. Over the main entrance, a fresco was made, showing the symbolic representations of zodiac signs, fit into a rectangle with a round clock in the shape of a sun in the center. In the entrance of the restaurant there was a cloakroom and a restroom.


A fresco with a clock over the Mirrors Hall entrance, photo made in 2010


The current compartment of the former station restaurant, called the Mirrors Hall, performs a representative function. The walls are covered by an ornamental fabric. On the wall, between the mirrors and windows, stylish candelabras hang. Lamps, lined with golden stucco plant-shaped adornments, provide additional lighting. Important celebrations and various types of events are held there – conferences, seminaries, book signings, concerts. The hall also occasionally serves as a location for movies and tv series.


Mirrors Hall, 2010


In 1955, the Temporary Main Railway Station was further expanded. That year, a building for governmental reception was opened, its main function was to receive foreign delegations.

The building, along with a separate square for arrivals, was designed by the engineer S. Cybulski.

It was separated from Towarowa street and from the train station by a wall, and situated on terrain bordering the cross-town line. It was entered directly from platform 7, serving trains of special and diplomatic importance.


Platform seven, where trains with foreign delegations arrived.


„It was a one-floor building, constructed on a rectangular outline, with two columns on the entrance sides. The facade was laid with sandstone, which broke the wall monotony with its diverse texture and slab arrangement. A one-track interior was accommodated for the flow of the guest in the east-west direction. The representative hall was richly adorned, with a stylised floral-patterned friese on its ceiling and an ornamental tapestry on its walls. Over the lounge entrance, there were frescos with sirens and eagles sitting on rocks. (E. Leszczyńska, "Zabudowa Stacji Towarowej Kolei Warszawsko-Wiedeńskiej oraz Tymczasowy Dworzec Główny - rys historyczny", Warszawa, p. 5).


Reception building, 1980s


The inside of the building was equipped with a full set of artistic furniture, now a part of the Station: Museum collection.


Furniture from the governmental reception building, 2010


Representatives of Polish and foreign authorities of the time were received at the building.

The building operated from 1955 to 1975, until the Central Railway Station was constructed.

In the period between 1991 and 1999 it was home to the bureau of „Polres” (a ticket reservations company). The building was demolished along with the south pavilion, since liquidation of the whole railway station was in order.





The freight station, then still working under the Main Railway Station at Towarowa was liquidated in 1961, in order to widen the Towarowa street and provide space for the construction a main street (Towarowa-Pl. Zawiszy – Raszyńska). Until the 1960s there were no construction works of greater importance at the station. Only in 1964 the General Directory Board of State Railways in Warsaw led the station through an overhaul. The partial overhaul was designed by engineer Stanisław Kułakowski. Unfortunately, a logistics office of historical value was demolished. A façade was plastered on the terminus building. Advertisements were placed on a wall from the side of Towarowa street, rented to the PZU (insurance state company). 

„At that time, both mezzanines in the main hall went through an overhaul. The northern one was accommodated for a club, while the southern one was accommodated for offices. The hall's western part underwent modernisation, creating glass kiosks with flowers, souvenirs and press. An important element, serving to raise the aesthetic quality of the hall's interior, was laminated wood paneling, protecting the walls from dirt. Exits to the platforms were changed, cash registries for ticket reservations and suburban rail were carried over to the southern pavilion, a separate booth for travelling information was created. The station received a whole new system of lighting.

Also, new passages to the platforms were created through liquidating the ticket booths.

An important aspect of the 1964-1965 overhaul was the decoration of the main hall” (E. Leszczyńska, "Zabudowa Stacji Towarowej Kolei Warszawsko-Wiedeńskiej oraz Tymczasowy Dworzec Główny - rys historyczny", Warsaw, p. 5). Over the northern entrance, colorful photograms were placed, presenting a panoramic view of Warsaw.


Fragment of a photogram over the main hall's northern entrance, 2010, photo: M. Brzomiński


Over the southern entrance a socialist realist fresco was placed. It represented various forms of transport: trains, planes, ships, and people working on them – railway workers, pilots, and sailors.


Fragment of a fresco over the main hall southern entrance.


The station at Towarowa was designed as a temporary station, yet it operated as a Main Railway Station for over 40 years, and has become a memorable place for the citizens of Warsaw. It has been a symbol for Warsaw, with its unforgettable „WARSZAWA GŁÓWNA” neon over the city landscape. The station's dining hall played a great role in the everyday life of the citizens.

It was the only dining hall – besides „ the Zieleniak” operating 24/7, at the time when the capital's only night restaurant was „the Kameralna”. A sort of a direct line functioned between the station and the Kameralna. When the latter closed for the night and its last clients had to leave, horse and taxi cabs carried them directly to the Main Station, where they could continue their socialising.

Around 5 am, at the station, one could meet quite a number of artistic celebrities of the time.

A citizen of Warsaw, asked about memories concerning the Main Railway Station, relates:

„The bar at the Main Station, was it a legendary place! Worked around the clock! A lot of parties ended right here, at the station. One could order a beer if thirsty, and some fried meat, if hungry.

It was a place to wait through the night for those who missed their trains.  Then, at the station bar,    they could order a soup and some meat and wait for the first train home in the morning.

You could meet a whole mix of faces there – well known celebrities as well as the more nasty types.”


The Main Railway Station appears in the work of some of the best Polish writers – among them Leopold Tyrmand, Tadeusz Konwicki, Marek Nowakowski. The station is also mentioned in songs, among them „Niedziela na Głównym” („Sunday at the Main”) by Wojciech Młynarski.


Relaxing the best way- Sunday at the Main

The work leaves you drained – Sunday at the Main

When things get too hard and all friends are away – you can always spend the Sunday at the Main! (original text by W. Młynarski)


A buffet at the Main Railway Station, 1969


Construction of the Central Railway Station started in 1972. At the same time, decision was made about the reopening of Railway Museum in Warsaw and locating it in the buildings of Main Station at Towarowa, whose activity at the time was at a decline.


Written by Beata Zofia Młynarska