Zurich Main Station (Zürich Hauptbahnhof often shortened to Zürich HB) is the largest railway station in Zurich and also in Switzerland. Zurich is a major railway hub, with services to and from across Switzerland and neighbouring European countries such as Germany, Italy, Austria and France. Constructed initially as the terminus of the Spanisch Brötli Bahn, which was the first railway built completely within Switzerland, it is one of the oldest railway stations in Switzerland.
Serving up to 2'915 train rides a day, Zurich Main Station is one of the busiest railway stations in the world. It is located in the Altstadt or old town in central Zurich at the confluence of the rivers Limmat and Sihl, where the river Sihl passes the station in a tunnel between the tracks of the upper and the lower level. The track system of the station extends about 4 km (2.5 mi) to the west. The station is inscribed on the Swiss Inventory of Cultural Property of National Significance.
The first Zurich railway station was built by Gustav Albert Wegmann, on what were then the northwestern outskirts of the city. It was the terminus of the so-called Spanisch-Brötli-Bahn, opened on 9 August 1847. Within five years, there was a continuous railway line from the station across northwestern Switzerland to Lausanne via Solothurn. In 1871, the original station building gave way to a new building at the same site. The new structure was designed by architect Jakob Friedrich Wanner to meet Zurich's increased transport needs. Its main entrance is a triumphal arch facing the end of the then newly built Bahnhofstrasse. In front of the arch stands a monument to the railway pioneer Alfred Escher.
The magnificent sandstone neo-Renaissance building features richly decorated lobbies and atriums, restaurants and halls. Originally housed inside it was the headquarters of the Schweizerische Nordostbahn (NOB). The train hall, spanned by iron trusses, initially covered six tracks. Its stone walls with arches and arched windows portrayed a simple, monumental impression of space.
The station received its present name, Zürich Hauptbahnhof, in 1893, to reflect that year's incorporation of many of Zurich's suburbs into an enlarged municipality. The Hauptbahnhof is one of the most important nodes of the Zurich tramway network. Due to its central location in Switzerland and in Europe, the station was quickly able to establish itself as an important railway junction. Most trains running through several European countries operated through Switzerland.