Gare de Metz-Ville is the main railway station serving the city Metz, capital of Lorraine, France. Sometimes qualified as Train Station Palace as it displays the apartments of German Kaiser Wilhelm II, the Metz train station is registered as a historic monument since January 15, 1975. The facade, the roof, the departure hall, the honorary lounge, and the former train station restaurant with its interior decorations are then protected.
The railway station of Metz is a central point of a new urban planning for Metz built then during the first annexation of Metz by Otto von Bismarck into the German Empire. In order to germanify the city, Emperor Wilhelm II decided the creation of a new district shaped by a distinctive blend of Germanic architecture. The district was thought by German architect Conrad Wahn and is commonly called today the German imperial district of Metz.
The railway station of Metz is situated at the cornerstone of this district, near the city center. Its first aim was military usage and it had to answer to a strategic need: for the success of the Schlieffen plan, Kaiser Wilhelm II had to be able to transport his troops from France to Russia in only 24 hours. Then, the railway station is sizable and its platforms are very large in order to welcome troops on feet and on horses.
The railway station is a 350 meters long neo-Romanesque building built between 1905 and 1908 by German architect Jürgen Kröger, assisted by the architects Jürgensen and Bachmann as well as of the sculptor Schirmer. It was built in a pale grey Stoneware of Niderviller, what underlines the difference from the other buildings of the city of Metz, which are usually built in yellow limestone. Because of the swampy soil of the area, the station and its water tower set based on 3,034 pickets of foundation from ten to seventeen meters deep, realized in reinforced concrete following the process which had just finalized the French engineer François Hennebique.
The station echoes the shape of the church at the departure hall with the 40 meters high clock tower (said to be designed by Kaiser Wilhelm II himself) and an imperial palace at the arrivals hall and the station restaurant, which is a recall of the religious and temporal powers of the Holy Roman emperors. The statue of the Knight Roland at the angle of the clock tower represents the imperial protection over Metz. In the great hallway is depicted on a stained glass window, Emperor Charlemagne sitting on his throne. The Kaiser Wilhelm II appreciated his travels to Metz and the imperial territory of Alsace-Lorraine, which was administered directly by the imperial government in Berlin. So the railway station displays his apartments used during the visits of the emperor in the city and transformed now into offices for the SNCF Railway Company.
The parvise of the railway station is adorned with street furnitures designed by Philippe Starck.
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