The São Bento Railway Station (Portuguese: Estação Ferroviária de São Bento) is a 20th-century railway station in the civil parish of Cedofeita, Santo Ildefonso, Sé, Miragaia, São Nicolau e Vitória, in the municipality of Porto, district of Porto.
In 1887, José Maria Ferreira and António Júlio Machado, alderman, presented to the municipal council a project for a Central Station in Porto, elaborated Hippolyte de Bare. The following year, Emídio Navarro, Minister of Public Works, authorized the construction a line of railway between Campanhã and a central station, which would be established in the proximity of Praça de D. Pedro.
The final decision would be to erect the station on the site of the Benedictine Convent of São Bento da Avé Maria, which had been ordered built by King D. Manuel I of Portugal in 1518. But, the monastery fell victim of a fire in 1783, was later rebuilt, but was in a grave state of disrepair at the end of the 19th century.
The project was entrusted to Porto architect José Marques da Silva, who designed a building under the influence of French Beaux-Arts architecture.
In 1890, work on the tunnel proceeded, and lasted until its conclusion in 1893. The first train arrived at the station in São Bento in 1896, where Marques da Silva presented his final course for the central station railway in Porto. But, tragedy: in 1897, there was a landslide at the opening to the tunnel to southern edge of the station. The work on the northern wharf was concluded. By the following year, the tunnel was completed.
Work on constructing a station along the angle of Praça Almeida Garret and Rua da Madeira began in 1900. The cornerstone was placed by King D. Carlos I. In 1901, the administrative commission for the railway, adjudicated the work on the station, which was expanded to also act as a postal station. The project was approved in 1903, and its execution was initiated the following year. The work to erect a metallic awning on the wharf to protect commerce. The azulejos of the atrium were fabricated by the Fábrica de Sacavém. The station was inaugurated on October 5, 1916.
In September 1988, a dispatch authorized the beginning of a process to classify the property. First steps to renovate the site began in 1992, with work on the facades, recuperation of the boxes and ceiling, that included work on the station and exterior illumination.
In October 2016, Porto Vivo-Sociedade de Reabilitação Urbana ordered that public work in constructing a hostel on the lateral facade of the station should be stopped, until an official request for licensing was obtained. The company responsible for the installation of was F2IS – Consultadora e Gestão de Projectos, who finally submitted on 17 October.
The station is located in the historic centre, occupying a large space delimited by the Praça Almeida Garrett, Rua da Madeira and Rua do Loureiro, as well as the escarpment of Batalha, where a tunnel has been carved into the hill.
The symmetrical, three-story, granite building has a “U”-shaped plan, with its principal facade oriented to the southwest. A building of geometric rigor, it has a central corp corresponding to the principal atrium and on either extreme two volume. The central body has strong architrave cornice over corbels, with dense repetitive rhythm that covers the whole building. Rounding the facade, is a robust frame with similar fenestrations, while the lateral facades maintain a relation between span symmetry, content and decoration.
The vestibule is framed by pilasters, covered in azulejo tile. Near the ceiling, is a blue and gold frieze decorated with stylized flowers, while below them is another polychromatic frieze, evocative of the history of the road in Portugal. Below the friezes are large azulejo “paintings” representing historical events in Portuguese history. The azulejo are integrated into the architecture by frames in granite which decorate the lines of the atrium.
São Bento is the main terminus of Porto’s suburban railways lines and western terminus for the scenic Douro line between Porto and Pocinho. All trains leaving Sao Bento call at Campanhã as their next station.
The station is near vintage tram line 22 and is connected to São Bento Metro Station on Metro line D.