I am in the street before the train station of Ivano-Frankivsk. The dust and the concentration of exhaust gases is almost unbearable. To cross this street to reach the station is practically impossible unless I adopt a style of extreme maneuvering between transport vehicles. The combination of a suburban bus terminal with the railway station generates crowds of people carrying travelling bags, between which (the people and their luggage) it is necessary to be pushed through the entrance of the station and then to the relevant gate of a platform. Then another hundred steps though the tracks and finally to climb into the carriage and enter the desired coupe. Then change into a sporting outfit and to relax on a shelf.
But stop and look around, before an impenetrable wall – a few centimeters of metal of the carriage – appears between you and the city of Ivano-Frankivsk. You are leaving one of the oldest and most civilized stations in Ukraine. Before Kiev will pass another four long years until it will have a train station. At that moment Kiev was a regional tsarist city. And before Kiev in 1869 Kharkiv will receive its first train. And before Kharkiv – Stanislav will accept the first guests with a banquet, the passengers of the first train from Lviv to Chernivtsi.
Twelve hours, twelve unforgettable hours this train travelled from Lviv to Chernivtsi.
The year 1866 is fixed on a metal board (standard of artistic casting) high above the platforms. On 1st September of that year a train with a few hundred very intrigued Galicians drove out of Lviv for Chernivtsi. It passed through nine stations and everywhere local inhabitants welcomed the living locomotive. It was a spectacle! In Stanislav the train stood 47 hours. The management of the station arranged a true holiday for the gentry. The guests were served a breakfast. Twelve hours, twelve unforgettable hours this train travelled from Lviv to Chernivtsi. The first passenger train in the city of Stanislav! By the way, from the train station the first electrical illumination blazed up in the city. The railway knot at the beginning of the last century was regarded so powerful, comfortable and important that exactly in Stanislav and not in in competitive Lviv or Crakow the management decided to open a direction of the railway. A pompous and luxurious building was constructed, which presently houses the main corpus of the Academy of Medicine. Restaurants of old Stanislav.
The train station in Ivano-Frankivsk has changed since then, but not so much, as not to preserve the signs of our, let us say, not worst historical period. Indeed, the building has outlived two reconstructions, the first in 1886. The civilization development of Austria -Hungary, and in that composition of Galicia, demanded a widening of the railway. In other words, our small station did not respond to the demands of time. It was enlarged. The small building with elements in Mauritanian style (half-circular narrow windows, shortened columns that are completed by decorations in the form of turbans). On both sides of the original building a one-story wing was added. A dining room, administrative offices and a post section were added. Above the central entrance stood a sculpture of a winged goddess. Today she is regretfully not here anymore.
What prominence has the train station not received! On the platform walked the Austrian emperor France Joseph, the Ukrainian genial composer Mykola Lysenko and many, many Polish, Romanian, German and finally Ukrainian prominent personalities.
In the 30-ies at the railway station in Ivano-Frankivsk one could purchase a ticket to Vienna or Berlin.
One cannot state, that the civilization development of this transport knot continues further, only rather slower. One wants only to remark, that in the 30-ies here one could purchase a ticket to Vienna or Berlin. For the present inhabitant of Ivano-Frankivsk to reach such destinations it is considerably much harder than it was for his grandfather. However, he can reach St.Petersbug, Minsk and Peremysl without transferring trains. Daily stop 18 passenger trains in Ivano-Frankivsk. From here, one can without any problem reach destinations in the Carpathians. Have you already been there? Then you will come again.
Then you will not avoid meeting one of the oldest, nicest and most honorable railway stations of Ukraine. It is said that the European spirit did not succeed to evaporate from here.