Sirkeci Terminal

Istanbul Sirkeci Terminal ( Turkish: Sirkeci Garı) is a terminus main station of the Turkish State Railways (TCDD) in Sirkeci, on the European part of Istanbul, Turkey. International, domestic and regional trains running westwards depart from this station which was inaugurated as the terminus of the Orient Express.

After the Crimean War, the Ottoman authorities concluded that a railway connecting Europe with Istanbul was necessary. The first contract was signed with Labro, a British member of parliament, in January 1857. The contract was cancelled three months later because Labro was unable to provide the investment capital required. Similar second and third contracts signed with British and Belgian entrepreneurs in 1860 and 1868 ended with the same result. On April 17, 1869, the concession for the "Rumeli Railroad" was awarded to Baron Maurice de Hirsch (Moritz Freiherr Hirsch auf Gereuth), a Bavaria-born banker from Belgium. The project foresaw a route from Istanbul via Edirne, Plovdiv and Sarajevo to the shore of the Sava River. The construction of the first 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) from Istanbul to Halkalı began on June 4, 1870, and was completed on January 4, 1871. An extension of the line to Sirkeci was demanded as the starting point since Yeşilköy was too far away from Eminönü, the main business district of that epoch. The first proposed option for the line was a route from Beyazit down to the shore of the Golden Horn. The Ottoman Sultan Abdülaziz decided and permitted the route to run on the shoreline of the Sea of Marmara bordering the walls of Topkapı Palace’s lower garden. The extension line was completed on July 21, 1872. In 1873, a "temporary" terminus station in Sirkeci was built.

The terminal building
The construction of a new terminal building began on February 11, 1888. The terminus, which was initially named "Müşir Ahmet Paşa Station", was opened on November 3, 1890, replacing the temporary one. The architect of the project was August Jachmund, a Prussian who was sent to Istanbul by the German government in order to study Ottoman architecture, but lectured architectural design at the School of Polytechnics in Istanbul (now Istanbul Technical University). The terminal building which rises on an area of 1,200 m 2 (13,000 sq ft) is one of the most famous examples of European Orientalism, and has influenced the designs of other architects. The building was also modern, having gas lighting and heating in winter. The terminal restaurant became a meeting point for journalists, writers and other prominent people from the media in the 1950s and 1960s. The same restaurant, today called "Orient Express", is a popular spot among tourists. The current station is preserved in its original state, but the areas around the terminal building have largely changed since 1890. Members of the Mevlevi Dervish order regularly conduct ceremonies at Sirkeci Terminal, which tourists and other members of the public can observe for an admission fee.

International lines
The terminal constitutes the main connection node of the Turkish railway network with the rest of Europe. The two main lines of connection are provided by the line running between Istanbul and Thessaloniki, Greece, and the Bosphorus Express serving daily between Sirkeci and Gara de Nord in Bucharest, Romania. Connections to Sofia and Belgrade are established with wagons attached to the Bosphorus Express train.

Orient Express
On October 4, 1883, the first voyage of the Orient Express departed from Gare de l'Est in Paris, France, with farewell music from Mozart’s Turkish March. The train was a project of Belgian businessman Georges Nagelmackers. The route passed through Strasbourg, Karlsruhe, Stuttgart, Ulm, and Munich in Germany, Vienna in Austria, Budapest in Hungary, Bucharest in Romania, Rousse and Varna in Bulgaria ending in Sirkeci. The travel took 80 hours for the 3,094 kilometers. The direct Orient Express stopped running on May 19, 1977, and the Orient Express via Vienna was cut back and terminated at Budapest and later only to Vienna. With the opening in 2007 of a new high-speed line from Paris to Strasbourg, the Orient Express was cut again to run from Strasbourg to Vienna, before finally being withdrawn in 2009 after over 130 years. This is not to be confused with the Venice Simplon Orient Express, a luxury tourist train utilising restored coaches used during the 1930s. The VSOE still makes one journey per year to Istanbul, but mostly travels between Calais and Venice.


Public transport links

  • Suburban train Sirkeci-Halkalı
  • Several bus lines
  • Tram Kabataş- Zeytinburnu
  • Ferryboat Sirkeci- Kabataş
  • Sea bus Sirkeci- Bostancı- Adalar
  • Car-ferryboat Sirkeci- Harem
  • Train-ferryboat Sirkeci Terminal- Haydarpaşa Terminal (not passenger use)
  • Nearby Eminönü (200 m distance) has ferries to Kadıköy and Üsküdar

Previous Service Next Terminus Dostluk/Filia Express Alpullu Towards Thessaloniki Terminus Bosphorus Express Alpullu Towards Bucharest Terminus Balkans Express Alpullu Towards Belgrade Terminus Ä°stanbul-Uzunköprü Regional Halkalı Towards Uzunköprü Terminus Ä°stanbul-Kapıkule Regional Halkalı Towards Kapıkule Terminus Ä°stanbul-Çerkezköy Regional Ispartakule Towards Çerkezköy Terminus Ä°stanbul-Halkalı Commuter Line Cankurtaran Towards Halkalı


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