İstanbul Sirkeci Terminal

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Sirkeci Terminal
Bahnhofsfront-Istanbul-Sirkeci retouched.jpg
The front facade of the station
Station statistics
Address Sirkeci İstasyonu Cad., Eminönü, İstanbul
Coordinates 41°00′54″N 28°58′38″E / 41.015000°N 28.977222°E / 41.015000; 28.977222Coordinates: 41°00′54″N 28°58′38″E / 41.015000°N 28.977222°E / 41.015000; 28.977222
Connections IETT tramway Line T1
IETT buses
Platforms 4
Tracks 5
Parking Yes
Baggage check Available for Amity Express, Bosphorus Express and Balkans Express
Other information
Opened 1890
Electrified 25 kV AC (1955)
Accessible Handicapped/disabled access
Owned by TCDD
Smart ticket Akbil, Istanbulkart
Preceding station   Turkish State Railways   Following station
toward Halkalı
İstanbul-Halkalı Line Terminus

Istanbul Sirkeci Terminal, also known as İstanbul 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[edit]

A lateral view of the Sirkeci terminal.
An interior view of the Sirkeci terminal.
Railroad tracks of the Sirkeci terminal.

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 Jasmund, 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 m2 (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[edit]

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[edit]

Main article: 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.[1]

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.[2]


Since May 2013 there are currently no international trains from Sirkeci terminal. For trains to Bulgaria only there is a replacement bus service to Çerkezköy from where train connection is possible.[3]

Turkish State Railways
Bosphorus Express
toward Bucharest
Balkans Express
toward Belgrade
İstanbul-Uzunköprü Regional
toward Uzunköprü
İstanbul-Kapıkule Regional
toward Kapıkule
İstanbul-Çerkezköy Regional
toward Çerkezköy
İstanbul-Halkalı Commuter Line
toward Halkalı

Public transport links[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]