Istanbul’s Tünel (Underground)

Inaugurated on January 17, 1875 after having been designed and built by French engineers, Istanbul‘s Tünel is the second-oldest underground train in the world (after London’s, 1863).

The Tünel allowed European diplomats and businessmen to ride between their waterside offices in Karaköy (Galata) on the Golden Horn and their hilltop residences in Beyoğlu(Pera)(map) on steam-powered, gas-lit, cable-drawn cars—in 90 seconds.

For over a century it was Istanbul’s only underground train.

Although the city has now completed several lines of its far-flung Metro system (click here for a map of the system), and the Tünel‘s wonderful old 19th-century lacquered-wood cars were replaced by boring modern metal cars in the 1970s, and again by even newer cars in 2009, the Tünel is still a convenient way to climb (or descend) the steep slope between Karaköy Square and Tünel Square.

Istanbul Train Tunnel
The aptly-named Tünel

Here is fare info.

As there are only two stations, you won’t get lost.

The Tünel operates from about 06:00 am until 22:00 (10 pm). I don’t know for sure. I went to the English-language version of the IETT website’s Tünel section in March 2014 to look up the times. The website has all sorts of moving, flashing, sliding graphics on it, and it gives you lots of interesting historical facts about transport in Istanbul, but it doesn’t tell you the times that services operate, or the fares.

Timetable page, Tünel, Istanbul, Turkey
Here’s the Timetables page: eye-catching graphics, buttons to enlarge or reduce the text, Facebook ‘Like” buttons, etc.—but no timetable information. I particularly like the “Back to Top” button.

—by Tom Brosnahan


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