Sirkeci (Istanbul) Station

Sirkeci Station (Sirkeci Gar) was Istanbul‘s historic terminus for trains from Edirne and Europe, designed by Prussian architect August Jasmund and inaugurated on February 11th, 1888 during the reign of Sultan Abdülhamid II.

Though officially named Istanbul Gar, everyone knows it as Sirkeci to differentiate it from Haydarpaşa Gar (1908), the newer terminus on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus.

Sirkeci is where the famed Orient Express ended its run from Paris, at this 19th-century Orientalist station near Seraglio Point beneath the walls of Topkapı Palace, right next to Eminönü, its ferry docks, and Galata Bridge.

With the opening of the Marmaray regional train line on October 29, 2013, Sirkeci Station took on a new purpose as an important stop on this cross-Bosphorus rail line.

European and Turkish-Thracian intercity trains no longer arrive and depart at Sirkeci. (The Bosphorus Express, connecting Istanbul with Bulgaria, Romania, central and western European countries, departs from Halkalı, 28 km [17 miles] west of Sirkeci.)

Even so, it’s a pleasure to stroll through the stationand imagine the famous 19th-century luxury train ariving in Constantinople with its eminent passengers being met by uniformed dragomans (guide-interpreters) from the great European embassies. More…

There’s a short history of the station on this page of the Turkish State Railways website.

The Sirkeci district is becoming known for its good—and good value—hotels and restaurants. More…

Buses and airplanes now carry more passengers between Istanbul and Europe than do trains.

However, the future looks bright for train travel within Turkey, however. New high-speed train lines connect IstanbulEskişehir, Ankara and Konya, with many more lines planned or under construction. More…

—by Tom Brosnahan


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