Seen from the sea from every ferry departing or entering Kadıköy, the Haydarpaşa Railway Station sits along the Bosphorus as an iconic image of Istanbul’s skyline. For a closer look, it’s only a 10 minute walk from the metro or ferry.
This railway station is one of the most architectural, historical and symbolic buildings in Istanbul.
Built in 1873, the first Anatolian railway line ran from here to Iznik. During Ottoman Sultan Abdül Hamid II’s reign, he expanded the railway to modernize the Ottoman Empire with Germany’s support. With the financial help from German ally Kaiser Wilhelm II, the Deutsche bank invested in the construction and operation of the railway expansion. In 1898 German engineers started to run the lines throughout the empire and completed in 1908. At this time, two German architects were hired to build a new larger building to withstand the increase in traffic.
This station had regional, domestic and international trains. At first it was only used for freight, and passenger service was added later. Over the years the services expanded, trains connected Istanbul to Ankara (Anatolian Express), Kars (Eastern Express) and even Baghdad (Tauras Express) and Tehran (Trans-Asia Express).
Over the course of its inception, the historic station had witnessed tearful departures of troops during World War I, to serveing as a first glimpse of a new start to those who migrated to Istanbul for a better life. It also lived through the country’s transformation from the Ottoman Empire to the Turkish Republic.
Since 2012, the station sits unused and is open (free of charge) to the public. It’s not a museum, in any means, it’s more of a place you can roam and explore around on your own. The first time I went there I thought I was going to be yelled at for trespassing, it’s that quiet and eery.