Located on the tip of the Historic Peninsula east of Eminönü and northwest of Gülhane Park and Topkapı Palace lies the Sirkeci Terminal Station. Whether you take a stroll downhill from Sultanahmet or uphill from the Spice Bazaar, you can follow the tramline to easily find it.
Built to connect Europe and Istanbul, German architect and engineer August Jachmund was commissioned by Sultan Abdülhamit II for its construction between 1888-1890.
The Orient Express was a luxury, long-distance passenger train from Paris to Constantinople. Departing from Paris with stops in France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and ending in Istanbul – the 1,800 mile journey was reached in 3 days.
Originally when the first train debuted in 1889, the last leg of the trip to Constantinople was via ferry. However in 1889, the first direct train to Istanbul left Paris and the Sirkeci Train Terminal remained its easternmost stop until 1977.
From there, a ferry service next to the train terminal would take passengers across the Bosphorus to Haydarpaşa Train Station, for travel through Turkey.
Since 2013 the lines were suspended for the creation of the new Marmaray commuter rail line, traveling under the Bosphorus connecting Europe to Asia. So whether you take the Marmary to the Sirkeci stop, eat at the Orient Express restaurant (pictured below) or purely visit the station that once inspired Agatha Christie’s novel ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ – it’s a great spot along the way to see some of Istanbul’s rich history firsthand.
Istanbul Railway Museum
Easy to overlook, upon the wall on the same side as the restaurant, before the platform, there’s a gold plated sign that reads: TCDD İstanbul Demiryolu Müzesi with Railway Museum written in smaller type below. Step inside to a see an impressive collection of documents and artifacts acquired throughout the train’s history. From train models and old signs, to items collected from stations and trains such as furniture and uniforms, to old railway technology including typewriters, switchboards, radios, telegraphs, lamps and clocks. There’s even medical equipment too. It’s impressive what an extensive collection it bears and that it all fits into a single room. Definitely an overlooked feature, not to be missed.