1888: This Railway Station Became Famous for the Train that Terminated There

February 11, 1888

Construction began on a new terminal building for Sirkeci railway station in the city of Constantinople (now known as Istanbul) in the present-day Republic of Turkey. (At the time, Turkey was part of the Ottoman Empire; Constantinople served as the empire’s capital.) With Constantinople straddling the Bosporus strait between Europe and Asia, Sirkeci railway station had been established in 1872 to serve as part of a major transportation link between both continents. The station’s terminal building – intended to be only temporary – was constructed the following year.

The replacement for the temporary structure was designed by August Jasmund, an architect from the Kingdom of Prussia (the leading state of the German Empire until it was dissolved in 1918). Jasmund, who had originally been sent by the government of the German Empire to study the Ottoman Empire’s architecture first-hand, taught architectural design at the Constantinople-based School of Polytechnics (now called Istanbul Technical University).

The terminal building designed by Jasmund has become one of the best-known examples of European Orientalism, the general term for Western adaptations of architecture in the Ottoman Empire and elsewhere in the Eastern world. Jasmund’s design for Sirkeci railway station’s terminal building has strongly influenced other architects. His building’s state-of-the-art innovations included gas lighting and heating provided by large tile stoves that had been made in the European constitutional monarchy of Austria-Hungary.

In November 1890, the completed terminal building was officially opened to the public. This structure soon became famous worldwide as the eastern terminus of the legendary long-distance passenger train known as the Orient Express. The building has also achieved iconic status as one of Istanbul’s most prominent symbols.

Additional information on Sirkeci railway station in Istanbul is available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sirkeci_railway_station.

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