Archaeological remains from Byzantine era found during restoration of historic Istanbul station

Archaeological remains from Byzantine era found during restoration of historic Istanbul station

Özgür Deniz Kaya – ISTANBUL

Remains of what archaeologists believe is from a Byzantine coastal town have been found during the restoration works of Istanbul’s Haydarapaşa railway station, which stands on the Asian side of the Bosphorus.

The discovery came a while ago, after a team of about 50 people started to undertake in archaeological excavations on the site under the coordination of the Istanbul Directorate of Archeology Museums. The works led the team to unearth ancient remains under the railroad tracks, but archeologists believe the remains are scattered on a much larger scale—over an area of 300 decares.

The historic railway was shut down in 2013 for a major upgrade and has not seen any train traffic since. It is expected be in service again by the end of this year.

The restoration works, which kicked off in 2015, are currently continuing to renovate the building roof, waiting area, exterior façade stones, sections used as bureaus, and heating and water system.

Once the historic station is reopened, it will be the terminal for the new high-speed trains from the capital Ankara, which are currently stopping in Istanbul’s Pendik district, well outside the center, as well as a hub for commuter trains.

Haydarpaşa station, designed by two German architects, was inaugurated in its current form in 1909, five years before the outbreak of World War I.

It was a symbol of the friendship between the Ottoman Empire and imperial Germany under Kaiser Wilhelm II, who yearned to expand Berlin’s influence deep into the Middle East and had sealed a strong relationship with Sultan Abdulhamid II.

Until its closure five years ago, Haydarpaşa was a busy station, with commuter trains as well as overnight service to towns in eastern Turkey like Kars and Van, as well as a service going as far as Tehran.

It was also the starting point of the Istanbul-Baghdad train service, the Taurus Express, which is featured in the opening chapter of Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” but is currently suspended indefinitely.