Sirkeci Station awaits new restoration project

Sirkeci Station awaits new restoration project

ISTANBUL - Anatolia News Agency
Istanbul’s old Sirkeci Train Station is preparing for a huge restoration project. Perceived to be among the most important cultural heritage sites in Istanbul, the station is an important reflection of the city’s architecture, cultural heritage. Sirkeci Station aims to be one of the culture point of the city.

Currently preparing for restoration, the Istanbul Sirkeci Train Station is treasured as an architectural landmark in the city and the door that opens to Europe. Following restoration plans and design, the project will be opened for tender, according to the Anatolia news agency.

“The station is not only the transportation center, it also holds Turkey’s artistic, architectural and cultural heritage together,” the general manager of Turkish State Railways (TCDD), Süleyman Karaman, told the Anatolia news agency, adding that restoration of this buildings means so much more than restoring an ordinary building.

Built in 1890 by German architect August Jasmund, an expert in Oriental architecture, the Istanbul Sirkeci Terminal, also known as Istanbul Terminal, is TCDD’s main station on the European side of Istanbul. Located near the historic Sultanahmet district, international, domestic and regional trains running westward depart from the station, which was inaugurated as the terminus of the Orient Express.

The station opened Nov. 3, 1890 with a lavish ceremony and has served the city for more than 120 years running. Some parts of the roof have been damaged, prompting TCDD to restore the building. Currently, new restoration project proposals are being drawn up for the station. Because of the roof damage, the building will be off-limits temporarily while restoration is being carried out.

New restoration project

The restoration project will be presented to the Istanbul Cultural and Natural Heritage Preservation Board, who must approve the scheme. According to the representatives, the restoration is expected to continue for two to three years.

Sirkeci is a symbolic station for Istanbul, Karaman said. “This is a cultural heritage for the all the city,” he added.

“We try to bring station to the center of the city,” he said, adding that the train station has not been looked after because of the decreasing use of trains. He said the railway association is 155 years old and that’s another reason why they would like to reflect the cultural heritage of the Sirkeci station.

The architectural features are very important for the area, he said, adding that when the German architect designed the building, he designed it in harmony with Islamic architecture.

History of Sirkeci station

The construction of a new terminal building initially named “Müşir Ahmet Paşa Station,” began on Feb. 11, 1888, to replace a temporary one. Architect Jasmund was sent to Istanbul by the German government to study Ottoman architecture and lectured on architectural design at the School of Polytechnics (now Istanbul Technical University). The 1,200-square-meter building is one of the most famous examples of European Orientalism and has influenced the designs of other architects. On opening, the building was modern for its time with gas lighting and heating in winter.

The terminal restaurant became a meeting point for journalists, writers and other prominent people from the media in the 1950s and 1960s. The same restaurant, today called “Orient Express,” is a popular spot for tourists.

The current station is preserved in its original state, but the areas around the terminal building have largely changed since 1890.

Members of the Mevlevi Dervish order regularly conduct ceremonies at Sirkeci Terminal, which tourists and other members of the public can observe for an admission fee