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Situated in Kadıköy district, lies just south of the Haydarpaşa port and overlooks the Bosphorus, Haydarpaşa terminal building has represented more than a simple transport terminal. It’s definitely one of the symbols of Istanbul. This historical structure has much in common with its passengers. It witnesses shows, concerts, joyful arrivals, tearful departures and much more. It was Haydarpaşa Terminal that bid farewell to all young troops who left for World War I and never returned or welcomed the families who had migrated to Istanbul from rural of Anatolia for the dream of a better life. The western travellers who was in seek for east’s deep mysticism had to take a boat across the Bosphorus and board a train from Haydarpaşa station. In a short almost everybody who had at least once visited Istanbul has a story that takes place in this terminal and that’s the reason it has special place in people’s heart.
The history of this gothic beauty on the Asian shore dates back to 1871 when Sultan Abdülaziz ordered a rail line between Haydarpaşa and İzmit. It was first built by wood but the following year, when the railway reached Gebze, a large stone building which had 30 windows on the facade replaced the temporary wooden one. In 1888 the Anatolian Railway (Osmanlı Anadolu Demiryolları) took over the station and in two years’ time the daily routs began between Haydarpaşa and İzmit so Haydarpaşa welcomed its first passengers.
Beginning with 1900s the international political environment started to push Ottomans for alliance with Germany, so Ottomans did. In the same time the German Empire started to invest more in Ottoman land. Both Haydarpaşa terminal and port could be shown as examples of the German investments. Between 1899 and 1903 German Philipp Hollzmann company constructed full equipped port in Haydarpaşa, just near the railway station. This helped Haydarpaşa Terminal to be chosen as the northern terminus of the Baghdad – Hedjaz Railway. Due to rail traffic, a new and larger building was required.
German architects Otto Ritter and Helmut Conu were hired by the Anatolian Railway to build the new building. Designed in neo-renaissance style which was popular in Germany at the time, Haydarpaşa Terminal’s construction started in 1906 and lasted until November 4.1909 when the terminal was put into use. From this time it is called “the door of Asia”.
After the World War I broke out in 1914, Haydarpaşa terminal started to be used as an armoury. A large fire on September 6 of 1917 that was the aftermath of a sabotage, demolished the Haydarpaşa terminal. After the event Haydarpaşa station was left neglected for a while. In 1927 CIWL started a premier train service between Haydarpaşa and Ankara and then it was rebuilt to its original state in the early ‘30s. The Eastern Express entered service between Haydarpaşa and Kars in 1938, the famous Taurus Express between Haydarpaşa and Baghdad in 1940, the Trans-Asia Express between Haydarpaşa and Tehran in 1965.
Haydarpaşa terminal was destroyed once more by fire this time in 1979. The event was the explosion from the crash of the crude which was full of fuel hit Greek freighter passing close to the Haydarpaşa Railway Station building. A few months later another restoration started and lasted till 1983.
The third and final fire disaster happened in 2010. The central and northern parts of Haydarpaşa Station’s roof were burned during the fire. After this burning its restoration started immediately, however it was then temporarily closed. Rumour has it that it was closed to facilitate the constructions of the Istanbul-Ankara high-speed railway and the Marmaray rail transport project. Still, the time has shown that this statement didn’t convince many people. On 18 June of 2013 numerous people arrived at Haydarpaşa Terminal for protest against government’s decision to alter it into a hotel.
Haydarpaşa Terminal is now used as a museum which keeps its historical objects such as library, a cabinet, tables, chair, and stoves from the Abdulhamid II era. What the future will bring for this colossal building? Will the government verify the rumours and change one of the most beautiful train terminal in the world into a hotel? Only time can tell us … The only thing we can do is sit back with a cup of cay and enjoy the view of this beautiful building…
Photo Credits: Emre Ergin