Sirkeci railway station (Turkish: Sirkeci garı), listed on maps as Istanbul railway station (Turkish: İstanbul garı), is a railway terminal in Istanbul, Turkey. The terminal is located in Sirkeci, on the tip of Istanbul's historic peninsula, right next to the Golden Horn and just northwest of Gülhane Park and the Topkapı Palace. Sirkeci Terminal on the European side of the Bosporus strait, along with Haydarpaşa Terminal on the Asian side, are Istanbul's two intercity and commuter railway terminals. Built in 1890 by the Oriental Railway as the eastern terminus of the world-famous Orient Express that once operated between Paris and Istanbul in the period between 1883 and 2009, Sirkeci Terminal has become a symbol of the city. As of 19 March 2013, service to the station was indefinitely suspended due to the rehabilitation of the existing line between Kazlıçeşme and Halkalı for the new Marmaray commuter rail line. On 29 October 2013, a new underground station was opened to the public and is serviced by Marmaray trains travelling across the Bosphorus. Sirkeci Terminal has a total of 4 platforms (3 above, 1 underground) with 7 tracks (5 above, 2 underground). Formerly, commuter trains to Halkalı would depart from tracks 2, 3 and 4; while regional trains to Kapıkule, Edirne and Uzunköprü, along with international trains to Bucharest, Sofia and Belgrade would depart from tracks 1 and 5.
After the Crimean War, the Ottoman authorities concluded that a railway connecting Europe with İstanbul was necessary. The first contract was signed with Labro, a British member of parliament, in January 1857. The contract was cancelled three months later because Labro was unable to provide the investment capital required. Similar second and third contracts signed with British and Belgian entrepreneurs in 1860 and 1868 ended with the same result. On 17 April 1869 the concession for the "Rumeli Railroad" was awarded to Baron Maurice de Hirsch (Moritz Freiherr Hirsch auf Gereuth), a Bavaria-born banker from Belgium. The project foresaw a route from İstanbul via Edirne, Plovdiv and Sarajevo to the shore of the Sava River. The construction of the first 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) from İstanbul to Halkalı began on 4 June 1870 and was completed on 4 January 1871. An extension of the line to Sirkeci was demanded as the starting point since Yeşilköy was too far away from Eminönü, the main business district of that epoch. The first proposed option for the line was a route from Beyazit down to the shore of the Golden Horn. The Ottoman Sultan Abdülaziz decided and permitted the route to run on the shoreline of the Sea of Marmara bordering the walls of Topkapı Palace's lower garden. The extension line was completed on 21 July 1872. In 1873, a "temporary" terminus station in Sirkeci was built.
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