Culture & Travel

12 October 2020

Tünel, the second oldest subway in the world, is considered one of the most important symbols of Istanbul today. The rail system, which was put into service with wooden wagons and steam on January 17, 1875, still continues to serve the residents of Istanbul. Tünel, which runs between Karaköy and Beyoğlu, covers a distance of more than 570 meters in 90 seconds and carries an average of 12 thousand passengers per day.

French engineer Eugene Henri Gavand observes the people who shuttle between Galata, the commercial and banking center of the period, and Pera, the heart of social life, and thinks of an alternative route to Yüksekkaldırım Hill and Galipdede Street. He appears before Sultan Abdulaziz for an elevator-type railway project that will connect these two centers.

The changing face of the city in the 19th century also necessitates the union of the Suriçi region of the Golden Horn, which was known as Istanbul until that time, and the Pera side. The first bridge built in 1836 connects Unkapanı and Azapkapı. The new bridge, which was relocated in 1872 and built to replace the Unkapanı Bridge we know today, survives with changes and reinforcements. With Karaköy becoming a commercial center, a bridge was built in Galata in 1845 and it was renewed and expanded in 1863.

From the beginning of the 1800s, works began for Istanbul to break its own shell and to connect other cities by rail, using the central location of the city, together with these bridges that provide the transition between regions. Here, Tünel comes into service in the light of these new developments.

Although they were designed on different dates, Sirkeci Station in the European continent and Haydarpaşa Train Station in the Asian continent were opened in 1872 and two continents meet in this city on the railway. This meeting will be so exciting that it will inspire very ambitious projects.

As early as 1876, the entrepreneur of the Istanbul Tunnel, Gavand, proposes an underwater tunnel project to ensure the uninterrupted transmission of these railways. The project, which will allow trains from Europe to continue on their way on the Asian side, did not materialize, but was presented again in 1902. The project aiming to establish an uninterrupted railway network between Sarayburnu and Salacak did not materialize either. It will be necessary to wait until 2013 for the dream of connecting both sides of the Bosphorus with the metro to come true. Being the product of such a radical change period, Tünel is a living museum as well as providing transportation services. Tünel is much more than a transportation system with its historical decoration, wagons and the nostalgic experience it offers to its passengers. Tunnel, which was indispensable for Istanbulites during the Ottoman period and the first years of the Republic, connects Karaköy and Beyoğlu with silent steps every day, offering its passengers the shortest, most enjoyable and most sincere journey.

This train line, which first became operational on December 5, 1874, is actually one of the oldest friends of Istanbul. Because since those years, it has both changed itself and witnessed the change of Istanbul. When it was first opened, it had 150 horsepower with the technology of that time and was working with two steam engines. However, as we said, it has changed a lot. Here he experienced his first change in 1911. After the studies, the metro line was now working with an electric system and became more modern. This red iron of Istanbul comes in second place after the London Underground, which is the oldest subway in the world. In the years we mentioned, Galata-Pera, formerly known as the world's first underground funicular system, was mentioned. The train, which is known by different names such as "Istanbul Tunnel, Galata-Pera Tunnel, Galata Tunnel, Galata-Pera Underground Train, Istanbul City Train, Underground Elevator, Tahtelarz" is operated by IBB today. It still attracts the attention of local and foreign tourists and people love it.