srke1As the location of İstanbul's railway station for trains to Europe, Sirkeci was one of İstanbul's main transport hubs, a situation that looks likely to change now that the delayed Marmaray project is getting into its stride. Sirkeci Station is likely to be decommissioned; already it has become less important to travellers with the loss of the old train services to Greece which fell victim to that country's economic woes.

Should you need one there is a tourist information office on the side of the station facing the tram stop. 

Sirkeci Station 

Sirkeci Station itself is a fine building better appreciated from the side facing the Bosphorus than from the main entrance to the concourse. From here you can see that it was designed in Orientalist style by the German architect August Jasmund. The work was completed in 1889. It's well worth taking a close look at the stained glass and fine vaulted ceilings of some of the rooms on the concourse.sirke2

Before rushing to board a train it’s worth popping your head inside the small museum (admission free, closed Sundays and Mondays) on the forecourt of the station which formed the terminus for the famous Orient Express from London and Paris. Here you’ll find photos and souvenirs from the days when travel was the preserve of those with big money and meals in the restaurant car were served on bone china.

Around the station

For the time being the area in front of Sirkeci Station is very messy what with the car parking area and the tramlines. It is likely that it will be improved once the station is taken out of service. 

Meanwhile if you look more closely at the soot-blackened buildings facing the station you will see that some of them are fine 19th-century edifices just in need of a bit of TLC. 


Sirkeci is becoming an increasingly interesting area for foodies.

Turn down the small side street beside the Burger King opposite Sirkeci Station to find the Tarihi Subaşı Lokantası, a branch of the hugely popular cafe near the Kapalı Çarşısı that has been dishing up excellent home cooking to its customers since 1959.

On Ankara Caddesi as it heads uphill you'll see on the left the tiny Meshur Filibe Köftecisi which has been dishing up meatballs to appreciative lunchtime diners since forever. 

Just a few doors down from Burger King you'll also find Konyalı, a smaller and much more low-key branch of the cafe that can be found inside the grounds of Topkapı Palace, its walls decorated with drawings and testimonials from famous customers including Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu, the poet whose İstanbul Destanı (Saga of İstanbul) offers vivid descriptions of the city's most memorable features, not least the squabbling seagulls.

On the station concourse itself the Orient Express Restaurant also finds favour with many diners. 

To learn more about the restaurants and cafes of Sirkeci and Hocapaşa: http://sirkecirestaurants.com/category/eat_and_drink_sirkeci_restaurants_istanbul/local-restaurants-sirkeci-istanbul/

Transport info

There is a stop on the Kabatas-Zeytinburnu tramway at Sirkeci which is also home to the car ferry across to Harem, the main bus terminal for Asian İstanbul (http://sehirhatlari.com.tr/en). The Sirkeci Marmaray station is to the rear of the station.

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