Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tünel: Terminal or Museum?

I traveled with it when I was in London:

With its 270 stations and 400km of track, it
is the longest metro in the world, London underground as we all know.

Well. What about the shortest metro in the world? Where it can be, have you ever got curious?

..click on my photos for large size..

shortest. tiny. second-oldest passenger underground is
in Istanbul,
after the underground of London (1863). And,
the first subterranean urban rail line in continental Europe.

Its historical background is really worth to know. Back in 1870's, the times of Constantinople..

The people used to work in the center of trade and stock exchange that is low Galata, today's Karaköy. And, they were living in upper Istanbul, Pera or today's Beyoğlu, which was full of its embassies, dwellings. Eugé
ne-Henri was observing the people shuttling between Galata and uphill Pera. He thought if it could be possible to make a shortway of connecting those two important quarters, so saving the people the difficult walk of climbing 60 meters.

The French engineer Eugé
ne-Henri Gavant gave his thought a way to design the Tunnel in 1867. Received the necessary permission from Ottoman Sultan Abdülaziz in 1869 to start the project. Construction began in 1871 and ended in 1874. Opened for service on Jan 17, 1875. Since then, this mini one-stop Tunnel between two-stations, Tünel as we say in turkish, is still useful for the crazy crowded city's population.

In numerical facts;

Climbs the steeply uphill for 500 meters from Karaköy to the southern end of Beyoğlu. In every 2 minutes' waiting time, it quickly comes and goes. Length is 573 m. Carries 15,000 passengers per day with its 2 wagons on the line, it makes 64.800 trips and 37.066 km totally in a year. For more about Istanbul public transport, visit official site iett

By the end of 2008, Tünel has got a very new face after five months of renovation. Seen in my photos, traditional Turkish tiles patterned with blue and white tulips cover the walls from end to end. So wonderful, certainly makes it worth to use or visit, or look around taking photos:

More correctly, when you enter in your eyes are drawn not only tulips but also those huge old Istanbul pictures of Galata Tower, Maiden's Tower, Hagia Sophia and other insights on the tiles that all welcome passengers. You can easily forget to buy ticket that happens so often to me;) Because inside is more likely a Museum rather than a simple terminal!

Maiden's Tower

Topkapi Palace

Galata Tower and old Pera

Not only aboveground, underground of Istanbul also offers a nice combination of century old history and modernity at the same time. You get this feeling easily wherever you go in the city.

I feel myself lucky as I experienced traveling on both, longest and shortest tunnels:)


  1. I've travelled the longest too, Nihal. But if wasn't as beautiful as Istanbul's. The tiles are simply wonderful works of art.

  2. Nihal, your very nice article with so interesting images well describes the underground of Istanbul. The tiles with the blue and white tulips are really fantastic; I have been in London underground, but the stations generally seem not so artistic and refined.
    About the movie "Rebecca", I can tell you the original version is directed by Alfred Hitchcock, with actors Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier.
    Have a good evening!