Inaugurated in 1883 by a French railway company, the Orient Express soon
became a legend. Originally traveling from Paris
through Munich, Vienna and Sophia to the Sirkeci train station of Constantinople (Istanbul today),
passengers could continue the journey, traveling by boat across the Bosphorus to the Haydarpasa Railway Station to join
the Taurus Express to Anatolia or even to Baghdad. But
usually many passengers decided to stay at the Pera
Palas hotel for their vacation.
A historic train of the late 19th and early 20th century, it was the most luxurious long distance rail journey in the history of
travel. The route varied throughout the years but it generally ran from Paris to
Istanbul, a distance of 3186 kilometers (1980 miles). Royalty, aristocracy, the rich and the famous traveled regularly
on the Orient Express. Gourmet chefs, chandeliers, fully equipped bathrooms, staterooms
and dining rooms were a high standard of the train.
The train was mentioned in many books but it is mostly remembered today by Agatha Christie's book (and later a film) "Murder on the Orient Express". She spent some time at the Pera Palas hotel which
today her room became the most famous and requested by almost every book
appassionate visiting Istanbul.
The Orient Express was originally operated by the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits. But it slowly declined in the 1930s with the Simplon Orient Express and the Arlberg Orient Express partially replacing it.
In the 1980s the Orient Express was re-introduced by investers running from Paris to Vienna (1390km or 864mi) and from Stuttgart to Prague (1253km or 778mi). The name "Orient Express" surely being a misnomer for these routes.
Unfortunately in the 1990s travelers are more interested in the speed to reach the destination rather than the journey itself. The glorious days of train travel are long gone but the name Orient Express still remembers us the past.
In 1998 Orient Express re-visited Istanbul once again on a special journey conducted by some travel agents who wanted to
remember people its glorious past. Nowadays the company which owns its name runs the train mostly between London - Paris - Venice. There are even plans to disconnect it in 2007 because of the weak demand.