Sirkeci – Not Just A Train Station

40 years ago Sirkeci was just a run down neighborhood on the fringes of Istanbul tourism. Now it is a flourishing and revitalized district. So, what changed? The work of NGOs in partnership with the municipal authorities labored many years in an attempt to create a new sort of community. This would be something largely unknown within the tourism sector of the city and indeed the country. A living, breathing, Turkish neighborhood which also welcomes guests to its hotels and restaurants to dine, sleep, and relax side by side with the native people. While Sirkeci has not yet completed its metamorphosis into an idyllic utopia of friendly people from around the world living a peaceful and easy life, it has certainly made great strides and come a long way in the past half decade.

This ancient Istanbul community is called Sirkeci today, but used to go by names like Phosphorion, and Neorion Port. It is the terminus of the Orient Express rail line, and home to many cultural attractions like the New Mosque, and Spice Bazaar as well as Hocapaşa Cultural Center.

Sirkeci maintains a local culture while welcoming many guests both domestic and from abroad. local flavors abound in the diverse restaurants of the district. Ranging from street food to fine dining, there is a flavor and price range for most budgets.

The location, just 5 minutes walk from the Blue Mosque and Aya Sofia, and connected to the main convention centers by public transport,  make the hotels here ideal for tourists and businessmen alike. Prices for accommodation and meals are generally lower here than in the Sultanahmet district because Sirkeci is a relative newcomer to the tourism game.

Perhaps the most important aspect maintaining the diversity of the district is its importance as a transportation hub. With trains to European capitals, ferries to the Asian side of the city, buses, the tram line to the airport,  Galata Bridge connecting to Karaköy and the first stop in Europe of the new Marmaray subway tunnel which dives under the Bosphorus to connect the two continents.