June 11 2014

The Historical Train Stations of Istanbul, Turkey: Preserve or Renovate?

Before the Bosphorus Bridge was built in 1973, Haydarpasa Terminal was the intersection point of the European and Asian sides of IstanbulPeople used to take the train from Anatolia, and move on to the ferry at Haydarpasa to reach the European side. After the construction of the bridge, road transportation became more frequently used and the Haydarpasa Terminal left its hectic days behind. The terminal was a meeting point, where travelers waited, people bid farewell to each other, and greet their arriving loved ones.

Haydarpasa Train Station, Istanbul, Turkey

The terminal was opened in 1872 and rebuilt in 1909. It was built by German and Italian stonemasons. Haydarpasa, the gate to Anatolia, also became a stage for TV shows and movies. It was an actor of those screenplays. Haydarpasa was not only an architectural work of art, but also a place where people could drink tea while observing the scenery of the Hagia Sophia, Galata Tower and the BosphorusSince June 2013, Haydarpasa has been silent.

The suburban train trips were suspended because of the high-speed train work. Goztepe Station, opened in 1872, rebuilt in 1969 and a part of the Haydarpasa-Pendik line, is rumored to have been demolished as a part of this work. The Ministry of Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communication felt the need to make a statement. The ministry stated that Goztepe Station was not to be demolished but preserved. A new station was to be built .25 miles west to the existing station within the frame of the Marmaray Project (the frequently debated underwater railway connecting the Asian and European sides) and that new station was to be used. This means the historical station will not be used, and ultimately will be abandoned. Every station on the Haydarpasa – Pendik line is going to face the same problem: Kiziltoprak, Feneryolu, Erenkoy, Suadiye… What is to become of Haydarpasa Terminal is also unknown.

Haydarpasa Train Station Interior, Istanbul, Turkey

Leaving these historical stations unused under the pretense of renovation will cause a great deal of damage to Istanbul’s legacy. Is it impossible to preserve them instead of building new stations? Or maybe a museum of some sort could be built inside these stations that would talk about their history? The small museums built in the stations would add value to them, and every element in the stations would be better preserved.

The Kadikoy Municipality, the host of Haydarpasa and many stations on the Haydarpasa – Pendik line, proposed that these historical stations could be used as cultural centers under the guidance of Sunay Akin, a widely-known Turkish poet and intellectual. The proposal was refused by the Ministry.

Let’s not forget that preservation of a legacy is the first step in ensuring society’s memory. Without preservation, history is doomed to be forgotten.

What else could be done to preserve the legacy of historical buildings?

Original article, originally published in Turkish, here.

Credits: Images by Murad Sekerli and Sabri Irmak. Data linked to sources.

Imra Gundogdu

Born and raised in Istanbul, Imra earned her B.A. in Translation and Interpretation from Bilkent University in 2010. From her senior year on, she works as a literary translator, with an emphasis on children’s literature. She gained extensive knowledge on translation technologies by working for local leaders in Turkey and handled prominent clients such as Microsoft and Apple, satisfying her need to understand how software works. She also took on several universities and PhD candidates as clients to develop herself in social sciences and recently added Political Science to her specialization areas. Feeling concerned about the deforestation and depersonalization of her hometown, and in an effort to understand urbanization, she joined Global Site Plans as an intern. She likes gardening, wants to live in a eco-friendly community and her dream is to see Earth from the space.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 11th, 2014 at 9:20 am and is filed under Architecture, Government/Politics, History/Preservation, Transportation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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