The Orient Express identified as “King of trains” and “the train of kings,” is the first luxury train in European history. In this luxury train, it is told that the curtains are made of silk, the cups are from the crystal, and the tables are from silver. Orient Express, which hosted many well-known names throughout its history; passed by the great European capitals such as Vienna, Budapest, Milan, and Venice come to Istanbul in about 80 hours. Because of all these characteristics that made this train special, it became a source of inspiration for many people and was often used in books and movies. In this article, we will share with you the true story of the Orient Express which has engraved its name in history. If you’re curious about the exciting story of this magical train, keep reading!
The brainchild of Belgian businessman Georges Nagelmackers and owned by the French railway company Wagons-Lits the Orient Express first ran from Paris to Istanbul in October 1883. The passengers who traveled by train were significant diplomats from different countries, such as The Times newspaper reporter, novelist and traveler Edmond About. He described his memories of this trip in his book, De Ponteise à Stamboul, published in 1884. Orient Express had a taste of luxury that could only be found in the palaces at that time. Rich and noble people were competing to spend money on this luxury resort. So many times, a day without changing clothes, to partake in dinner without wearing something special was considered as solecism. Of course, the only reason why Orient Express was favored was not just its comfort. This single train had reduced the route to 80 hours which was lasted about 2.5 months with a fiacre at that time.
As we mentioned above, the passengers of Orient Express were prominent people from the high level and were traveling in a phenomenal luxury on the train. Therefore, Istanbul should have offered the same comfort as the last stop of the train. Pera Palace Hotel was built for this purpose. As of 1895, passengers coming to Istanbul with Orient Express began to stay at Pera Palace Hotel, which is also owned by Wagons-Lits. Pera Palace Hotel was granting them the same pleasure they have on Orient Express.
The Orient Express has hosted these influential people across the continents for years. Among the notable passengers of the train were French President Paul Dechanel, renowned writer Agatha Christie, spy Mata Hari, Bulgarian King Ferdinand and many more.
The Orient Express not only welcomed influential people; it was also the subject of many books and films. Agatha Christie’s novel “Murder on The Orient Express” that she wrote at Pera Palace Hotel, American playwright John Dos Passos’s book Orient Express and, American novelist Graham Greene’s book Stamboul Train were among the books that Orient Express was the subject.
The passengers of Orient-Express witnessed another decisive moment, as well as books and films. During the First World War years (1914-1918) the express expeditions could not be made. Between these years, the train was held at the station. After the end of the war, some of the wagons withdrew into a forest in France. At the end of World War I, the cease-fire agreement between the German representatives versus the French and the British was signed on the Number 2431 wagon of the Orient Express.
The Orient Express’s journeys were stopped during World War I and resumed its operation in 1919. However, Germany and Austria’s stations were removed from the route because of their defeat at war. Therefore, the journey started to take 58 hours. In World War II, the train was interrupted once again. Although it began its runs after the war, lost its importance in time due to several restrictions. The run on 27 May 1977 was the last expedition of the famous Orient Express to Istanbul…
The wagons of the Orient Express, which achieved to obtain a reputation for many years, were later bought by a British and Moroccan Royal Palace Museums, and its magical tale has always secured its place among the dusty shelves of history.