Linking Karakoy to Beyoglu, the first Istanbul metro is 140 years old. Making 181 trips, the tunnel was a permanent scene during the Ottoman era and in the first years of the Turkish Republic and has always remained a point of interest for locals and tourists. Working a return trip, the two wagon tram makes 181 trips a day and carried 15,000 passengers. Between Karakoy and Beyoglu, the quiet journey is completely in 90 seconds. Accepted as the first metro in Istanbul, the 573 long tram has been carrying passengers for over 140 years and was considered indispensable in that time.
French Engineer Eugene Henri Garands tunnel adventure started in Istanbul in 1860 when he came to visit the city. During that era, the district of Galata was known as the banking district and proposed a railway project that would link to the social scene of Pera to Sultan Abdulaziz Han. Completed in January 1875, when opened for service the tunnel was the worlds second oldest underground metro.
Today it offers a nostalgic journey between Karakoy and Beyoglu. Transport, Construction and Operations Manager Ugur Olcay says:
“With the establishment of the General Directorate in 1939, it has served and continues to serve Istanbul transport to this day. At this point in time it has a return trip of 5 minutes from 7am to 10.45pm. The tunnel is of great importance to us. This 140 years old and it is still working – there are very few services in Istanbul and Turkey that are this old. It still continues to carry passengers to this day”.
In celebration of the 140 years of service, the Cer Gallery has opened an exhibition called IETT Cultural Art Station. The exhibition displays old accessories that have belonged to the tunnel. Photographs, uniforms of the train officers, passes and tickets are part of the numerous pieces that keep the history of the tunnel alive. With carrying zero risk to passengers for the past 140 years, the tunnel attracts locals and tourists till today.