Unlikely as it may seem this great metropolis straddling Europe and Asia has among its rich attractions for visitors from around the world – a noteworthy preference in showcasing its transport history on its waterfront. Not one but two separate operating tramlines featuring older cars carry passengers through distinctive urban settings on each side of the Bosphorous. A vibrant commercial pedestrianised street Istikcal Lad has a single track narrow gauge tramway connects the important focal centre of Taksim Square with its other terminus at Tunel reached by a frequent rack railway leading directly from the famous Galata Bridge over the Bosphorous. The tram service operates with a handful of the city’s first generation period cars from the 1920s always full of visitors (and residents) along a mile or so line – as popular as San Francisco’s cable cars.
On the Asian side of Istanbul a second heritage tramline has been built at Kodacoy reached either by ferry or the expanding and impressive metro system. Here a circular route traverses a complete circle through period narrow residential streets operated by elderly 1950s trams brought to Turkey from the former east Germany. Entirely self-sufficient with its own small depot – some six classic Communist era cars provide a colourful ride with views of waterfront vistas over the Bosphorous.
A third important heritage transport asset has been developed alongside the Golden Horn on a former dockside site through privately funded endowments of a major Turkish Company ‘Koc Industries’ and its founder. A mixed eclectic collection of vintage cars, trains, trams, aircraft, vessels and models of all kinds are displayed within a waterside complex. Popular with visitors of all ages the Rahmi M. Koc Industrial Museum is a mecca complete with hotel, restaurants and detailed informative displays (in English and Turkish) of every exhibit maintained to a very high standard.
Istanbul’s vast metropolitan area has regained electric transport infrastructure in recent years through capital investment in new tramways, subways and metro system. In fact the city offers visitors an ease of access and connectivity to many of its historical sites and famed traditional attractions such as the Grand Bazaar, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace the awesome Haghia Sophia formerly centre of Byzantine worship and later a Mosque of great renown : now a heritage site drawing crowds from around the world. Just a few of Istanbul’s countless must visit draws.
Whilst Fleetwood and the Fylde coastline is nowhere close to the scale of Istanbul in international recognition and size – the role of its trams is a key asset in allowing visitors to optimise their leisure time in the city. Tramline T1 in particular manages to transport hundreds of thousands daily amid frenetic traffic conditions experienced in the centre of this absorbing metropolis. First impressions are everlasting. Combined with a friendly and courteous people, the city of Istanbul delivers a unique experience, especially for those in search of colourful change. Its waterfront being especially welcoming with flavours and traditions drawn from centuries of trade and commerce.