Loving A Bit Of Unexpected Railway Nostalgia In Izmir

Today is Cumhuriyet Bayramı (Republic Day) in Turkey, so this post seems quite apt for the occasion. Republic Day commemorates the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923 when Mustafa Kemal Atatürk became the first leader. For today’s post we’re heading back to Izmir and to Alsancak train station.

Alsancak Train Station, Izmir
Alsancak Railway Station

And how does this relate to Cumhuriyet Bayramı? You may remember that when we booked our apartment in Alsancak, our host had told us to wait at Alsancak train station and he would come to meet us there. We phoned him on arrival and had ten minutes to kill while we waited. We mooched around and, lo and behold, Alsancak train station turned out to have a couple of unexpected little finds that we were not expecting.

Atatürk's Train Carriage, Alsancak, Izmir
The train carriage of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

Izmir is widely accepted as Turkey’s most secular and Western leaning city, so we shouldn’t have been too surprised to see Atatürk’s railway carriage on display, outside of the station. There wasn’t a lot of information about the carriage; the main points being that this was the carriage Atatürk used to travel around Turkey and that it was last restored in 2007. We would have enjoyed a little look inside but that doesn’t seem to be the purpose of this particular display. Look but don’t touch.

But it was the feeling of nostalgia that came over us as we walked along the exterior of the carriage. Britain is packed with old trains and train enthusiasts. We took all that for granted and now we live in Fethiye, surrounded by high mountains and no rail links. This line – Izmir to Denizli – is our nearest opportunity for train travel. 


The old entrance to Alsancak Station has an equally nostalgic feel to it so we couldn’t help but slip through the doors to take a peek inside. And we certainly weren’t expecting this! 

Steam Train, Alsancak Station, Izmir
An old steam train on display in Izmir’s Alsancak Train Station

Wow! Before coming face to face with this beautiful creation, we’ve got no idea how long it was since we had seen a steam train. Again, we’ve seen them chug, chug, chugging along through various parts of the UK countryside; even been on a miniature one in Cumbria, but, despite acknowledging their beauty, we weren’t really too bothered about them and we still took them for granted. Is it our age or the fact that we hadn’t seen a steam train for so long? Whatever it is, it was such a pleasure to stumble across this grand old steam train in Izmir. 

Before heading somewhere new, expectations and preconceptions always fill the mind. Sometimes, when we travel elsewhere in Turkey, many things are as we expected they might be. Izmir was different. Prior to going, the only photos we’d seen of the city centre were of the Izmir clock tower. In person, when driving through en route to elsewhere, we’d only seen aesthetically unappealing high rise apartments. 


We weren’t expecting too much from Izmir, to be honest, but all that was blasted away even as we were just waiting to be met on arrival.
And this was just for starters! Amongst other things, we’ve already written about our experiences of eating söğüş and drinking the wonderfully smooth Izmir Turkish coffee, but we have many more posts to come from our few days in Turkey’s third largest city. 

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Comments

  1. There used to be a railway museum between Selçuk and Söke. I wonder if it is still there.

  2. There’s an open-air railway museum 12kms from Selçuk at Çamlık. It’s a nice but rather sad place because all the exhibits seem to be just mouldering away rather than keeping them in some sort of order. If you like trains it’s worth stopping by.

  3. @ BacktoBodrum and Alan: well it looks as though you’re both talking about the same place. 🙂 We never used to bother about trains Alan – like we said, maybe it’s an age thing 🙂 – but the railway museum certainly sounds interesting. Thanks.

  4. That’s a lovely find Julia, with all my travels to Izmir – we used to have a summer housein Gumuldur, Izmir – never knew this – very pleasant surprise 🙂 Love Izmir; civilised, pleasant, well worth going just for the sogus!:)

  5. @ Ozlem’s Turkish Table: Yes, got to say we fell for Izmir, too. Anywhere with a steam train and we’re sold. 🙂

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