History of Orient Express

Probably the most popular train in the world travels through Europe. You already know its name – it’s Orient Express. I believe many travelers around the world have at least once wanted to get on board and travel the famous route, taking the role of a passenger that travelled that way at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century. I know I have…

The original journey, as we know it, started in Paris and passed through (Strasbourg, Munich) Vienna, Budapest, Bucharest and ended in Istanbul. It first ran in 1883. But the route changed many times. During World War I Orient Express service was even suspended. At the end of the war it ran again, but changed it’s route; Istanbul – Sofia – Belgrade – Venice – Milan – Lausanne – Paris. During World War II, similar thing happened. It couldn’t run properly because some areas were closed and in other parts it was sabotages because of political issues. Eventually it was cut to Venice to Paris part only.

Orient Express histoireMurder on the Orient Express, first edition cover 1934The coaches of the authentic Orient Express were the place of many historical scenes and intrigues. One of the sleeping coaches, no. 3309, was a part of the train that was in 1929. stuck in snow for 10 days about a 100 km from Istanbul. The passengers only survived because the locals from the villages in the neighbourhood helped. Some of the coaches were a German loot during World War II. Even Bulgarian king Boris the Third was a train enthusiast and sometimes drove it himself.

But I’m sure that a lot of you remember Orient Express by Agatha Christie’s novel Murder in the Orient Express. Another amazing story led by the famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. The journey with Orient Express was called “The birthplaces of the Empires”. Very early its name became a synonymous of luxury travel. Today, the train is, of course, completely restored but the route from Paris to Istanbul no longer exists.

Stella – European Travelling Advisor

3 Responses to “History of Orient Express”

  1. January 14, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    The Orient-Express must certainly be one of the most famous trains of all time. The refurbished carriages of the present-day Venice Simplon-Orient-Express are as luxurious and exclusive as ever they were. Lets hope this beautiful train continues its journeys across Europe for some time to come.

  2. 2 Margaret
    January 16, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    Actually, once a year the restored Orient Express (known as the Venice-Simplon Orient-Express and operated by the travel company of the same name) does travel from Paris to Istanbul and back to Venice. The trip typically occurs in late August or early September and sells out a year in advance… I guess many people like you have nostalgia for the golden age of travel!

    I guess if you want to go in 2010 you should probably get on the list now!

  3. 3 Stella Stopfer
    January 16, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    Hi Margaret,

    thank you very much for the information, I didn’t know that. Yes, I think I do :) It just has a different air to it, that something that obviously attracts me to it.
    So, you said 2010? :D

    Thanks Margaret for your comment, I appreciate it!

    Stella – European Travelling Advisor

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