When planning a route through ancient Istanbul, it's important to consider that due to the significant difference in elevation, even a short walk in the city can turn into an endless series of difficult climbs and steep descents. Luckily, a complex network of public transportation is available to help tourists. Today, I would like to share a story with you about the Tunnel (Tünel), an underground funicular located in the heart of the ancient metropolis.
Where is the Tunnel located?
On the maps of Istanbul Metro, the funicular is indicated as Line F2. There are only two stations here - "Karaköy" and "Beyoğlu". It is easy to reach, for example, from the Galata Bridge to Istiklal Street. Currently, there are four funicular lines operating in different parts of the city.
The standard fare for the funicular with a tourist transportation card Istanbulkart is 9.9 liras (Spring 2023).
A bit of history
The construction of the Istanbul underground funicular took place from 1871 to 1874. The new passenger system was opened on January 17, 1875. City guides say that the Tunnel was the third such structure in the world. Before that, underground railway lines were only built in London and New York.
Until 1970, the funicular cars were powered by steam. Its engines had a power of 150 horsepower. Interestingly, initially the lighting of the cars was organized using gas lamps.
The length of the underground funicular line is 573 meters. 170 passengers can travel here at once. The carriages cover the distance between stations in 90 seconds. Clocks with the time until departure of the funicular are installed on the platforms.
Today, interesting materials are located at the funicular stations, talking about the history of Istanbul and the Tunnel itself. At "Beyoğlu", for example, you can look at photos with city views. At the lower station of "Karaköy" there is an information stand with a story about this place. The information is duplicated in English and Turkish. Also, a model of this area is installed here, on which this ancient underground transportation system is shown.
Usually, in the final part of the article, I mention the attractions located near the place I am talking about. But in the case of the Tunnel, it is almost impossible to do this, as there are simply a huge number of interesting places around it. I will not try to list them all, instead I suggest you continue getting acquainted with the topic of Istanbul transport in my article about the Sirkeci station. This station is famous for the fact that the world-famous Orient Express once arrived here.
Have a nice trip!