Byzantine Coastal City Unearthed in Istanbul’s Asian Part during Restoration of Historic Train Station in Turkey

The newly found Byzantine city is located on the Asian side of the Bosphorus Strait, in Turkey’s largest city Istanbul. Photo: Hurriyet Daily News

An unknown Byzantine coastal city located on the Asian side of Istanbul, the former Constantinople, has been discovered during the restoration of a historic train station in Turkey.

The discovery of the Byzantine city has been made during archaeological excavations as part of the restoration of Istanbul’s Haydarapasa railway station, which is located on the Asian side of the Bosphorus Strait, Hurriyet Daily News reports.

The digs have been carried out by a team of about 50 people under the coordination of the Istanbul Directorate of Archeology Museums.

Istanbul’s Haydarapasa railway station was shut down for restoration back in 2013, and is expected to be reopened by the end of 2018.

The Turkish archaeologists have dug up Byzantine ruins underneath the Modern Era railroad tracks.

However, they believe the Byzantine coastal city was substantially larger than the exposed ruins, probably covering an area of about 300 decares (appr. 75 acres).

The Byzantine Empire, also known as the Eastern Roman Empire, the successor of the Roman Empire, existed from the 4th until 1453 when its capital Constantinople and its last remaining other outposts were conquered by the Ottoman Empire (which transformed into modern-day Turkey in the 1920s).

The Haydarpasa train station was designed by two German architects, and was inaugurated in 1909, five years before the onset of World War I.

At the time, it symbolized the alliance between the Ottoman Empire and Imperial Germany of Kaiser Wilhelm II who cultivated a strong personal relationship with Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II as the German Empire sought to boost its influence throughout the Middle East, towards the Persian Gulf.

As a result, Ottoman Turkey was allied with Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I. Having been strongly disgruntled by the results from the two Balkan Wars in 1912 – 1913, Bulgaria, back then the Tsardom of Bulgaria, joined their alliance in 1915 becoming essentially the fourth of the Central Powers.

Once the historic train station of Haydarpasa is reopened in Istanbul’s Asian section, it will be a stop for high-speed trains from Turkey’s capital Ankara.

Historically, the train station has had railway connections to cities in Eastern Turkey such as Kars and Van as well as Iran’s capital Tehran.

It has also been the starting point of the Istanbul – Baghdad train service, the Taurus Express, featured in the opening chapter of Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express."

Presently, however, the Istanbul – Baghdad train service is suspended indefinitely.

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