Many people are familiar with the Orient Express due to its frequent mention in popular culture and iconic literature. At one point in human history—before today’s efficacy of air travel and the coolest modes of transportation—the Orient Express was ahead of its time when it came to travel. This luxury train was considered an efficient way to travel in Europe while enjoying a cushy journey overflowing with sophistication and pampering. The original train line and its predecessor share some interesting facts that are worth knowing!

10 The Original Orient Express Was Founded By A Belgian Engineer

The Orient Express was formerly operated by the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits, or the International Sleeping Car Company. The company itself was founded by Belgian engineer Georges Nagelmackers, who was inspired by the American Pullman night trains he encountered during his trip to the Americas. As a result, he imagined traveling in Europe to be a luxurious and comfortable affair during a time when travel was dangerous and unpredictable.

9 The First Journey Was In 1883

The Orient Express Trains that many people are aware of today made its first journey on October 4th, 1883. With 40 passengers onboard, the train left Paris’ Gare de l’Est to venture to Constantinople. This 13-day journey included stops at European cities like Giurgiu, Munich, Vienna, Danube, and Varna. Additionally, to get to Constantinople, the company transported passengers by ferry!

8 The Original Train Ran Until 2009

The original Orient Express trains witnessed prosperous times in the early 20th century, with its peak popularity seen in the 1930s. However, its popularity declined by the 1970s, during a time when travelers valued air travel and high-speed train commutes. As a result, the original Orient Express offered its last ride on December 10th, 2009, which disappeared in European railway timetables four days later on December 14th. It was only until 2021 that a revamped version of the original Orient Express would be made public.

7 The Orient Express Trains Were Sold Or Leased

By the 1970s, the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits faced an economic decline, with renovation costs soaring through the roof. As a result, the company sold the trains to national railways in Europe, particularly in France, Austria, and Germany. However, in the early 1980s, two American entrepreneurs bought several trains from the company, which led to the creation of the private train service company, the Venice-Simplon Orient Express. Luckily, despite being a separate venture from the original, this train service parallels the luxury of the Orient Express, taking passengers from London to Venice and other cities across Europe.

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6 The Orient Express Is Linked To Luxury

Since 1883, the Orient Express—and even its predecessor—enjoyed a reputation as a world-class luxury train that could take people to different parts of the world. Throughout its tenure, this luxury train line was enjoyed by numerous celebrities, government officials, and wealthy aristocrats. The train was designed with style in mind, including decor and intricate glassware by French artisans.

5 The Trains Are Actually Historic

Though today’s Orient Express is a recreation of posh-style travel in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the company actually owns seven cars that are considered historic, with each train more beautiful than the last. These cars are decked out—from head to toe—with beautiful restorations by French artists, recreating the same vibe that was enjoyed decades ago, transporting travelers to world-class cities like Istanbul, London, Paris, and Venice.

4 They Have "The Most Beautiful Train In The World"

Traveling on the Orient Express Train was a treat in itself, but riding on Le Train Bleu was a luxury! Also known as the Clais-Méditerranée-Express, this train is a sleek metallic blue color with gold trimmings. Since 1922, this gorgeous train is still going strong and has inspired many popular books, movies, and television shows, including Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express.

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3 Trains Will Be Refurbished For The Paris Olympics

The world is looking forward to the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, and the Orient Express is taking part in it! The historic trains will be refurbished in time for the games and are said to be furnished with the nostalgic decor of the 19th and early 20th centuries, complete with “contemporary comforts”! The project will include 17 trains that contain restaurants, lounges, and sleep areas, providing passengers with a luxe trip back in time during the Olympics.

2 They Are Also Building New Trains

In 2023, the Orient Express will introduce a new luxury train for travelers wanting to visit Italy. Known as the Orient Express La Dolce Vita, this train will bring passengers through Southern and Northern Italy while providing connections between international cities like Istanbul, Rome, and Paris. The new line of trains will include six trains with the same luxury service that the Orient Express is known for.

1 The Train Inspired World Pop Culture

Despite many people never stepping foot inside the Orient Express, they know of its name and reputation thanks to countless references made in television shows, movies, books, video games, and music throughout generations. From102 Dalmatians to Bram Stroker’s Dracula, the luxe nature of the Orient Express inspired works of art and media that inspire travelers and evoke curiosities among the public!