Grandiosity Galore at the Munich Olympic Stadium

The architects Günther Behnisch and Frei Otto were in charge of designing and building the stadium that would host the Olympic Games in Munich 1972. Little did they know that they were building one of the most iconic stadiums in the World?



Distinctive, unique and outstanding, with its spectacular construction under the iconic roof, the Munich Olympic Stadium is not only the architectural centerpiece of the Olympic Park – since its opening in 1972 for the summer Olympics, it has also always been the most important venue of the biggest and greatest events in sports.

With peaks and valleys echoing the nearby Alps, the vast canopy of the Munich Olympic Stadium has been a local landmark. Intended to present a new face for post-war Germany, the stadium—strikingly modernist in character—was meant to stand in harmony with its surroundings.

Despite these modest intentions, however, controversy surrounded the project from its outset, which centered on skyrocketing costs, the erosion of local heritage, and the grim specter of Germany’s recent past.

The decision to hold the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich held considerable political significance for the republic of West Germany. The international spectacle of the Games was one of the nation’s best chances to build a new image for itself.

From 1931 to 1939 Munich Airport was located on the Oberwiesenfeld. After the World War II, the debris rubble

from the bombing of the city was piled up, from which the Olympic Mountain emerged.

This was intentionally created oval, so that it could be used as a tribune foundation for a stadium to the already existing ideas were.

In February 1967, an architectural competition was announced and a total of 104 drafts were submitted, one of which came from architect Günter Behnisch and his associate, Fritz Auer, who planned to build the stadium, the Olympic Hall and the swimming pool closely adjacent to each other west of the Olympic Tower.


About 436 kilometers of steel cables were strung between fifty-eight cast steel pylons, supporting a sinuous canopy composed of eight thousand Plexiglass panels. The enormous structure ultimately covered almost 75,000 square meters, making it the most ambitious construction project West Germany had ever seen. The roof of the Olympic Stadium in Munich, which covers and unifies the stadium, tracks and pools, was developed based on the use of computerized mathematical procedures in determining their form and behavior, resulting in an architectural form of ‘minimal surfaces’.

While Otto’s vision of a light, cost-efficient structure did not come to pass, site planning succeeded in achieving Behnisch’s goal to distance the new Olympic Park from its fascist predecessor. With its clear axes and bold Neo-classical buildings, Werner March’s design for the 1936 Berlin Olympics was an architectural boast, proclaiming the power of the Third Reich through its visual domination of its surroundings.

In contrast, Munich’s stadium stood equal with—even subordinate to—an environment of hills, streams, and small lakes.

Colors such as red, gold, and purple were also deemed suggestive of dictatorship and therefore eschewed in favor of the natural blues and greens of the Bavarian countryside – ironically paying respect to the local heritage the design was accused of disregarding altogether.The Summer Olympic Games in 1972 with the competitions in track and field and brilliant winners like Klaus Wolfermann, Ulrike Meyfarth or Heide Rosendahl; in football location of the World Cup in 1974 with Gerd Müller scoring the decisive goal in the final against the Netherlands and the European Championship 1988, when Marco van Basten marked one of the best goals of the century and helped Holland to win the title. Furthermore, this stadium has witnessed many unforgotten international matches of the German football team, from the inaugural match in May 1972 against the USSR (4-1) until the most remarkable 1-5 defeat against England in a World Cup Qualifier in 2001.

Moreover the Olympic Stadium has been the home ground for Bayern Munich for more than three decades. In the 33 years from 1972 to 2005, Bayern had played here the team has celebrated 17 German championships in the Stadium or had at least laid the foundation for it.

In its history, the Olympic Stadium has experienced many more significant major events in sports. But also in terms of culture the Olympic Stadium is still one of Germany’s most important and leading locations. AC/DC, Robbie Williams, Genesis, Michael Jackson, the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, the Three Tenors – that’s enough names to impress. Many stars of music have delivered impressive open-air concerts in front of a sold out crowd. There have also been some Rock festivals, like “Rock im Park” or the “Rockavaria” in 2015, lasting several days and drawing tens of thousands of music lovers into the Stadium.

The stadium still stands, its innovative canopy slated to undergo a renovation costing over 100 million EUR, having survived public outcry and its own designer’s frustrated intentions to become a lasting monument for the people of modern Germany.

Since 12 September 1972, a total of 51.6 million spectators have been drawn to over 2000 events in this glorious Olympic stadium. And over 13.6 million visitors have taken the stadium tour. Munich’s Olympic Stadium has been a crowd puller ever since the first games were held – and it will continue to be one for many years to come.

Meeting of the Twains – The Panama Canal in Panama

One of the world’s greatest marvels, the Panama Canal stretches 80 kms from Panama City on the Pacific side to Colón on the Atlantic side. Its locks paved the course for the dimensions of ships built worldwide. This artificial Canal connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific and serves as a conduit for maritime trade.



As a tribute to the most important civil engineering works of the 20th century, the American Society of Civil Engineers prepared a ranking of the seven wonders of the modern world. Among them is the Panama Canal, the oldest construction on a list in which it rubs shoulders with the Empire State Building in New York, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the Eurotunnel linking France and the United Kingdom.

Opened on 15 August 1914, the construction of the canal became a titanic struggle against the elements: malaria, yellow fever, landslides, floods and a humid climate. More than a century later, the great transoceanic bridge that joins the Pacific and the Atlantic through the Isthmus of Panama is still operational and now accommodates larger vessels, thanks to its subsequent expansion.

From its opening until 1979, the Panama Canal was controlled exclusively by the United States In 1979, however, control of the canal passed to the Panama Canal Commission, a joint agency of the United States and the Republic of Panama, and complete control passed to Panama at noon on December 31, 1999. Although, administration of the canal is the responsibility of the Panama Canal Authority.

The canal has three sets of double locks. They are Miraflores and Pedro Miguel on the Pacific side and Gatún on the Atlantic. A 10-year expansion completed in 2016 added two three-chambered locks, allowing the passage of super-sized ‘neoPanamax’ ships. These were Cocoli on the Pacific and Agua Clara on the Atlantic. Between the locks, ships pass through a huge artificial lake, Lago Gatún, created by the Gatún Dam across the Río Chagres, and the Culebra Cut, a 12.7km trough through the mountains. With each ship’s passage, an astonishing 197 million liters of fresh water is released into the ocean.

A lock is a device used for raising and lowering boats, ships and other watercraft between stretches of water of different levels on river and canal waterways. The locks at Panama Canal are operated by gravity flow of water from Gatún, Alajuela, and Miraflores lakes. The locks are of such uniform length, width, and depth that those dimensions are used to make ships even today. These locks were built in pairs to permit the simultaneous transit of vessels in either direction. Each lock gate has two leaves, 65 feet wide and 6.5 feet thick, set on hinges. The gates are powered by electric motors recessed in the lock walls.

One or more pilots, who board each ship before it leaves the terminus, take ships through the canal. With waiting time, it takes ships a good 25 hours to navigate. The average transit time, once a vessel has been authorized to proceed, is about 10 hours from one end of the canal to the other.

As early as the 16th century, the Spanish recognized the advantages of a canal across the Central American isthmus. Eventually two routes came to be considered, one through Panama and the other through Nicaragua.


The first attempt to build a canal across the Isthmus of Panama began in 1881 after the Colombian government granted a concession to the privately owned Compagnie Universelle du Canal Interocéanique. The company, under the leadership of Ferdinand de Lesseps, was financed by French capital from countless small investors.

Impetus for selecting the route through Panama increased with the construction (by the United States) of the Panama Railroad in the mid-19th century. The eventual route of the canal closely followed that of the railroad.The first attempt to build a canal across the Isthmus of Panama began in 1881 after the Colombian government granted a concession to the privately owned Compagnie Universelle du Canal Interocéanique. The company, under the leadership of Ferdinand de Lesseps, was financed by French capital from countless small investors. Because of Lesseps’s recent triumph building the Suez Canal, he was able to attract public support for building a sea-level canal across Panama.

Progress was costly and extremely slow. As a cost-saving measure, the plans for a sea-level canal were eventually dropped in favour of a high-level lock-type canal, but that change had little effect. With no foreseeable return on its investment, the French public lost faith in the project and its leader.

By the summer of 1904, work under American administration was under way all along the canal route. The French had abandoned the sea-level approach in favour of a high-level canal with locks, and indeed that was desirable as it would cost less and would eliminate potential problems arising from differences in sea levels at either end of the waterway. Yet engineers still disagreed on the type of canal that should be built, and they faced another problem of equal importance: how to manage the Chagres River, which rose in the northeast highland region of Panama and emptied into the Atlantic.

In 1906, Roosevelt resolved the matter when he sided with Chief Engineer John Frank Stevens, who argued for a lock-type canal. The plan ultimately approved by Congress was similar in all essential respects to the one proposed by Lépinay but rejected by Lesseps.

Included in the proposal was an enormous earthen dam across the Chagres River at Gatún.


The dam created what was then the largest artificial lake in the world (Gatún Lake), and at the same time, it brought a considerable part of the Chagres River under control. So massive was the lake that it was able to accommodate the greater part of the river even at flood stage. Perhaps more important, the man-made lake formed more than 20 miles (32 km) of the canal route.

Where tropical fevers—yellow fever and malaria in particular—had decimated the ranks of French workers with an estimated loss of over 20,000 lives, those in charge of the American effort were determined to prevent the same thing from happening again. American medical staff understood how the diseases were transmitted and how they could be controlled, and by 1906 the Canal Zone had become safer for work to resume in earnest. Even with such precautions, accidents and disease claimed the lives of 5,609 workers during the American effort. At times more than 40,000 people were employed on the project, mostly labourers from the West Indian islands of Barbados, Martinique, and Guadeloupe, though many engineers, administrators, and skilled tradesmen were from the United States.

Despite all of those challenges, the canal was opened to traffic on August 15, 1914, more than three decades after the first attempt to build the canal had begun. It remains the greatest engineering feat yet attempted.

Underwater Marmaray Tunnel in Turkey Connects Europe with Asia

First suggested by the Ottoman sultan Abdülmejid in 1860, Marmaray Tunnel is a railway tunnel under the Bosphorus strait, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. Today, let’s take a ride through this architectural marvel.



AS a country, Turkey is often described as a bridge between Europe and Asia due to its distinct geographical location. But now, a multi-billion dollar underwater railway tunnel will also be connecting the two continents. The Marmaray link, named by combining the Sea of Marmara with “ray,” meaning rail in Turkish, is a part of $4.5 billion, 76-kilometer mega-project launched by the Turkish Government in way back in 2004.
Alternately described as the long-lost link between Europe and Asia or the end of the city of Istanbul as we know it, it is the world’s deepest underwater railway tunnel located under the Bosphorus. Almost a mile of the 8.5-mile (13.6km) tunnel between the European and Asian sides of Turkey’s largest city is immersed under 56 metres of water.
Around 12 million people travel into and through the city of Istanbul every day and the Marmaray Project provides mass transit for the city’s population. After about 10 years of intensive research and study, a funding agreement was struck in 1999 between the Republic of Turkey and the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation. This brought together 35% of the total $4.5 billion project funding and allowed the underwater tunnel to be constructed.
There are four main components of the Marmaray Project: the underwater railway tunnel, improvement of the Gebze-Haydarpasa and Sirkeci-Halkali suburban railway lines, electrical and mechanical works, and the procurement of new rolling stock. With the opening of the tunnel, commuter trains have started operating from Ayrılıkçeşme station (Asia) to Kazlıçeşme station (Europe).
It required extensive skill and engineering expertise to see a project like this see the light of the day. A Japanese-Turkish consortium led by Taisei undertook the construction contract. The firms in the consortium include Kumagai Gumi of Japan, Gama Endustri Tesisleri Imalat ve Montaj and Nurol Construction and Trade of Turkey.
This mammoth scale project would require budgets of a similar scale. It was financed by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation and the European Investment Bank. JBIC lent $950m under a long-term low-cost loan while EIB provided a €650bn soft loan.
The Bosphorus (Istanbul Strait) is crossed by a 1.4 kilometres-long earthquake-proofed immersed tube, assembled from 11 sections, each as long as 130 metres and weighing up to 18,000 tons. The sections will be placed down to 60 metres below sea level of which 55 metres will be in water and 4.6 metres in earth. This underwater tube will be accessed by bored tunnels from Kazlıçeşme on the European side and Ayrılıkçeşme on the Asian side of Istanbul.
The Marmaray Project involved the construction of a tunnel under the Istanbul Strait. The idea was first mooted in 1860 but the depth of the water negated using traditional seabed, or below, tunneling methods.
The tube tunnel consists of two running lines separated by a dividing wall, pre-cast in lengths of around 100m before towing into place across the sea and dropped into place for joining together and dewatering. This process caused the water pressure at the other end of the section to compress a rubber sealing gasket, making the joint water tight. Foundations were below each section once they were lowered into place, replacing temporary foundations.


The immersed tunnel is connected to the shore by tunnels bored using tunnel boring machines (TBMs) to produce separate bores for each running line, with connections at frequent intervals for emergency use.
The scheme also included the upgrading of 63km of existing suburban railway lines, rebuilding 37 stations and building three new ones. Platforms are 225m long, the equivalent of 10 carriage lengths. The stations are based on metro style operations but are also served by heavy rail trains capable of travelling at 100km/h (60mph) with an average speed between stations of 45km/h (28mph).
The Marmaray Project provides an east-west transport corridor with a connection at Yenkapi to the north-south metro line, also currently under construction.
This amazing link commences its shuttle every day at 06:00 am. Trains run every 5 to 10 minutes during most of the day, and the last trains run all the way till midnight. Signaling and communications form an important part of the new route to meet the demands of safely transporting 75,000 passengers per hour in the future with intensive operations.
The project also had to account for Turkey’s long history of violent earthquakes, and the tunnel’s position parallel to a major fault line. Transport minister Binali Yildirim has outlined the precautions, including that the tunnel is designed handle a quake of 9.0 magnitude due to construction that allows movement.
When it was finally made, forecasts estimated that by 2015 1.5 million trips per day would be made on the new route, rising to 1.7 million by 2025. Travel times were also greatly reduced for the people of Istanbul. In the opening year, travel timesaving was 25 million hours. The opening of the new rail link increased the percentage of rail passenger journeys in the Istanbul city from the 3.6% to a massive 28%.
All that still remains to be seen. But the Marmaray Tunnel has sped up trade, commerce and tourism exponentially. This might also affect real estate in and around Istanbul. But if you’re ever in Turkey and are in the mood to quickly travel from Europe to Asia, consider the Marmaray Tunnel.

The project also had to account for Turkey’s long history of violent earthquakes, and the tunnel’s position parallel to a major fault line. Transport minister Binali Yildirim has outlined the precautions, including that the tunnel is designed handle a quake of 9.0 magnitude due to construction that allows movement.


An Engineering Marvel – The Itaipu Dam in Brazil

Sometimes, when countries come together to create something bigger, for a larger cause, architectural marvels are born. One such example is the Itaipu Dam that was built over the Paraná River between Brazil and Paraguay in South America that was built to serve many generations to come. Let’s take a closer look…


In the 1960’s, the governments of Brazil and Paraguay respectively saw a way of working together on a project that used one of their shared resources to support the expanding electrical needs of their countries. This resource was the Paraná River, the seventh largest in the world, which formed a natural border between the two nations. The project was a massive dam that would harness the river’s energy and turn it into electrical power.

Thus, on July 22, 1966, the Brazilian and Paraguayan Ministers of Foreign Affairs signed a document agreeing to explore the possibility of building a dam and an associated hydroelectric plant. It wasn’t until February 1971, however, that the work actually started. Once construction was underway, there were still legal considerations to be handled. In particular, the country of Argentina, only a few miles south of the dam site, was concerned that in times of conflict, the dam could be used as a weapon to cause large-scale destruction. To quell these concerns, the three nations entered into a mutual agreement in October of 1979 on the amount of water that could be released at any time from the dam.

Today, the Itaipu Hydroelectric Dam is the largest operational hydroelectric energy producer in the world, with an installed generation capacity of 14 giga watts. The plant is operated by Itaipu Binacional and located on the border between Brazil and Paraguay. Energy generated by Itaipu helps meet demands of the two countries. About 90% of the energy generated by the plant is used by Brazil.

Construction of the dam began in February 1971 and cost a magnanimous sum of $19.6 bn. The first unit began generating power in May 1984. Later that year, the second generating unit started operating. And till 2009, Itaipu had 20 generating units, each with a capacity of 700MW.

Itaipu generated 94.68 billion kWh of energy back in 2008, sufficient to meet worldwide power consumption for two days. It is equal to the energy consumed by Paraguay for 11 years and by Argentina for one year. This energy was used to supply 87% of the electricity consumed in Paraguay and 19% as demanded by the Brazilian interconnected system.

But building this powerhouse of a dam was no easy task. During the planning stages, the engineers had to decide what type of dam was needed and how big it should be. A simple dam placed at the chosen spot on the river would have blocked it, but only would have created a lake 150 feet deep, not enough to produce all the power that was wanted. Instead, it was decided to make Itaipu not just a single dam but a series of dams 7.2 km long and 738 feet high. This would permit the creation of an immense lake that would allow the Itaipu to produce more hydroelectricity than any other dam in the world.

The first job the construction crew had to do was to divert the flow of the river around the construction site so that it was dry enough to start building. As the Paraná is one of the largest rivers in the world, this project in itself was a challenge. Over 50 million tons of rock and earth were removed to create a bypass channel for water that was 490 feet wide, 300 feet deep and 1.3 miles long. In addition, temporary cofferdams were placed in the river’s old path to keep water out of the construction zone. This river diversion was the largest ever attempted and took three years to complete. On October 1978, the concrete blocks were blasted out of the way to open the new channel and let the water pour through.

The construction of the dam itself required 40,000 workers, mostly recruited from Brazil. To house them, a whole new community was built including hospitals, schools, parks and churches. Sadly, 149 of these employees were killed during the construction project.


More than 12.3 million cubic meters of concrete were poured to create the dam. Some sections of concrete were so large that if allowed to set naturally in the hot sun they would not have dried properly, causing cracks and weak spots.

More than 12.3 million cubic meters of concrete were poured to create the dam. Some sections of concrete were so large that if allowed to set naturally in the hot sun they would not have dried properly, causing cracks and weak spots. To avoid this, large-scale refrigeration plants equivalent to almost 50,000 domestic deep freezers were used to cool the concrete while it hardened. In addition, enough iron and steel were used during the construction to build 380 copies of the Eiffel Tower. More than 8.5 times the rock and soil were moved in the building of the dam than was needed to cut the channel tunnel between England and France.

The construction also used 15 times more concrete than the “Chunnel.”

On October 13, 1982, the dam was completed to the point where the diversion channel could be closed and the lake filled. On May 5, 1984, the first of the power-generating units was completed and brought on-line to officially open the dam. The rest of the units were installed over the next seven years, slowly increasing the capacity of the dam each year.


Waiting to Exhale – The Mall of the World in Dubai

The tallest building, the most extravagant lifestyles and malls large enough to satiate the world’s craziest shopaholics – Dubai is in competition with itself in setting new benchmarks in the world of shopping…



From a dessert city to a thriving, flourishing megapolis, Dubai’s phenomenal growth story is well known all over the world. What started as a preferred travel destination in the Middle East, soon became the world’s favourite shopping destination and now, realty center with the tallest, most luxurious buildings. Dubai is anyone’s shopping fantasy– boasting of the best of brands, retailers, traditional souks, endless outlets for duty free goods, and designer malls from heaven. And then there’s the fact that Dubai seems to be very keen on maintaining this status and thus, keeps coming up with various people-friendly promotions and festivals to attract tourists so that ensure they have a shopping experience unlike any they’ve had before.

When it comes to shopping malls, Dubai breaks many boundaries in terms of size and style. From Dubai Mall, which is the largest shopping mall in the world and houses a private, indoor ice rink, an aquarium where you can dive-in with sharks, and an amusement centre, complete with daring rides, to the Mall of the Emirates, home to the world’s largest indoor ski slope – Dubai’s malls offer so much more than just a shopping experience.
But all this is set to change. There’s a new mall coming up in Dubai.


And it is no ordinary mall. Dubai’s Mall of the World will be a colossal domed structure nine times bigger than the Mall of America. When it opens in 2029, it will be temperature-controlled, feature thousands of hotel rooms and have its own transit line. Mall of the World is a project to build the largest shopping center of its kind in the world, which envisions a fully air-conditioned city, comprising more than 48 million square feet of retail space.

Mall of the World was originally announced in November 2012 and was planned to be the largest shopping mall in the world, to be located in Mohammed bin Rashid City, a mixed-use development in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. In August 2016, Dubai Holding announced Mall of the World would be relocated to Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed Road. The original plan includes eight million square feet of shopping areas, the largest indoor game park in the world with a glass dome that can be opened during the winter time, and areas for theaters, cultural events, medical tourism, and about 20,000 hotel rooms. The mall is expected to be able to receive 180 million visitors annually. That’s more people visiting a mall than living in Russia.

Mall of the World will also introduce an innovative concept of an integrated pedestrian city connected to the mall and offering a wide range of leisure, retail, cultural, wellness, recreation and hospitality options under the same roof.

Tourists will be able to enjoy a weeklong stay without the need to leave the city or use a car.

The 7 km long promenade connecting all facilities will be covered during the summer and open during the winter, ensuring pleasant temperatures throughout the year.

The project boasts of over 100 hotels and serviced apartments buildings, including 20,000 hotel rooms. It will include designated parking areas with a capacity to host up to 50,000 cars on the ground level.

Another component of Mall of the World is the Wellness District, which will cover a total area of 3 million sq. ft. dedicated to providing wellness and rejuvenation services. It will offer a holistic experience to medical tourists and their families, ensuring access to quality healthcare, specialized surgical procedures and cosmetic treatments, wellness facilities and high-end hospitality options.

It’s been over six years since the inception of the project and with a few more years to completion, work is progressing on track and is currently in the detailed design stage. The mega project, which was launched in 2014 by state-owned Dubai Holding, is a 15-year development. The funding for the project, estimated to cost a whopping 80bn Dirhams, will be distributed across the entire time span. Mall of the World will be divided into four phases with the first phase slated for completion before Expo 2020. Phase one will comprise at least 25 per cent of the entire project with construction scheduled to begin next year.


The History of Budapest’s Famed Tram Transport

Budapest, the famed Hungarian city is well-known for world-famous opera houses, relaxing baths, local brews, its imposing Parliament Building and of course, the historical Chain Bridge. But what really gets the people of Budapest moving, is the impeccable punctuality of the city’s tram network. It’s ages old, still functional and very fascinating. So sit back and buckle up for one of the most interesting history lessons in the world of trams…



To talk about the tram network of Budapest, we have to go back some 120 years. And Budapest from that long ago was very different from the Budapest that we see now. Back then, from the tram windows, the residents would have seen the Great Boulevard under construction, the House of Parliament growing out of the earth on the right side bank of the River Danube, new bridges spanning over the River to connect Buda and Pest or the birth of the first underground railway of the continent. There were times when trams were kept count of as an extremely modern means of transportation, and a very long time ago, carts pulled by horses were the coolest vehicles in Budapest on their cobbled streets.

Budapest came into existence in 1873 with the amalgamation of Buda, Pest and Óbuda after the Austro-Hungarian Agreement of Compromise. By the end of the 19th

century, Budapest became Europe’s youngest metropolis. The number of its residences tripled, the number of its buildings doubled. During the years of the amalgamation, the construction of the Margaret Bridge, the second bridge over the Danube, had already started making impressive progress.

With the merger of Buda and Pest, Budapest Public Iron Road Company was born and they launched a horse tramway service on the bridge a year later. In 1866, the streets of Pest were one of the first in the world to establish horse tramway traffic. By 1885, a network of as many as 15 horse tramway lines was operated.
Different flags on the carriages distinguished the different lines. As time passed, the omnibuses and horse tramways were not enough in satisfying the ever-increasing travel demands in the quickly growing capital.


The electric tramcars manufactured by Siemens created a great sensation. Due to their success, another public tramway system was ordered and built in May 1882 near Berlin. The great global electrification wave began only in the 1890s, so it you won’t be wrong in concluding that the Budapest tramway led this revolution.

That’s when the city decided to high engineers to set up the construction of a public railroad with carriages of electric traction in the city. The city issued permission for the establishment of a test-line and in September 1887, the Ministry of Commerce and Transport began the licensing process. As the Municipal Council of Public Projects did not approve the construction of overhead catenaries in the inner city, Siemens developed a conduit system for them.

It was hardly seven years or so since the first public electric tramway line had been inaugurated in May 1881 at the Gross-Lichterfelde, near Berlin. The electric tramcars manufactured by Siemens created a great sensation. Due to their success, another public tramway system was ordered and built in May 1882 near Berlin. The great global electrification wave began only in the 1890s, so it you won’t be wrong in concluding that the Budapest tramway led this revolution.

And on 1st October 1887, the Ministry issued the permission for the 1 km long tram test-line between Nyugati Railway Station and Király Street. By the end of the following month, it had already been put into operation. On the next Monday, at around 2:30 in the afternoon, the first tram rolled out on to the street amongst great cheer and excitement of the people.

A temporary tram depot was built in front of the Nyugati Railway Station. On the 1000 mm gauge track, two motor carriages and a tow-car carried the passengers. The speed limit was set to 10 km/hour, but Andrássy Street had to be crossed at even a lower speed. And they took this really low speed limit very seriously.

A mounted policeman was posted there to watch if this speed limit was kept. After dark, like most vehicles, a white lamp had to be lit at the front of the train and a red lamp at the rear.

In 1888 Mór Balázs, Lindheim & Partner and Siemens et Halske founded Budapesti Városi Vasút, BVV or better known as Budapest City Rail Road Co. everywhere else. The first normal gauge line of Budapest which was 1435 mm in width was put in operation on the route of Egyetem Square – Stáció Street – Köztemető Street. In the same year they handed over a line in Podmaniczky Street, too. And after its successful execution, BVV demolished the track of the test-railway on the Great Boulevard and built a normal gauge track on its place. In the following year the Company under the name of Budapesti Villamos Városi Vasút Rt. i.e. BVVV (Budapest Electric City Railway Ltd.) continued its activity. This Company put the first steam-propelled public railway in operation in 1891 on the route of Rókus Hospital – Salgótarjáni Street – Újköztemető.

This was the birth of the Budapest tramway. At the beginning of the 20th Century, there were as many as seven tramway companies in the streets of Budapest. They proved to bring about healthy competition in terms of prices and service that in turn, helped the passengers. In the last years of World War I, there were 1072 electric railroad vehicles in operation in Budapest and on its outskirts. This rolling stock carried more than 382 million passengers in 1918.

In the era between the two world wars a unified number system on the vehicles was introduced. As the increasing passenger traffic created a growing demand, even in the first years a number of vehicles gone obsolete were modernized and new vehicles were purchased. In the 1930s, development of the maintenance plants, depots and traffic operation plants took place together with the modernization of the traffic operation technology and the network, as well. The economic crisis, the financial state of the country then World War II put off the realization of the great conceptions. During the siege of Budapest – when the Soviet army and the German Wermacht were fighting a desperate battle in the streets of Budapest – the rolling stock, the track network and the facilities suffered enormous damages. 84 per cent of the overhead line network was destroyed. In 1962 new articulated test vehicles were developed from UV types 3235 and 3258. Based on a programme in the 1950s, the old wooden frames of the tramcars were changed to steel frames.

During the street fights of the revolution of 1956, more than two thirds of the overhead lines were destroyed, 109 tramcars were damaged or became completely useless. Ten years after the end of World War II, the streets and transport of Budapest were still in a deplorable state.

Today BKV Ltd. is operating in the form of a privately held corporation. The rolling stock of the tram mode consists of 120 Ganz type, articulated cars, 1 Hungaroplan type, 40 Combinos, 76 TW 6000 Hannover tramcars, 240+80 i.e. 320 vehicles of Tatra T5C5 and T5C5K types are in operation in passenger transport on 24 routes.

If you were to ever visit, you’d still see these bright yellow trams passing through the city. And if you are a curious cat, you can head to one of their many museums to take a look at all the types of trams that lined the city in the yesteryears.