This luxury train service, developed by Belgian businessman Georges Nagelmackers, was inaugurated in June 1883. It initially ran from Paris, France, to the Bulgarian port of Varna. Passengers could then ride on a steamship across the Black Sea to Constantinople (former name of Istanbul, Turkey). Starting in 1889, the complete journey could be made by train. The route left Paris and went via the French cities of Chalons, Nancy, and Strasbourg, and into Germany. It traveled through the German cities of Karlsruhe, Stuttgart, and Munich and through the Austrian cities of Salzburg, Linz, and Vienna. Next it crossed into Hungary, went through Gyor and Budapest, south to Belgrade, Yugoslavia, through Sofia, Bulgaria, and finally into Turkey.
Due to declining ridership, the Orient Express ceased operation in May 1977. In 1982, part of the line, the Venice-Simplon-Orient Express was revived by American James Sherwood. It runs on several lines between London, England, and Venice, Italy.
The Orient Express came to epitomize luxury transportation. The passenger cars were furnished with soft-leather armchairs, mahogany paneling, and Oriental rugs. Europe's wealthiest citizens, including members of royalty, rode aboard the Orient Express.
Sources: Nock, O. S. Encyclopedia of Railways, p. 239; "Orient Express." Encyclopaedia Britannica CD 97.