Did you know that with Nagelmackers, travel means luxury?
What is the connection between the heartache of Belgian engineer and industrialist Georges Nagelmackers and the legendary Orient Express? The Liège native spent ten months in the United States to forget his sweetheart. During his stay in America, he travelled extensively by train and observed the deficiencies of the Pullman sleeping cars in terms of comfort.
Once back in Europe, Nagelmackers founded the Compagnie des Wagons-Lits on 4 October 1872. The company's philosophy was to promote cross-border rail connections in Europe while guaranteeing the luxury to which wealthy travellers were accustomed. Two years later, in 1874, his company created the first sleeping car route between Paris and Vienna. Following its success, and encouraged by the Ottoman Empire's desire to open up, Georges Nagelmackers created the Orient-Express, which first took to the tracks in 1883. On this first trip, passengers travelled from Paris to the Bulgarian port of Varna by train and were then transported by steamer across the Black Sea to Constantinople. But from 1889 onwards, the entire journey was by train. It took just over 80 hours to travel the 3,200 km from Paris to Constantinople, in surroundings of unprecedented luxury that included sleeping cars, dining cars, lounges that housed smoking compartments and ladies' lounges. With its oriental carpets, velvet draperies, mahogany panelling, deep armchairs covered in Spanish leather, and sophisticated gastronomy, the Orient Express was unrivalled in terms of luxury and comfort. For years, it attracted the elite of European society, including royalty.
Visit the Orient Express exhibition at the Train World Museum to experience the luxury of this legendary train. And before you go, meet the father of luxury trains, the Belgian Georges Nagelmackers.