29 Ocak 2014 Çarşamba

Down By the Station

The architect of Sirkeci Train Station that opened to use in 1890 is none other than August Jachmund that we have previously mentioned in this blog about Deutche Orient Bank. When designing the station, Jachmund portrayed it as a conjecture of East and West.

While the station used to be by the Bosphorus when it was first built, later the building got landlocked with land reclamations. These days you can find truck drivers that have their destinations pinned on their collars waiting for customers by the main door of the station that is no longer being used (above picture).

During the construction of the station, the part that passes through Topkapı Palace’s garden and reaches Sirkeci was ordered to be built by Sultan Abdülaziz.

Sadly the Byzantium and Ottoman villas and palaces that were on the way were destructed at this time.

Once you are inside the station, do stop by at the Railways Museum. Alongside historical documents, railway scale models, photos, and various equipment; you get to explore the locomotive of a train.

Also within the station, Orient Express Restaurant thatwas formerly known as Gar Lokantası used to be a hotspot in the 1950s for household names of İstanbul to meet up. 

Inspired by this train menu photo, we bid you goodbye with famous singer Manço and famous group Kurtalan Ekspres’ famous song: Dönence. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjdZCInV3r4

Take care of yourselves,
Tracer of Istanbul

19 Ocak 2014 Pazar

From Light Watching Festivities to Fireworks

Çırağan Palace

The Palace was commissioned by Nevşehirli Damat İbrahim Pasha for his wife Fatma Sultan in 17th century on the ground then known as Kazancıoğlu Gardens. During the infamous Tulip Era, the palace gardens hosted light watching festivities where candles would be placed on turtles roaming the gardens, and on clams released on to the shore. As such, the palace earned the nickname çırağan, “light” in Farsi.

In Mahmut II’s reign the palace was destructed and another palace was built. This one as well was destructed as Abdülmecit wanted to replace it with a western style palace; however when he died, Abdülaziz ordered the palace to be finished in eastern style. The architects of the palace were from the famous Balyan family.

Used as the parliament in 1909, the building and many valuable artifacts such as Abdülhamit II’s private collection and Murat V’s library were destroyed in a fire. The only part of the palace that made it to our times is the granite bathhouse (hamam) of the palace.

 During the occupation of Istanbul, The French army occupied the building and it was called the Bizo Barracks. The Islamic monastery graves were destroyed during this occupation since soldiers believed there were gold inside the graves.

Handed over to the municipality in 1947,in 1968, unfortunately the centuries old trees of the garden’s palace were cut down and the Beşiktaş Stadium was built.

Used as a hotel since 1992 and occupies 76360 square meters. There is a bridge to visit the neighboring Yıldız Palace. Us; Istanbul Tracers, we pass under this bridge a lot, we hope that this bridge will stay safe for a long time.

You can click here for more information on the palace. 

Take care of yourselves,
Tracer of Istanbul

18 Ocak 2014 Cumartesi

The First Skyscraper of the City

Deutche Orient Bank

Have you ever paid any attention to this marvelous building also known as Germania Han? 

Designed by architect August Jachmund who also designed Sirkeci Train Station, this building was constructed between the years 1900 and 1910.

Its tower qualifies the building to be considered as one of the first skyscrapers of Istanbul. Facing the square, the tower is the most grandiose part of the triangular structure. While the entrance floor was used as a bank, upper floors were reserved for trade businesses.

Later bought by Yapı Kredi Bank, the building was renovated in 1997. You can check out the restoration details through this (But it's only in Turkish). While we were not allowed to take pictures inside the building, it is rumored that even this historical landmark will be turned into a hotel. Perhaps then we can show you what the inside looks like.

When you are visiting this building make sure you stop by at First Vakıf Han right near Deutche Orient Bank. This building was designed by Mimar Kemalettin, who was a student of August Jachmund and was influenced by him.

Take care of yourselves,
Tracer of Istanbul

8 Ocak 2014 Çarşamba

Plans of Independence

Atatürk Museum - Şişli

As you know by following your Istanbul Diary, this week we are visiting Atatürk Museum.

Arriving in Istanbul after World War I in 1918, Atatürk takes lodging in Madam Osep Kasapyan’s building in Şişli.Up until he left for Samsun in May 16th of 1919 he resides in this house with his mother, sister and aid-de-camp.

The building gets bought by Member of Parliament Tahsin Uzer from Erzurum, and gets rebought by the Municipality in 1927 to be opened to public in 1942.

A fire in 1962 damages the building, and after a restoration it gets reopened in 1981.

Decorated mostly in yellow and gold hues, the museum houses objects, clothes, stamps, photos, paintings and received gifts previously owned by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

While we visited the museum it strongly needed a renovation and from 1st of January the renovation started. On the 31st of December the museum will reopen its doors for the visitors; we certainly hope that this will get the attention it deserves and returns to its days of glory. 

You can find more details about the museum here.

Take care of yourselves,
Tracer of Istanbul

2 Ocak 2014 Perşembe

A Visit From the Past

The Grand Post Office - Sirkeci

We tour around, and perhaps inside it all the time; but have you ever stopped to study the Grand Post Office in full detail?

With a sign above its door that reads “Post Telegram Office”, the 3200 square meter building is 4 stories high.

The first postal body was founded during Mahmut the Second’s reign with the name Postahane-İ Amire. Its first location in 1840 was in the courtyard of  the New Mosque. People would stop by and ask if there were mail that day.

Since stamps were not in use, the postal fee was paid to whoever delivered the mail.

The Grand Post Office’s construction started in 1903 under the supervision of the famous architect Vedat Tek. While the Post Office was completed in 1909 by architect Muzaffer, it is speculated that even the individual stones used for the building’s front were designed by Vedat Tek.

Between the years 1927 and 1936 the building was used as a courthouse while also housing the broadcasting studio in the 1930s. Since 1958 the building is solely used for mail and telegram services and you can visit the PTT Istanbul Museum on the side of the building to glimpse at the history of this landmark.

While today the Grand Post Office is known for its long queues, back in the day it was known for its popularity and how difficult it were to get a special post box in the building.

The stain glasses that you immediately notice when you walk in were designed to take optimum advantage of the sunlight. Another gem people tend to pass by is the writing table. 

Take a moment here and use this beautiful historical tool for what it was built for: write a letter or a postcard for someone you care for. Surprise the ones you love with something meaningful in their post boxes instead bills for a change. In the end, what you write down is more likely to be remembered.