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HISTORY

The Rahmi M Koç Museum is fortunate to be housed in two splendid, historical building complexes on the shores of the Golden Horn, at the heart of old Istanbul. These buildings are themselves icons of industrial archaeology, which makes it all the more appropriate that they now host our collection of industrial exhibits.

 
The Lengerhane


Now a Class II historical monument, this former Ottoman Navy anchor foundry was constructed on the 12th Century foundations of a Byzantine building during the reign of Sultan Ahmet III. (By the way, 'lenger' means 'anchor and chain', and 'hane' means 'house'). The building was subsequently restored in the reign of Sultan Selim III (1789 - 1807), before passing into the ownership of Ministry of Finance and finally, in the Republican era, the Turkish State Monopolies' Cibali Tobacco factory. The roof of the Lengerhane was largely destroyed by fire in 1984 and the building was effectively abandoned until it was purchased by the Rahmi M Koç Museum and Culture Foundation in 1991.
 
The Hasköy Dockyard


This historic dockyard was founded in 1861 by the former Ottoman Maritime Company (Sirket-I Hayriye) for the maintenance and repair of its own ships. The yard initially comprised just two workshop buildings, and was gradually extended as needs and opportunities arose. A 45m long cradle, powered by a steam capstan was constructed in 1884: later, in 1910, a second cradle was added and the capstan converted to electric power.
Some of the earliest ferry boats were constructed here, including public favourites such as the Kocatas and Sariyer vessels laid down in 1938 and in service for nearly half a century. The dockyard went through many changes of State Ownership before ending up under the control of the Ministry of Communications In 1984. It was finally purchased by the Rahmi M Koç Museum and Culture Foundation in 1996.
 
The Restoration


The Rahmi M Koç Museum was founded in the Lengerhane building. The Lengerhane itself had been purchased in 1991 and was the subject of a thorough and sympathetic restoration by the firm of Garanti Koza. The original building was supplemented by an underground gallery reached by a long glazed ramp, and finally opened in December 1994. The first phase of the Museum rapidly outgrew itself, and in 1996 the Hasköy Dockyard, then just a ruin on the shores of the Golden Horn opposite the Lengerhane, was purchased. 14 derelict buildings plus the historic ship cradle and lathes were faithfully restored to their original condition, and the second phase opened to the public in July 2001. The museum now has more than 11,000 square metres of galleries.
 
The ‘TEKEL’ land


In 2004 the Rahmi M. Koç Museology and Culture Foundation bid successfully in a tender for the sale of the adjoining parcel of land to the North of the Museum, which formerly belonged to the Turkish Alcohol and Cigarette Monopoly TEKEL. For a while the 7,000m2 area was used as extra parking and a children’s playground, but after permission was received to build on the land, the following were constructed, and opened in 2007:
  • Railway station and sidings for the Hasköy-Sütlüce Railway (60cm narrow gauge)
  • Boathouse for the Koç University rowing team
  • Covered display of steam pumping engines form the Elmalı Dam
  • Covered display of classic aircraft, including the salvaged B-24 ‘Hadley’s Harem’
  • Windmill-driven water pump
  • The sheerlegs from the floating crane barge ‘Turgut Alp’
  • A merry-go-round and children’s playground
  • A car park
 

 

Surroundings
While you're in the area, take the chance to visit some of Istanbul's oldest and most interesting districts…


Fener and Balat
Located just across the Golden Horn from Hasköy, these are two very conservative and religious districts, with much evidence of the former diversity of the city's citizens - the area abounds in relics of Jewish and Christian society as well as ancient and modern Islam. Highlights include many Orthodox churches, the Fener Greek School, the Greek Patriarchate, and the Jewish Quarter in Balat. There are also great views of the Museum, from an unusual angle!


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