in Sightseeing

Change is dwelling through the veins of Istanbul if you look close enough. Although new buildings and structures seem to be invading the city, history still hosts today’s activities. Since Istanbul has a very rich history, lots of buildings from the past has remained and been restored to give another function.  Some continued to be a business or shopping centre, however some others became museums, art spaces or concert halls and started to serve to flourish the art scene in the city. Here we listed 5 unique art spaces in Istanbul which were converted from historical buildings.

1) Depo Istanbul


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Depo Istanbul is a cultural centre that hosts art exhibitions, workshops and collaborative platforms for artists from all around the world to discuss social and political issues. The building that Depo resides in was used to be a tobacco storage until 1950’s and was part of a significant industrial plan during first decades of the republic. 9th Istanbul Biennial in 2005 has become the rebirth of the structure and triggered several other exhibitions to take place in this abandoned building. In 2008, restoration process has started and Depo Istanbul installed its first exhibition in 2009. The current exhibition in Depo Istanbul is “Reality is Beautiful”. The exhibition consists of Mary Moon’s avant-garde paintings and installations that depict the city within the human body.


Address: Tütün Deposu Lüleci Hendek Caddesi No.12
Tophane 34425 Istanbul  Click for Google Maps

2) SantralIstanbul

santralIstanbul is one of the broadest restoration projects in Turkey. The structure was the Ottoman Empire’s first power plant which worked in the city level. It is located in the old industrial area of Istanbul, Haliç. From 1911 to 1983, power plant was actively being used to provide electricity to Istanbul. After being abandoned for 20 years , the power plant assigned to İstanbul Bilgi University in 2004 and renovation process has been started. Since 2007, santralIstanbul hosts remarkable international exhibitions, festivals and conferences. It also has rich collections of prominent Turkish artists such as Abidin Dino, Alaettin Aksoy, Deniz Bilgin, etc.


Address: Eski Silahtarağa Elektrik Santralı Kazım Karabekir Cad. No: 2
Eyüp 34060 Istanbul  Click for Google Maps

3) Rahmi Koç Museum

Rahmi Koç Museum is the first large-scale industrial museum in Turkey and it sheds light on industrial history with its rich collections of industrial machinery, scientific devices, etc.. The museum is located on the coast of Haliç which was famous for industry during Ottoman period. There are two main parts of the museum area. One was built in 12th century to be used as an anchor house. This building has been restored and opened as a museum in 1994. The other one was a dockyard which was built in 1861 to repair carriage ships and includes 14 buildings. The dockyard was opened for visitors in 2001. Last year, the museum launched a new collection of doll houses for the 20th anniversary of the museum.


Address:  Rahmi M. Koç Museum Hasköy Cad. No: 5                                                   Hasköy 34445  Istanbul  Click for Google Maps

4) Istanbul Modern


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As being the most pronounced contemporary art museum of Turkey, Istanbul Modern Museum is located in Karaköy, on the coast of Bosphorus. The area served as a port for many centuries and this specific building was built around 1957 as a warehouse. It served as Istanbul’s main port until 1990. After dedicated efforts of investors and the public, the building has been agreed on to be renovated into a modern art museum. It now hosts galleries, exhibitions, screenings and workshops which flourish art scene in Istanbul. Currently, there is the “Artists in Their Time” exhibition on artists’ perception of time in relation to their work.


Address: Meclis-i Mebusan Cad. Liman İşletmeleri Sahası Antrepo 4                   Karaköy 34433 Istanbul  Click for Google Maps

5) Yeldeğirmeni Sanat, Notre Dame Du Rosaire Church

Image from:ğirmeni – recently famous with it’s street art – is a relatively young cultural space that is opened in 2014. The building is an old church that was commenced in 19th century and shows the time’s aesthetic appearance. Nevertheless, the church was evacuated after the earthquake disaster in 1999 because of safety issues and remained abandoned for 15 years. With its unique atmosphere, Yeldeğirmeni hosts mainly classical and Jazz music recitals in a regular fashion.


Address: Rasimpaşa Mahallesi, İskele Sokak, No: 43/1                                                 Kadıköy  Istanbul Click for Google Maps

By visiting the places above, you can give yourself a chance to experience past and today simultaneously.




Duygu Özbağcı
Studied psychology, though still whimsical. Likes filmmaking, photography and writing. Loves yoga. Embraces Istanbul.