FASCINATING HISTORY OF THE BUILDING OF KADIR HAS UNIVERSITY: A CISTERN, HAMMAM, TOBACCO FACTORY AND MUSEUM by Romina Habib

Our second fieldtrip started on an early and very cold Saturday morning from a very old part of Istanbul, Cibali, neighborhood where Kadir Has University’s main campus is situated. Building of the Kadir Has University consists of 4 layers. At the bottom layer there is a Byzantine cistern dating back to the 11th century and on top of it, ruins of a historical hammam belonging to the Ottoman Empire dating back to the 17th century and The Cibali Tobacco Factory built in late 19th century on top of this foundation.

Constantinople, a capital city with no rivers and few springs, needed water reservoir to satisfy the water need of the city. Most cisterns were built between the late 4th century and early 7th century as population increased. Water was carried into open and covered cisterns and they supplied water to about 40 public baths as well as monasteries and churches. The major cisterns were usually placed on hills.

A Byzantine cistern called “The Dark Fountain/ Karanlık Çeşme” is located at the museum site, inside the Rezan Has Museum Golden Horn Cultures. This cistern is one of the few Byzantine constructions along the Golden Horn apart from the city walls. With its 48 columns and 24 domes, the Dark Fountain was built to meet the water needs of the district. The cistern was brought to light during excavations in 1944 by Istanbul Archaeological Museums.
As you go trough to cistern you can smell the moisture and see moss and fungus on columns. The ground of the cistern was covered with archeological soil because the place was used for storage and dumping in Ottoman period.

After the conquest of Istanbul, the cistern was used as a hammam in the 17th century and witnessed the historical events of that period. The Cibali Tobacco Factory which built on top of the Byzantine cistern was an important institution during the Ottoman Empire. It changed the neighborhood socially and economically. Its large factory building housed both tobacco processing and cigarette production. There were 2162 people working there, mostly women. It is presumed that the cistern was used as a shelter by the workers of the tobacco factory in the pre-republican period. The cistern also served as a warehouse for food. With the establishment of republic the control of the factory passed to the state. The factory, most of which by that time had been shut down, was totally abandoned in 1995. After 2 years later, government handed the buildings over to Kadir Has University.

The architects in charge of the restoration and renovation worked together with university planners and have taken great care to preserve the original character and architectural integrity of the buildings, while transforming factory building into a university campus. After 4 years of restoration work, between 1998 and 2002, the Tekel Cibali Cigarette Factory was transformed from a warehouse that produced and sold tobacco into a university by the Kadir Has Foundation.
The main building of the Kadir Has University rooted in a history of 1400 years won the 2003 Europe Nostra Award, the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage as the best preserved building.

The history of the Kadir Has University building was an interesting one. It can be clearly realized and understood why it won the Europe Nostra Award. I knew that the building once was a tobacco factory but I didn’t know that it was founded on a Byzantine cistern. It is disappointing that responsible officials didn’t give us permission to take photos of the cistern. People who goes and sees this beautiful and impressive cistern can’t share their experience in detail due to lack of photos as evidence. As a result, the Byzantine cistern lacks the recognition and awareness of the inhabitant of Istanbul and tourists.

References
• Cyril Mango, Katherine M. Kiefer, William Loerke “Constantinople, Monuments of” The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. Ed. Alexander P. Kazhdan. © 1991, 2005 by Oxford University Press, Inc. The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium: (e-reference edition). Oxford University Press. Koc University. 8 January 2010 http://www.oxford-byzantium.com/entry?entry=t174.e1228.s0002

http://www.khas.edu.tr/en/about-khu/our-history.html.

http://www.rhm.org.tr/en/tarihce.php

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Published in: on January 8, 2010 at 18:00  Leave a Comment  

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