Istanbul is well-known with its silhouette of mosques and the Hagia Sophia. But in reality the historical part of Istanbul counts only 14 square km in approx. 5350 square km in the whole metropolitan area. The city is kind of exploding and the population has risen in the last 60 years more than 15 times. Trying to meet the necessities and interests of the population as well as of the global world is a great challenge to the city, planners and architects. Observing the development of Istanbul together with its rich historical heritage is a great excitement. But not only architecture and urban development, the art and design scene of Istanbul has developed tremendously and became internationally emancipated.
We are a team of four. Zeynep Kuban and Bilge Ar are academics in history of architecture; Alper Kurbak and Cem Erözü are practicing architects. We are a good mixture for guiding through the architecture of Istanbul.
Zeynep Kuban (1964) trained as an Archaeologist and Art Historian and obtained her MA and PhD at ITU Istanbul in History of Architecture, where she is a professor in the same department. She has been guiding in Turkey and especially Istanbul since 1989 (licence from the ministry of Tourism and Culture). Her courses and interests are in the historical development, continuities and disruptions, of Istanbul as well as the notion of History (the presence and absence of it) in contemporary building activities. (Guiding in German and English)
Bilge Ar (1981) studied Architecture at ITU Istanbul where she also obtained her M.A. and PhD in History of Architecture. She is an assistant professor at ITU in the department of History of Architecture. Since her student times she has been active for EASA and ever since guiding architectural schools and architects.
(Guiding in English)
Alper Kurbak (1984) has taken his degree as bachelor of architecture in Istanbul Technical University (ITU). He has been to Karlsruhe Institute of Technology as visiting scholar for a year and received his MSc degree in architectural design at ITU by his dissertation ‘Airport Related Urbanizations’. Alper has been very active in EASA during his studies. He worked as academician for four years at Istanbul Maltepe University. He is currently a PhD Candidate at ITU and a practicing architecture. (Guiding in English)
Cem Erözü (1963) studied Architecture at ITU and spent many years in Vienna working and studying, he worked as a teaching assistant at ITU Design department between 1993 and 2006. Cem is the senior partner in Erözü Mimarlık Office. He has guiding experience since 1989 (Professional Licence from the Ministry of Tourism and Culture) and is a musician as well.
(Guiding in German)
You can always get a classical Istanbul tour if you like (we can also offer it) but as GA-Istanbul we prefer to help you to explore another Istanbul in tours of half, whole or several days, prepared according to your needs and wishes. A trip through Istanbul and its built environment can include many different topics, like housing, industrial zones and buildings, educational buildings, adaptive re-use of historical buildings, single and maybe tiny precious architectural projects squeezed into the city and their interiors as well as questions of art and design hidden in the craze of Istanbul.
Historical buildings are not restricted to Hagia Sophia, Sinan mosques, the Topkapi Palace and the Grand Bazaar. There are many interesting old buildings in the hustle and bustle of Istanbul, that nobody would ever show you-BUT we do. Of course there are many topics that we cannot cover by ourselves BUT through our academia network and our personal contacts we can find the adequate experts for your interests and create the contacts if requested. This city has a lot to offer that we can transmit in English, German and on request in other languages. We have discounts for students and prices vary according to the size of the groups. Contact us!!
If you do not want to think about all the possible options or you do not have a very certain aim, here you will find three different routes in which you can explore Istanbul from an architectural point of view. In variations of half and full day tours we give you insight into the contemporary building scene, show you the urban and architectural developments from the 1930’s to the present, as well as examples of restoration and adaptive reuse of historical buildings. They are all definitely only by foot to ensure the proposed time frame.
For prices contact us.
Old Town New Gazes
An architectural walk through the modern history of old Istanbul. Urban and architectural developments from the 19th, 20th and 21st century.
Duration: 4-5 hours
Meeting time:9 am/14.00 (not in winter)
Up to 20 persons
Meeting Point: Vezneciler Metro Station
-The Municipality Building in Saraçhane (by Nevzat Erol 1956) (outside) and the urban changes around it.
-İMÇ (Istanbul Manifaturacılar Çarşısı) Textile Wholesale Area by Tekeli-Sisa-Hepgüler 1960’s.
-SSK Building by Sedad Hakkı Eldem (1960s) (outside)
-Walk over the Golden Horn passing the new Metro Bridge to the Middle Age Genoese Quarter Galata. A glance at the Arap Camii, the former church of S.Domenico from the Middle Ages. Walk through the hardware district.
-Karaköy Square the entrance to the old banking district of 19th century, changed in the 20th century.
-SALT Galata,* the former Ottoman Bank from the end of the 19th century, restored in 2011 and reorganized into a New Art And Architecture Forum. *Some parts of SALT Galata are not accessible on Mondays.
-Ipera 25 Project-by Ahmet Alataş (2011) an example for the new infill in the historical context of the Genoese quarter. (outside)
End of the tour at Galata Tower or Tünel Square.
In Pursuit of Modernity and Beyond: Levent
A half day walking tour in Levent district, where an architectural story is starting in the 1950s as an ‘American Dream’ and transforming in the 70s into an industrial cluster with factories and gecekondu’s, to become a high rise commercial and business center in 90s. Today this district consists of these layers through which one can experience the history of modern Turkey by walking.
Duration: 4 hours
Meeting time: 9 am/14.00 (not in winter)
Up to 20 persons
Meeting point: M1 Levent Metro Station – “Levent Çarşı Exit”
-Levent District: Designed by Prof. Kemal Ahmet Aru and Prof. Rebii Gorbon in 1947 and known as one of the most important urban mass housing settlements.
-Kanyon Shopping Mall designed by Tabanlıoğlu Architects
-Levent Ofis designed by Molestina Architects – Swanke Hayden Connell as the first LEED Certificated Building in Turkey
-Levent Loft designed by Tabanlıoğlu Architects in 2007.
-Loft Bahçe designed by Tabanlıoğlu Architects in 2010.
-Soyak Kristal Tower designed by Pei Cobb Creed Partners – Has Mimarlık, completed in 2014
-Sapphire Istanbul designed by Tabanlıoğlu Architects in 2011, is the highest building in Turkey where its top terrace offers the 360° panorama of Istanbul.
-Ticaret Odası İlkokulu, designed by Uygur Architects in 2010, is a public school project as a part of earthquake prevention plan of 40 schools in Istanbul
Tour ends at M1 4.Levent Metro Station Entrance, centrally located to all means of public transportation. No interior visits except Kanyon and Sapphire Istanbul
A Section through the 20th and 21st century of Istanbul
This full day architectural walking tour provides the experience of buildings of a wide variety of functions with applications ranging between a large time period starting from the Early Republican era until contemporary recent projects. Our tour allows the viewer to get to know different approaches in architecture in relation with the developing urban fabric, changing political situations and changing tastes under global and local aspects in four of the very densely occupied neighborhoods of Istanbul; Taksim, Nişantaşı, Maçka and Beşiktaş.
Duration: 8 hours
Meeting time: 9 am
Up to 20 persons
Meeting point: Taksim Monument
- Municipal Library by Sedad Hakkı Eldem (1973-75).
-Intercontinental Hotel 1971, designed by Kemal Ahmet Aru and Hande Süher (Roof for an informative view)
-The State Radio House, 1945, designed by İsmail Utkular, Doğan Erginbaş, Ömer Günay (outside)
-Hilton Hotel, 1952 -1985(additions), first “International Style” building in Istanbul, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) + Sedad Hakkı Eldem
-Lütfi Kırdar Former Sports and Exhibition Hall (outside)
Lunch Break at Nişantaşı (free -but can be organized if requested)
-Milli Reasürans Building, 1990s, Şandor and Sevinç Hadi
-Walking through Maçka area
-İnönü House 1940’S by Rükneddin Güney and İnönü sculpture by Rudolf Belling
-Akaretler, first row houses in Istanbul – adaptive re-use projects, serving as hotels, residences and offices today, 1875, project started by Sarkis Balyan
-Beşiktaş Fish Market, designed by Gökhan Avcıoğlu (GAD)
-The Naval Museum, a recent competition project realised in 2013, by Teğet Mimarlık (except Mondays)
Tour finishes in Beşiktaş.