Kadir Has University is essentially a tobacco factory built in the 19th century. Located on the southern shores of the Golden Horn, this structure is also known as Cibali Tobacco Factory, as it is identified with the name of the district it is located in.
In the 19th century, tobacco was one of the main export products of the Ottoman Empire. For this reason, tobacco factories were built on the most beautiful shores of the city, such as the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn, due to easy ship transportation.
One of these iconic tobacco factories, located in Uskudar (Asian Side), hosts state theaters today. The factory in Cibali was acquired by Has Foundation in 1997 and was converted into a private university with a major restoration.
Cibali Tobacco Factory
Cibali Tobacco Factory was built in the 1800s. The building, which was first opened as a private initiative, was later transferred to the imperial treasury with the monopoly of tobacco.
With the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after the First World War and the establishment of the Republic of Turkey, the factory was nationalized. Many local cigarette brands of the young republic were produced here.
By the end of the 1900s, the factory, which was very old and remained in the modern city, stopped operating. In the 1990s it was rented by Has Foundation, which belonged to one of the city’s leading families.
Kadir Has University
After a successful restoration process carried out by the Has Foundation, the tobacco factory was converted into a private university and named Kadir Has University in honor of the father of the family.
The restoration of the building preserved the exterior of the building in its original form, while transforming the interior with modern architecture. For this successful restoration, the foundation received the Europa Nostra award given by the European Union.
Today, some old machines from the tobacco factory are exhibited inside Kadir Has University. This hall, which is open to tourists, also forms the entrance of a private museum called Rezan Has Museum.
Archaeological artifacts from some ancient civilizations in Anatolia (aka Asia Minor) are exhibited at the Rezan Has Museum. In addition, there are ruins of an old Byzantine cistern under the building. This cistern was also recently restored and opened to visitors.
Kadir Has University is an iconic structure of the Cibali district and is located in a position overlooking the Golden Horn. This building is also the first stop of my Fener Balat walking tours.
In this walking tour, we leave Istanbul’s classic tourist route and explore places off the beaten path. Cibali, Fener and Balat, some of the most cosmopolitan districts of the Ottoman period, have many unique stories.
Fener was a Greek district and Balat was a Jewish district during the Ottoman period. Traces of cosmopolitan life in these districts can still be clearly seen through mosques, churches and synagogues.
If you would like to discover the hidden treasures offered by these unique districts, you can book my private guided Fener and Balat tour. In order to contact me, please simply fill out the form on the contact page.
Writen by Serhat Engul