Written by Hanife Çelik

Bearing all the glory and beauty of history, Alay Mansion (Procession Kiosk) serves as “Literature Museum Library” named after Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar, a most notable writer of Turkish literature.

One of the oldest settlements, City of Istanbul harbors historical monuments, cultural and artistic elements around every corner. Procession Kiosk located at the Sur-i Sultani (Sultan City Wall) built by the command of Mehmet the Conqueror, is one of those. This elegant mansion was built in Western Europe architectural style in the early 19th century. The only structure within Topkapı Palace with windows looking over streets of Istanbul, was for Sultans to watch and receive the salute of processing Janissary. In 1928, Council Literature meetings were held here as well. Bearing all the glory and beauty of history, mansion today serves as Literature Museum Library named after Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar, a most notable writer of Turkish literature. Museum located at the left of Gülhane Park’s entrance hints that it is a hidden gem of the city, even before entering.

Opened in 2011, the museum section of the library features personal belongings of literary figures, manuscripts and first editions of various books. With walls decorated with Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar’s photographs from his student life, teaching years and personal life, takes the enthusiasts through a historical journey. In addition, Tanpınar’s glasses with an interesting design and the hat he wore when he was a member of the parliament are among collection items. Museum’s library section offers a rich archive to literature lovers. There are 8325 books in the library by more than 1000 writers, 1000 being on Istanbul. The room on the left right after you enter the kiosk is allocated to award winning books. In this section, there are over 700 books with awards from 60 different institutions including prestigious prizes such as Behçet Necatigil Poetry, Haldun Taner Story, Duygu Asena Novel, Sedat Simavi Literature, TRT Art and TDK Novel. In addition to books from Turkish literature in museum’s entrance hall, letters and manuscripts by Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar, Yahya Kemal Beyatlı, Necip Fazıl Kısakürek and Nazım Hikmet are displayed in sections particular to these writers. Besides, you can see the letters by foreign ambassadors and writers who lived in Istanbul.

Each room of this historical museum smacking of literature, is arranged as a separate section. You may select a book by Nobel prize winner Turkish author Orhan Pamuk or Şair (Poet) Nedim or another award-winning book in the room allocated to Nobel books, and sit at the divan by the window and read in peace. In the room, overlooking Gülhane Park and featuring books on aesthetic or literary theories, peaceful sounds of water and people from the park may accompany you. There are around 100 modern artliterature magazines in the library. If you are a follower of these magazines, you may access the current issues of tens of periodicals. Moreover, you may see the covers of 1932 ‘İçtihat’ magazine, 1936 ‘Ağaç’ magazine, 1938 ‘İnsan’ magazine, 1957 ‘Yenilik’ magazine and many more, and take a colorful journey in the history of Turkish press. Domed Hall in the Kiosk, once used by the Sultan, is allocated for world literature. This is also the section which features books published as part of TEDA project. Fundamentally a “translation and publishing” support project, TEDA concerns translation of classical and modern works of Turkish culture, arts and literature into languages other than Turkish by reputed publishing houses in respective countries, and having these published in the country or countries in which a language is spoken. According to the information we received from museum official Mr. Tuncay, tourists who visit the museum and see various works in their languages wish to get informed on these books, and they go to the nearest bookstore to purchase books on Turkish literature following their visits.

In the library, offering a bright and spacious reading environment with its high walls with engravings and wide windows, literature bull sessions, poem performances and international events are organized as well. In the venue where reading groups are hosted, museum officials aim to increase the activities to bring people together with literary figures. As the large hall on the ground floor is used for activities and exhibitions, the visitors may perform on the piano in the room if they wish. There are no fees for entrance or activities, and this museum where personnel treat you as guests, is waiting to be discovered both in terms of literature and history.

TO Visit
Museum can be visited six days of the week except Sundays, between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Address: Alemdar Mah. Inside Gülhane Park, Alay Köşkü (Procession Kiosk), Fatih – İstanbul.

Tel: 0212 520 20 81.

About the author

Hanife Çelik

Leave a Comment