santralistanbul Energy Museum

Broad daylight pours in through large-scale arched windows, illuminating a hall that proudly presents itself as a cathedral of technology. The control desks appear to be altars, some of them as large as cupboards, others arranged in a semi-circle as if imitating a sacred choir. From here the eyes wander over a broad engine room containing four huge as well as ancient turbine generators made by AEG, Brown Boveri, Siemens and Thomson Houston. The former Ottoman power plant Silahtarağa on the Golden Horn of Istanbul owes much of its intact appearance to its meticulous restoration. Today it houses the santralistanbul Museum of Energy. santralistanbul is the name of the campusopened here in 2007 by Istanbul Bilgi University, one of the top foundation universities of Turkey. The museum's basement features interactive exhibits offering fun-meets-science experiments that focus on electricity and power generation. Right next door is the newly built Main Gallery for contemporary art exhibitions. The rest of the former power plant's premises is dominated by educational and administrative buildings of the University, a parking lot, several restaurants and an amphitheatre with a lakeside stage on the banks of the Golden Horn.

santralistanbul Energy Museum
Eski Silahtarağa Elektrik Santrali
Kazım Karabekir Cad. No: 2 Eyüp
34060 Istanbul
+90 (0) 212 - 3117809


“Tate alla turca” is one of the catchy names that labelled the cultural and scientific campus of santralistanbul, even before it was inaugurated. Similar to London's Tate Modern Gallery, a former power plant was conversed into a museum. However, thanks to German expertise, the emphasis was laid on the preservation of the industrial monument. Except for a footbridge for visitors and earthquake-resistant steel reinforcements the former engine room shows no changes as to the time when it was still working.

The Ottoman Empire's first power plant went into service in 1914. Until 1952 it was Istanbul's only electricity supplier, reaching a capacity peak of 120,000 kilowatts in 1956. Subsequently the power generation declined until the plant was decommissioned on 18 March 1983, followed by decades of disrepair. In 2004, Silahtarağa Power Plant was  allocated to İstanbul Bilgi University by the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources. With the establishment of the santralistanbul Campus, the founders of the University intended to revitalize a then neglected area. Cultural events, top-class expositions, museum workshops designed for all ages, living and working spaces for artists in residence as well as university activities aim to transform the plant into a centre of collaborative art and learning experiences. The site's industrial heritage comes to life in the Museum of Energy. Its opening ceremony in 2007 gave birth to Turkey's first industrial museum at all. One of the highlights is the control centre. Together with the turbine generators in the former engine room it represents a concept of conservation and restoration that attributes major importance on a documentary approach. The idea is to substantially reduce all interventions in order to unleash the full potential of the building's well preserved monumental scale. At the same time interactive exhibits offer experimental experiences and profound background information.

Recommended duration of visit: 2 Hours
Duration of a guided Tour: 45 Minutes
Admission: Free
Access for persons with disabilities: Available
Infrastructure for Children:
Visitor centre on site: yes
Gift and book shop on Site: yes

daily 9am-6pm

  • Guided tours optional
  • Tours in other languages
  • Guided tours for children