Write, Photos:Selin Alemdar
Built in the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, Çengelhan, one of Ankara’s oldest centers of trade, has been brought back to life by the Rahmi M. Koç Museum.
Most of the buildings in the Hanlar Quarter were built in the 16th and the 17th centuries, when the Ottoman Empire was strong. As the number of traders, craftsmen, and artisans around the citadel in Ankara increased, the need for building new shops and arcades arose, hence the Hanlar Quarter appeared. Çengelhan and Çukurhan are two of the business arcades built during that era.
Çengelhan, which was located on the Silk Road during the Ottoman era, was one of the busiest trade centers at the time,being frequented by Anatolian caravans. Later, Çengelhan was used to store Angora wool. Eighteen to twenty tenants from prominent Ankara families, including the Kınacıs and Bulgurlus, used this place to store rice, angora wool, and fleece, and also used it as a tannery. Only in the 1980s was it recognized as “a historical monument to be preserved” by the General Directorate of Foundations.
After remaining empty for many long years, the building, belonging to the General Directorate of Foundations, which works under the Prime Ministry of the Republic of Turkey, was rented by the Rahmi Koç Museology and Culture Foundation, because that Çengelhan was where Vehbi Koç, the founder of Koç Holding, entered commerce. Çengelhan was restored between 2003 and 2005, after which it became the first industrial museum in Ankara.
Çengelhan is situated opposite the main entrance of Ankara Citadel, near the covered bazaar, in a location that was known as At Pazarı (“Horse Market”). As one of the most prominent classical Ottoman urban arcades with its rectangular architecture, which is almost square in shape, Çengelhan features an open courtyard in its center. Restored to its original form, today, this courtyard is protected by a glass enclosure.
History by the Roomful
Outside the two-story walls, there are shops with vaulted archways lined side by side. The rectangular building in the middle of the central courtyard was home to a shop once used by Vehbi Koç, the founder of Koç Holding, when he first entered commerce.
In Rahmi Koç’s Museum, there are over eight hundred items that show the history of several industries, from the maritime business to overland transportation and from aviation and medicine, in a total of thirty-two rooms. The museum’s inventory became richer through various donations in addition to the Rahmi Koç collection, and there are many early examples of technical tools. A variety of equipment is on display here, including the very first typewriter that managed to reach us from the dusty pages of history, the first black and white television, and the first washing machine. While the sections of Land Transportation, Machines, Medicine, and Daily Life, as well as Vehbi Koç’s shop are located on the ground floor of the museum, the Aviation, Rahmi M. Koç and Atatürk Collection, Maritime, Scientific Equipment, Communication, Models and Toys, and Railway Transportation Vehicles sections are located on the first floor.
After visiting the museum, you can take a break at the Çengelhan Divan Brasserie, decorated in Ottoman style, which has a seating capacity of eighty and is capable of hosting up to 250 people for cocktail parties, and enjoy select dishes on the menu comprised of contemporary versions of traditional Ottoman dishes.
You can also enjoy a cup of coffee or tea while looking upon a characteristic view of Ankara at Çengelhan Divan Café, located on the first floor of the museum. Meanwhile, the exhibition hall, on the ground floor of the museum, is the meeting place of art lovers with its painting, photography, and sculpture exhibitions.
Çukurhan, which has an important place in Ankara’s commercial life with roots dating back to the 16th century, is next door to Çengelhan. Having been renovated after two and a half years of intricate work, the building now serves as a boutique hotel. The hotel has nineteen rooms decorated with antique furniture from private collections.
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Open six days a week, excepting Mondays, the museum awaits visitors from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.