Whether you’re just looking for a quiet place to work or have serious scholarly aims, Istanbul has several research libraries that span the ages as well as languages. We rounded up the best libraries with a spectrum of books that span historical manuscripts but also the most modern coffee table books about fashion.
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Certainly one of the most beautiful libraries (and, therefore, often very crowded) to spend your day, SALT Galata is housed in the beautifully restored former Ottoman Bank building. With two floors and one of the fastest internet connections in the city, the library offers a large selection of books in languages including English, Turkish, and French. SALT also includes an art gallery in the basement, a lovely café with a terrace, a bookstore, and the modern Turkish restaurant Neolokal.
Vitali Hakko Creative Industries Library, Istanbul | Courtesy of Vakko
Housed in the architecturally forward-thinking Vakko Fashion Center in Nakkaştepe on the Asian side of Istanbul, the Vitali Hakko Creative Industries Library may be a bit out of the way, but completely worth the trip. Here, you’ll find a very modern space filled with excellent books on subject areas such as fashion, art, architecture, design, photography, film and much more, including limited editions and autographed copies.
Open since 1939, the Atatürk Kitaplığı is an institution when it comes to the city’s libraries. Having moved to its current location in 1981, the library is also an architectural spectacle with plenty of windows that allow for an excellent view of the Bosphorus. Even though the collection does not include a lot of books in English, some of the first Ottoman newspapers and a collection of postcards and maps are all very much worth a look.
Named after Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar, one of Turkey’s most important essayists and novelists, the Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar Literature Museum Library is housed within the 19th-century Alay Köşkü (Alay Manor) near the Gülhane Park of Topkapı Palace. Apart from special corners that exhibit the life and works of Turkey’s most renowned authors and a space that hosts workshops and award ceremonies, the library has more than 8,000 books. With more than 1,000 titles focusing on Istanbul, the collection also includes periodicals on literature and other art forms.
The historic Beyazıt State Library, which was established in 1884, is one of Istanbul’s most popular libraries lately due to a restoration project that united historical façades with contemporary architecture. The library has modern Turkish publications as well as a rare books collection that includes written works from the Ottoman era and other manuscripts in Ottoman, Arabic, and Persian, which are kept in air-conditioned glass cabins.
Known for its beautiful green campus and historic buildings, the Central Library of Istanbul University is equally impressive. One of the oldest and largest university libraries in Turkey, the collection includes manuscripts from the 15th century, in both Turkish and foreign languages, as well as printed works from the Turkish Republic.