A Special Place Where The Old and The New Meet: Beta Yeni Han

The adventurous journey of the commodity goods from the producer to the consumer can be a long distance one where continents and countries must be crossed by caravans or it can be a one where the distance does hold no importance because the commodity goods can be accessed easily by the consumers because they’re produced locally. The places where commodity goods take a break or end their journey become more and more varied from past to present, they appear  as caravansaries built along the routes or as hans and covered bazaars in the cities.

Hans, which are considered the ancestors of today’s shopping malls, bring to mind undoubtfully not only its core meaning “old historical building” but they also make you think of the “history” behind them. However, we can’t simply explain hans which were key elements in the city planning, that developed in parallel with trade in the 15th century merely with history. These places which were shaped after the economic and social structure of the city are addressed by various disciplines such as city planning, architecture, art history, history. It opens the doors for various science fields thanks to its geographical location, architecture, economy, social and cultural impacts and its usage in daily life.  It’s a production and trade center for craft and related trades workers.  In the broader sense, its functions are to store and sell goods, to accommodate tradesmen for a short period of time where they can barter, and to be a place where production and trade activities happen regularly. Hans are two-three story buildings whose yard have shops on, whose floors have rooms where the travellers can rest in and whose ground floors contain places to tether animals. They’re named either after who built them or after the goods traded or the region they’re located in. Hans in the cities correspond to the caravansaries on the long roads. With Ottoman, hans become widespread in many places in the Anatolia.

New Han
On the historical peninsula in Istanbul, which moves with the times, there is a district called “Hans’ District”. This district includes Laleli, Beyazıt, Mercan, Kapalıçarşı, Mahmutpaşa ve Tahtakale. Hans can be classified after occupations classifications (e.g: Furriers’ Han, Thread sellers’ Han) Hans, which made history, both continue their existence and maintain their previous business life. There are some hans that are very popular apart from being a trade center. For example, Taşhan in Laleli is where the TV series “Binbir Gece” was shot and  Büyük Yeni Han in Eminönü is where Salkım Hanımın Taneleri and Ezel were shot. The tea house in Büyük Abud Efendi Han in Mahmutpaşa was used during the shootings of movie “Yoksul” in which Kemal Sunal starred. Let’s head to a historical building which is built centuries ago and customize the term “han” which is an important form in the Ottoman-Turkish architecture. Our address is Yeni Han, which is in Tahtakale district, on Hasırcılar Street andwe’re located in the axis of the area from the West exist of Spice Bazaar to Rüstempaşa Mosque. Previously known as Tahmis (where coffee is sold and/or roasted) Han, Emin Han or Hasırcılar Han …

From Stable To A Place Of Business
There is a saying “A cup of coffee forms a bond lasting 40 years” and there is no knowing how many bonds have been formed at this place because it was a focal point for coffee in the past. It was the place where the coffee arriving from the East was served to the West. Coffee was initially processed here, roasted, ground, stored and imported to Europe. This is why it’s known as “Tahmis Han”. Initially, it’s meant to be a resting place for traders coming from far away and a shelter (stable) for animals. With the everchanging city life, it changed its functions and became a multi-purpose area. Since it’s located near the harbor, and the population of the city was growing it became a place of business.  Meanwhile, this district where ateliers and shops are located is known as “Venetian District.”

What’s Left After The Fire
The building is rectangular shaped and has two courtyards, you can access it via Hasırcılar Street located in the north direction. The main gate is a round stone archway, followed by a tunnel vault which leads to the paved courtyard. The courtyard is surrounded with rooms in the east, west and south directions. In the East and West directions, there are six rooms each in the tunnel vaults and in the south direction, there are again five rooms in the tunnel vault. The corner rooms in the South direction can be accessed via corridors. In the corner where the East and the South meet there is a second courtyard. The building has an alternating wall structure consisting of two rows of bricks and one row of stones. The doors are made of forged iron and the windows are barred and their lids are made of forged iron. All the floors of the rooms are covered with hexagonal bricks which reflects the 18th century. Two story Yeni Han’s foundation was laid at the beginning of the 17th century and was transferred to Kazasker Abdülkadir Efendi Foundation in 1671. It’s upper story got destroyed in the fire. It got severely damaged in the earthquake in 1894. The city hall demolished the parts which pose danger carefully. Although it has been restored after the damages it sustained, only one story managed to survive.

What About, Now?
Beta Gıda has undertaken the restoration works and the han was made colorful, lively, up-to-date, modern without losing its historic fabric and spirit. You should definitely try coffee in this renewed place of business filled with coffee smells where there are a courtyard in the middle and rooms left and right. The han welcomes its visitors with a coffee shop on the right of the entrance and in the han there are shops that sell nuts and spices, doner shops and bakery. Pass the Beta Tea rooms, on the other side of the courtyard there are shops that sell turkish delight, chocolate, milk dishes, and pastry. You can visit the roasting furnace at this place which still preserves its historic fabric.

Beta Yeni Han is old and historical yet its inner decoration, counters, tables, and chairs are so modern it that it shows exemplary design features where the old and the new meet without ignoring cultural values. It also sets an example for all the other buildings which managed to survive for centuries and defy time. The previous “head office” of coffee serves its visitors various kind of teas in its modern form making sure their visitors relax and have fun. In short, the place is spacious and the tea is freshly brewed. Hope you visit.

Han Tour

Taşhan Other names include Sipahiler Hanı, Çukurçeşme Hanı, Katırcılar Hanı. It’s located in Laleli. It’s mostly visited by foreign tourists. At this place which has been restored and made modern usually fur or leather clothes, bags are sold.

Zincirli Han It’s in Beyazıt.  It’s different from tens of other hans in the Grand Bazaar. There is a marble fountain located in the middle of it which creates a relaxing and comforting atmosphere for its visitors. This historic building contains jewelry ateliers and is most famous for Şişko Osman Halıcılık which sales valuable and rare carpets.

Sabuncu Han It’s located in Tahtakale. It’s two storeys.It’s famous for paints for hobby requirements. It’s the go-to place of wood painters and art students.

Kuru Kahveci Han As you can guess from its name you can exit the Spice Bazaar and follow the smell of coffee to reach it. This five-story building with a single courtyard was built by the orders of Kahveci İhsan Efendi. There are mostly stationery shops and glassware shops.

Balkapanı Han It’s in Tahtakale. Its history goes back a long time and there are different rumors about it. It’s been rumored that there is a vault built in the byzantine period and an underground tunnel leading to Hagia Sophia. As its name suggests, it’s a sweet han! It’s where honey is stored. It’s two-story building with a wide courtyard. Nowadays, its rooms are used as warehouses or ateliers.

Büyük Yıldız Han It’s from the 18th century. The building in Mahmutpasa is a three-story building with a single courtyard. In the past, this historical place served as a caravansary and mosque and nowadays it mostly contains clothing and haberdashery stores.

Tarihi Kürkçü Han It’s located on the road from Tahtakale to Spice Bazaar where stuff like textiles, home and kitchen appliances and wedding gowns are sold.

Şarkhan It’s known as “Little Tahtakale in Tahtakale” since it’s such a noisy place. You can buy all kinds of souvenirs in bulk here.


What’s Han?
“Han” comes from the Persian word “hane”(home) and is used for commercial buildings where travelers stop over and rest and where the goods are kept safe until they’re given to their owners. The other meaning according to TLA (Turkish Language Association) is multi-story buildings where freelance workers in the cities can rent a room or flat to work. There are two types of hans: Hans for travelers and hans for businesses. Hans for travelers are usually located in Anatolia and in the urban areas. Hans for businesses are located in the city centers.

Why Should We Restore It?
By restoring it, the plan is to create a place to organize concerts and cultural activities in accordance with the rich historic fabric and cultural spirit of this place so that tourists interested in history and architecture and people who want to see the old Istanbul could spend quality time. The aim is to makethe business activities in the commercial hinterland which slow down towards evening continue without stopping and to developed different activities in Eminönü regarding business and tourisn.


By: Burçak Ö. Doğan / Photo : Sevgi Ödemiş

*This article was  published in the  July–August issue of Marmara Life. 



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