Northwest of Beyoğlu, along the newly spruced-up north shore of the once heavily polluted Golden Horn, three sights are well worth a look, especially if you’re fed up with historic buildings and/or have kids in tow: the Rahmi M. Koç Industrial Museum, Turkey’s landmark buildings done to scale at Miniatürk, and the trendy exhibition centre of Santralistanbul, in a refurbished power station.
Upstream of Hasköy in dull Sütlüce, on the north side of the monumental Haliç Bridge, Miniatürk is one of those attractions you’ll either love or hate. It displays over a hundred 1:25 scale models of Turkey’s most impressive sights, spaced out along a 1.8km signed route. İstanbul itself is home to 45 of the attractions – from mundane Sirkeci Post Office through to the Blue Mosque – while another 45 cover sights in Anatolia. Not all the well-detailed models are buildings – if you’ve ever wanted to see Cappadocia’s fairy chimneys or the travertine cascades of Pamukkale in miniature, then this is the place to see them.
Set in the attractively landscaped campus of Bilgi University, built on reclaimed industrial land at the head of the Golden Horn, Santralistanbul is a striking symbol of the new İstanbul. The major point of interest is the Museum of Energy, housed, appropriately enough, in an old power station. Between 1914 and its closure in 1983, this plant, the Silahtarağa, was the only electricity generating station in İstanbul. The interior is now a successful mix of the carefully preserved innards of the power plant and hi-tech wizardry. Events in the impressive exhibition space to the left of the entrance range from retrospectives of contemporary Turkish art to displays on the headscarf issue. The campus also holds a couple of trendy bars/venues, Otto Santral and Tamirhane, and hosts the annual “One Love” alt-music festival.
Formerly home to a substantial Jewish community, Hasköy, a couple of kilometres up the Golden Horn from Karaköy, was also the location of an Ottoman naval shipyard and royal park. Today it’s noted for the excellent Rahmi M. Koç Industrial Museum, an old factory restored by Rahmi M. Koç, one of Turkey’s most famous – and wealthiest – industrialists, to house his private collection of models, machines, vehicles and toys. Upstairs, the starboard main engine of the Kalender steam ferry, made in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1911, is the main exhibit. Downstairs holds a number of old bikes, from penny-farthings to an early Royal Enfield motorbike,
and much else besides.