Once a favorite haunt of modern Turkey’s founder, Istanbul’s legendary Tokatlıyan-Pera Hotel continues to face an uncertain future due to a lack of plans to renovate the severely dilapidated building.
“[Mustafa Kemal] Atatürk not only organized balls but also hosted his guests at a rich table during tea hours. It is so unfortunate that the hotel is now in a ruined state,” Professor Afife Batur, a scholar on architectural history at Istanbul Technical University, recently told the Hürriyet Daily News. “The hotel was a pioneer as a building in many ways. The first known hotel posters in Turkey belonged to the Tokatlıyan-Pera.”
Considered by scholars to be a significant architectural achievement, the Tokatlıyan-Pera is one of the best examples of fin-de-siècle architecture in Turkey.
The hotel belongs to the Üç Horan Armenian Church Foundation, one of the richest foundations of Turkey’s Armenian community.
The foundation’s administration, which has remained unchanged for 30 years, has chosen not to adopt any of the numerous renovation proposals that have been submitted over the years.
The hotel was built by Mıgırdiç Tokatlıyan, an Ottoman citizen of Armenian origin who migrated from the northern province of Tokat and adopted the last name Tokatlıyan. The hotel was opened in 1897 with 160 rooms and hosted a number of celebrities, later becoming a favorite of Atatürk.
Emphasizing the significance of the Tokatlıyan-Pera in regard to architecture, Batur said: “It was such a popular building that the Orient Express would transport all of Europe’s high society and the elite to this hotel and elegant balls were held there. These balls would generate several stories for the world tabloid press as well as the Turkish press.”
Another branch of the Tokatlıyan-Pera called the Tokatlıyan-Therabia was situated on the Bosphorus at the exact location of the present-day Tarabya Hotel, Batur said.
Architectural history specialist Dr. Fatma Sedes said the Tokatlıyan-Pera was the apple of the eye of Istanbul and European elites, as well as other political figures. “It was a unique building that left its mark on Istanbul’s architecture,” she added.