Photographer: Åke E:son Lindman
Generalkonsulatet i Istanbul.
Istanbul, Turkey, Consulate General
Sweden's Consulate General in Istanbul has been housed in Sweden's oldest property abroad since 1969. The site is located on a popular shopping street in the old district of Beyoglu. The street is partially pedestrianised, but has an old tramline. The same property also houses the Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul, which occupies the Dragoman House.
Centuries of diplomatic ties
Sweden's diplomatic ties with Turkey stretch back to the 17th century. At this time, diplomatic representation was of a temporary nature. During King Karl XII's stay in Turkey from 1709–1714, a proper Swedish mission was set up at the court of Constantinople. Sweden has had a permanent mission in Turkey since 1735.
Swedish since 1757
Swedish envoy Gustaf Celsing purchased the property for 22,000 piasters in 1757. He described it as "A large and well situated plot with a spacious house. One of the best in Pera". The money for the purchase came from funds collected in Swedish, Finnish and Northern German churches for the Fund for the Protestant Church in Istanbul and for the emancipation of Protestant slaves.
Current main building from 1870
The original buildings no longer exist, as they were demolished or destroyed in a fire in 1818. It took until 1869 for a decision to be made on funding a new diplomatic minister's house. Some of the finance came from renting out small retail outlets in the bazaar area on the main street, as well as borrowing. The new minister's house, the main building, was designed by Austrian architect Domenico Pulgher and completed in 1870. The building has three floors, plus a full basement, and is constructed in rendered brick.
Summer residence 1920–1950
With Ankara declared the capital of the new Turkish Republic in 1923, the mission was moved there for the years 1931–34. Up until 1953, the main building in Istanbul was used as the summer residence of the Swedish minister in the new capital of Ankara. The Dragoman House was used as the residence of the Consulate General. In 1953, Sweden established a formal Consulate General with salaried staff. The main building has housed the chancery and residence of the Consulate General since 1969.
The site also boasts a church that was originally built in 1757, but burned down. The existing wooden church dates from 1858, and was fully renovated in 1985.
The Consulate General was reinforced in 2009–10 for better protection against major earthquakes. The work included rebuilding walls, strengthening floors and ceilings, and running new pipes and electrical systems. Strong steel girders were used to reinforce the floor structures and strands of carbon fibre were bolted into place from floor to ceiling.
Istiklal Caddesi 497