Aşiyan Museum

I expect no gifts from any, nor beg for wing or feather In my own sky, in my own heavens, on my own I soar To bow beneath slavery’s collar weighs heavy on my neck I’m a poet, my thoughts are free, wisdom free, conscience freeTevfik Fikret

Tevfik Fikret, who is one of the most important people in Turkish literature. With his modern thinking about freedom of speech and humans ‘equality, he tried to show the leckness of just this in Turkey with his work. Born while the Ottoman Empire, he lost his parents very early. His mother died and his father had to live in exile because of his politic opinion and standing against the regime. Tevfik Fikret looked up to his father because of this for his whole life. After graduating from the Galatasaray High School, he became a teacher and later the principal of his former school. Next to this he also teach at the Robert College. The poet was married and had one son named Haluk. Because he wanted his son to grow up with an education that is based on what we now call basic liberties, he sent him to Scotland. Haluk never returned to Turkey.


Tevfik Fikret
Tevfik Fikret


Tevfik Fikret was an artist. He wasn’t only a writer, but a painter too. Even though he is better known for his work as a poet. He brought his feelings about the world and the situation in Turkey to paper. Tevfik Fikret never separated his work and his private life, so every poem shows what he was thinking. In 1896 he became the chief editor of the Servet-i Fünun magazine. The goal of the magazine was to simplify the language that was used in this time. Out of this magazine there developed the New Literature Movement. Influenced by the French realism and the Dedecant poets, the Turkish poets wanted to change the thinking about art. Important was to achieve technical perfection and to choose objectivity and detailed description over the naive and emotional way of writing. Tevfik Fikret and his fellows created a new thinking about art in Turkey and rebelled against the old traditions of the Ottoman Empire. Show the reality and express your opinion, don’t invent something or describe the things different to how they are.

Of course the ruling regime didn’t like this and the police investigated Tevfik Fikret several times. Because of that the poets had to close their magazine in 1901.

Tevfik Fikret tried to reach his ideals not only in his work but also in the way he lived. In 1906 he built a house in which every detail was planned. Here Oxidant and Orient should come together in the perfect combination. On the Robert College Campus with the best view over the Bosporus he lived in his home with his wife until he died in 1915 because of diabetes.

Tevfik Fikret's drawing about the building of Aşiyan Museum
Tevfik Fikret’s drawing about the building of Aşiyan Museum

The poet called his house Aşiyan which means birth nest. Every room had its own function and the furniture and decoration were well chosen. Tevfik Fikret’s wife died in 1940, only five years later the State bought the place and opened up a museum dedicated to the most famous poets of the New Literature Movement. Most of the house is still the same, the things that got lost or broke were replaced by duplicates. Until today the whole place looks like Tevfik Fikret imagined it. In the inside you can find many pictures painted by the poet and friends of him. Most of the rooms are devoted to other famous poets that paved the way for the new Turkish literature. In the garden you can see the grave of the most important poet, Tevfik Fikret himself.

The visit in the museum is for free, you even get an audio guide that guides you through the house for fourth minutes. I suggest to go and see this beautiful place and learn something about Turkey’s poets to everyone, it is worth it!

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Bebek Mah. Aşiyan Yolu 34342 Beşiktaş, İstanbul
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