Chronological Order

Thematic order


Cahide Tamer Aksel

Cahide Tamer Aksel

First female architectural restorer
"I embroidered my work with love."

Date of Birth: 1915

Place of Birth: Istanbul

Date of Death: 05/12/2005 2005

Place of Death: Istanbul

Burial Site: Zincirlikuyu Cemetery, Istanbul



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Field of Activity


One of my interesting memories of the Topkapi Palace is a cupboard door in the Concubine Hospital. (…) When we were taking the measurements, the door drew my attention. It was painted white; it was decorated with ornaments that school children stick on their books. I wanted to look underneath to see the construction, so I scraped them a bit with my pocket knife. (…) The surface underneath was glittering. (…) When cleaned up, there was a beautiful cupboard door. I had had training in decorative arts. This knowledge is very important when you come across decoration in restoration.

When I was working on the restoration of the Archeology Museum (…) I had a terrible contractor. He gave me a lot of headaches. Of course I was young and naïve. (…) When men see a female architect, they tend to play it down. They feel sorry afterwards though!

The restoration of Yedikule took twelve years of effort. It started in 1958 and lasted until 1970. In this complex job, we were challenged to create new techniques and exert all our ingenuity. (...) Restauration is similar to poetry. You must have a feeling for it. When I see an old work of art before its restoration, I begin to imagine how I can restore it. (…) The important thing is to hand the work over to the historian without damaging it further; and to protect it from adverse climate conditions.

One of the largest and most important works in our restoration history is the restoration of Rumelihisari. Since 1955 I have been in charge of the work on the Fatih Kulesi and Selma Emler had been in charge of the Halil Pasa Kulesi. In the Rumelihisari project, Mualla Eyuboglu restored the area from the Zaganos Pasa Kulesi to the Halil Pasa Kulesi and the area with walls next to the Fatih Kulesi; and I did the restoration of all the other remaining areas.

I was the evaluator and restoration supervisor of the Matamorfosis Eastern Church (Matamorfosis Rum Ortodoks Kilisesi) in Sişli, detroyed in the 6-7 September events 1955; the The Armenian Church Surp Pırgiç Kilisesi in Karaköy in Istanbul; and the Papaz Yani monastery in Heybeliada.

I climbed up to Ayasofya's dome in my high heels, and I also walked on the walls of Çoban Mustafa Paşa Küllyesi in Gebze in my overalls. I got deep pleasure from my restoration work; I embroidered my work with love.
(Cahide Tamer Aksel)
Derya Nüket Özer, "Kubbelerde Yüksek Ökçeler: Cahide Tamer ile Röportaj", yapı.com, 10/2005.

Examples From Cahide Tamer Aksel's Works
  • Restoration of the Amcazade Huseyin Pasa Mansion, the oldest waterside mansion on the Bosphorus, Istanbul (1947)
  • Restoration of the Yedikule Castle, Istanbul
  • Restoration of the Sultan Selim Madrasah, Istanbul
  • Restoration of the Çoban Mustafa Paşa Külliyesi, Gebze
  • Restoration of Topkapı Palace, Istanbul
  • Restoration of the Rumelihisari castle and the construction of the theatre stage in the castle, Istanbul
  • Restoration of the Kariye Mosque (Khora Monastery) , Istanbul
  • Restoration of the Aya Irini Church, Istanbul

Along with these works, she undertook the restoration of more than one hundred constructions such as kulliyes (building complexes adjacent to a mosque), palaces, walls, forts, aqueducts, mosques, mausoleums, dervish lodges, alms houses, caravanseries, fountains, and baths.

See for the list of restoration projects supervised by Cahide Tamer:Başar Başarır, "Otuz Yıl Restorasyon: Cahide Tamer", İstanbul Dergisi, S. 13, İstanbul 1995, s. 94-98

Publications of Cahide Tamer
(A selection)
  • Cahide Tamer, İstanbul Bizans Anıtları ve Onarımları, Türk Turing ve Otomobil Kurumu Yayınları, İstanbul, 2003.
  • Cahide Tamer, Taraklı Yunus Paşa Camii Restorasyonu, Türk Turing ve Otomobil Kurumu Yayınları İstanbul, 2002.
  • Cahide Tamer, Sultan Selim (Halıcılar) Medresesi Restorasyonu, 1958-1963, Türk Turing ve Otomobil Kurumu Yayınları, İstanbul 2002.
  • Cahide Tamer, Rumelihisarı Restorasyonu: Belgelerle ve Anılarla, Türk Turing ve Otomobil Kurumu Yayınları, İstanbul 2001.
  • Cahide Tamer, Amcazade Yalısı ve Manzumesi Onarımları, Türk Turing ve Otomobil Kurumu Yayınları, İstanbul, 2001.
  • Cahide Tamer, Gebze-Çoban Mustafa Paşa Külliyesi Restorasyonu (1961-1970), İstanbul 1999.
  • İzzet Kumbaracılar, Cahide Tamer, Yedikule, Türk Turing ve Otomobil Kurumu Yayınları, İstanbul, (publication date not available).


  • 1961Chevalier de L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (For the excellence accomplishment of the restoration of the Yedikule Walls)
  • 1993Recognition by the Chamber of Architects, Turkey, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Cahide Tamer Aksel's professional career


(No information available)


  • Kadıköy Onuncu İlkokul (Kadıköy Onuncu Primary School), Istanbul
  • Kadıköy Ortaokulu (Kadıköy Junior High School), Istanbul
  • Erenköy Kız Lisesi (Erenköy Girls High School), Istanbul
  • Academy of Fine Arts, Istanbul, Department of Painting, student of Namık İsmail and İbrahim, 1935
  • Academy of Fine Arts, Istanbul, Department of Turkish Decorative Arts, student of İsmail Hakkı Altınbeze and Süheyl Ünver, 1935
  • Academy of Fine Arts, Istanbul, Department of Architecture, student of Sedat Hakkı Eldem, 1938

Contributions to Society

(No information available)

Family and Friends

  • Mother:Mukaddes Aksel
  • Father:Ahmet Saim Aksel (naval major)
  • Sister:İhsane Aksel,
  • Brother:Fevzi Aksel
  • Daughter:Ayşe Nur Ökten (city planner, lecturer)
  • Son: Özcan Şenocak
  • Marriage:Hadi Tamer (chemist)
  • Friends:Selma Emler (architect, restorer), Mualla Eyüboğlu Anhegger (architect, restorer), Hüsrev Tayla (architect)

Commemorative Projects

Exhibition in Her Memory

"Kubbelerde Yüksek Ökçeler", Exhibition organised by Mimarlık Muzesi for the commemoration of Cahide Tamer, Curator: Derya Nükhet Özer, 2003.

Information Page To Keep Her Memory Alive
Mimarlık Müzesi (Musum of Architecture) web page: Cahide Tamer.

Further Reading

Olcay Akkent, "Mehmet Osman (önce Aliye ile, sonra İhsane ile)",, 23.7.2010.

Ebru Karakaya, Türk Mimarlığında Sanayi-i Nefise Mektebi / Güzel Sanatlar Akademisi'nin Yeri ve Restorasyon Alanına Katkıları, Yüksek Lisans Tezi, Mimar Sinan Güzel Sanatlar Üniversitesi, Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü, Sanat Tarihi Anabilim Dalı, Türk İslam Sanatları Programı, İstanbul, 2006. (1.3.2012)

Derya Nüket Özer, "Kubbelerde Yüksek Ökçeler: Cahide Tamer ile Röportaj" , yapı.com, Ekim 2005, (1.3.2012).

Mücella Yapıcı, "Aramızdan Ayrılanlar: Dünya, İlk Kadın Şövalyesi Cahide Tamer'i Yitirdi", Mimarlara Mektup, S.83, 1/2006, p.12.

Nur Akın, "Koruma Alanının Büyük Kaybı: Cahide Tamer", Mimarlık Dergisi Online, (1.3.2012).

Başar Başarır, "Otuz Yıl Restorasyon: Cahide Tamer", İstanbul Dergisi, S. 13, İstanbul 1995, pp. 94-98.


Quoted Sources
  • · See the "Further Reading" section
Source for Visual Images


The Women's Museum Istanbul would like to thank Olcay Akkent for her support in compiling this introductory page.

Translation into English: Faruk Kural, İstanbul, Turkey
Editing: Margaret Fearey, Milton, Massachusetts, USA:

©2012 Meral Akkent
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