Atatürk’s House in Salonika
Atatürk was born in Salonika in 1881. Atatürk was born in this historical house, spent his childhood and part of his youth. And in this house, with his friends, he planned and decided for an independent country with a free governing regime. This historical house after being restored and arranged as a museum, opened to visit under the name of “Atatürk House”.
The Atatürk House is located at 75, Apostolu Pavlu Avenue, Aya Dimitria district in Salonika. The Turkish Consulate is situated next to the house. According to the old records, “Atatürk House” in Salonika was situated on Islahane Caddesi, Kazım Pasha District in Salonika. The house is a three-storey building with a courtyard and a basement floor. Salonika archive records show that the Atatürk House, now a museum, was built before 1870 by a teacher Hadji Mehmed from Rhodes and it was first sold to someone named İbrahim Zühdü and than again to another people of Salonika, Abdullah Aga and his wife Ummü Gülsüm. According to this information the house did not belong to Atatürk’s father Ali Riza Efendi but rented from its owners.
Atatürk’s father Ali Rıza Efendi had for a while been an employee of Salonika Pious Foundation and then worked as a Customs Officer. In 1876 he joined the Salonika National Forces battalion as a first lieutenant and later on he continued as a private business man.
Ali Rıza Efendi, after marrying the daughter of Feyzullah Aga from a well known family Sarigüllü Hacı Sofu’s Zübeyde Hanim in about 1878, left his father Ahmet Efendi’s, known as Kirmizi Hafiz, family home in the Subasi district and settled in this house with his wife in the Hoca Hanim Pasha district by renting it from its owners. The house, then surrounded by high walls with “harem” and “selamlik” sections, was a three-storey classical building. The external facade plastered and pink painted with iron latticed windows on the ground and timber latticed windows on the upper floor. In 1881 Atatürk was born in the upper floor at the left side room that had a fireplace.
After Ali Rıza Efendi’s death in 1888, his young widow Zübeyde Hanim mostly for financial reasons moved out of this house, with her son young Mustafa (Atatürk) and daughters Naciye and Makbule, to a smaller house next to this house. Zübeyde Hanim, who, time to time visited her brother Hüseyin Aga in his farm with her children, met with Ragip Bey and married again, with a very kind gentleman, as Atatürk expressed with his own words.
They continued to live in this small house. Atatürk had started his education at the Semsi Efendi District School before his father’s death while they were living in this Pink House. After the death of his father, he first enrolled in Salonika Civil Servants Junior High School and then transferred to Salonika Military Junior High School in 1893. In1896 he entered to the Monastir Military Junior High School and than, in 1899, to the Military Academy in Istanbul. During his holidays he visited his mother and sisters in Salonika who used to live in this small house.
Atatürk graduated from the Military Academy in 1902 and enrolled to the Staff Officers School and became an Army Staff Captain in the early 1905 In between this date and the declaration of the II. Constitutional Monarchy in 1908, Atatürk and a few of his friends secretly founded a political society named “Country and Freedom” in 1906, while he was stationed in Damascus and continued its activity. But, actually, he wanted to activate this society in Macedonia.
Therefore, he secretly travelled to Salonika and, again with a few of friends, established a branch of this society in Salonika.A year before the declaration of the II. Constitutional Monarchy (1907) Atatürk was appointed to Salonika and had stayed in this small house with his family. Many secret political meetings took place in this house. Later on, after the start of the wars in Tripoli, Libya and in the Balkans, Atatürk left Salonika and spent his whole life with the struggle for his country.
After the Balkan war Atatürk’s mother Zübeyde Hanim also did not stay in Salonika and moved to Istanbul with her daughter Makbule (Atadan), as most of the Turkish families did, and settled in a house in Besiktas, Akaretler district. Later on, during the National Struggle years she moved to Ankara. After the Victory, because of Ankara’s climate was not suitable for her health conditions, she moved to Izmir and there, passed away in 1923.
After Balkan War Salonika became a Greek city and the possession of the house, where Zübeyde Hanim lived, transferred to Greek Government by the Lausanne Agreement and later on the Greek Government sold the house to a Greek family.
On the occasion of the 10th Anniversary of the Turkish Republic (29 October 1933), Salonika Municipality Council, in memory of Turkish – Greek Friendship and the Balkan Conference, placed a marble plate on the right side of the double door of the house where Atatürk was born. The following words are inscribed on this plate in Turkish, Greek and French:
“The great founder of Turkish Nation and the pillar of the Balkan Entente, GAZI MUSTAFA KEMAL was born here. This plate is placed on the occasion of the 10th Anniversary of the Turkish Republic. Salonika, 29 October 1933.”
The plate was put in its place with a ceremony on 4 November 1933 with the participation of Turkish Ambassador in Athens and the embassy staff, The General Governor of Macedonia, Mayor of Salonika and the Greek officials. Later on, Salonika Municipality Council decided to buy the house from its Greek owner and present it to Atatürk. The house was evacuated on 19 February 1937 and its keys handed over to the Turkish Consulate in Salonika.
After that, the “Atatürk House” was cared for by the Turkish Consulate in Salonika. The ground floor shops, which had been opened by the late owner, were removed and the house restored to its original state. Also, its yellow paint was replaced by its original pink colour and the roof repaired. In 1950 the house had more substantial restoration and the Foreign Ministry and the National Education Ministry started works to convert “Atatürk House” to a museum.
The National Education Ministry, after having experts advice in order to make new arrangements for a museum, brought in to “Atatürk House” some necessary furniture and items selected from Istanbul Dolmabahce and Topkapi Palaces. That is how the rooms in the House rearranged and restored to its original plan and opened to public display on 10 November 1953 after an official ceremony.
Salonika Atatürk House, which is open to public as a museum today, is located in the corner of the garden where the Salonika Turkish Consulate also situated, surrounded by a fence wall facing the main boulevard. This three-storey old Turkish style house has a tiled roof and is cantilevered above the ground floor. First and second floors have rectangular and latticed windows. Entrance is through double doors opening to the boulevard.
Ground Floor: Through the door you enter a brick tiled hall. First room on the right is the cellar and the second is the kitchen. In the cellar, kitchen utensils (Copper bowls, large earthenware jars, jugs, pitchers, an axe, pestles and chests) are displayed. There are cupboards and shelves in the kitchen. First room on the left is maids room and second is the stair hall where you go up to the first floor.
First Floor: You can come up to this floor from an open stone stair from the garden as well as from the stair hall on the ground floor. In the entry, there is a large sofa with a timber ceiling. The sofa has a large divan with pillows and embroidered covers in front of the triple windows facing the garden with satin curtains. In the middle of the sofa there is a round wooden table. On the right, from the garden entry to the sofa, there is a guest room and through it a storage room. Guest room is furnished with velvet-covered couches and armchairs, satin curtains, mirrored dresser, copper brazier and coffee tables. A silk-threaded inscription and a clock are on the walls. First small room on the left is the kitchen.
There are various kitchen utensils and a stove oven in here. Second room is the bedroom. At one corner there is a double iron bedstead and on the wall at the bedside, a Koran with silver lapel and red satin book cover, and an inscription plate are hung. First verse of the Conquest Sura (chapter) is inscribed on this plate. In front of the bedstead there are a brass brazier and a large divan all along the windows facing the street with heavy satin curtains.
Second Floor: You can reach this floor through the stair hall next to the storage room on the first floor. The sofa with divans on this floor is similar to the sofa on the first floor only smaller. Right-hand side room from entry has a decorated gypsum ceiling and is the study room. There is a bronze bust of Atatürk, a desk, a brass brazier and armchairs in this room in which Atatürk was born. Ceramic dishes and inscriptions related to Atatürk are hung on the wall. The bedroom at the right was arranged as the Atatürk Museum. Wearing apparel and personal effects used by Atatürk can be seen in the cabinets with the glass fronts. There is also a bookshelf displaying the photographs of Atatürk, documents from his schooling and some of his books. There is a terrace with wooden railings next to the bedroom.
The last restoration, arrangements and preparations for display of the Atatürk House in Salonika were made in 1981.