Kamondo Family of Istanbul

During the Ottoman period, there was a great deal of tolerance among people. Many individuals from different nations lived happily together, especially the Jews, who settled in Istanbul after escaping the oppression and inquisition in Spain. They made many contributions to the Ottomans in terms of culture, art, and economy. The Kamondo family was one of the families that brought great financial prosperity to the Ottoman Empire and made enormous contributions to the 19th century Ottoman architecture.

Kamondo Family History

The Kamondo family first settled in Venice, leaving Spain in 1492 due to repression that they endured there. However, the family could not find the peaceful climate that they were looking for in Venice, so they headed to Istanbul Ortaköy. Ishak and Abraham Solomon, the sons of Haim Kamondo, set up a bank called Ishak Kamondo and Associates. They were masters of the financial industry and soon developed the Ottoman Empire Company General, one of the most important banks of the Ottoman era.

Some members of the family, who had very good connections with the palace, settled in Paris. Many of the members of the family who went to Europe were captured and lost their lives in Nazi concentration camps.

Kamondo Family of Istanbul
Galata Kamondo Han

Contributions of Kamondo Family to Istanbul

The Kamondo Family not only made significant contributions in the financial industry, but also to the cultural life of Istanbul. Among the contributions of the Kamondo family in Istanbul were their contributions to modernization and education. The “North Sea Area Command” building, which is still in use today, is located in Kasımpaşa and carries the Kamondo family sign. Galata Residence is also one of the important buildings built by the same family. Kamondo Han, located on the Serdar Ekrem Street, which has become a frequent place of the Levanten team of Istanbul, reflects the western traces of the period.

Located in Meşrutiyet Caddesi, which is also used as an office by the Kamondo Family, Büyükada Han is one of the important structures that Istanbul travelers frequently photograph.

Kamondo Family of Istanbul
Galata Kamondo Home

Saatçi Han and Latif Han in Karaköy are two of the business centers of the family. In addition to these, Lacivert Han, Kuyumcular Han, Yakut Han, Lüleci Han, and Gül Han were built in the Karaköy with the fine taste of the family and are still actively used as business centers.

Kamondo Stairs

The Kamondo family made a significant mark on the Galata district. They were active in charities and provided many important services in order to help the neighborhood develop. Perhaps the most famous of these is the Kamondo Stairs. It is a tradition for visitors to Istanbul and Galata to take photographs at the stairs. They were built in 1850 in the Art Nouveau style with magnificent geometric designs. The stairs are on the road connecting Banks Road and Banks Street in today’s Galata district and were made as a work of charity in the name of Abraham Solomon Kamondo. These stairs are one of the most important structures in Galata today.

Kamondo Family of Istanbul
Camondo Stairs (Turkish Kamondo Merdivenleri) in Galata District in Istanbul, Turkey. The stairs climb the hill from the Galata docks and Avenue of the Banks.

Isak Kamondo and Art

Isak Kamondo contributed significantly to the world’s many museums through his collections; his artistic understanding is in a class of its own. Isak de Kamondo (Isaac de Camondo), a banker, was born in Istanbul in 1851. He had a great interest in art and collecting, especially in Far East arts, Japanese wooden block arts, 18th century paintings, and impressionist paintings. His impressionist collection, which is quite valuable, was exhibited in the Louvre Museum for 50 years after his death and then moved to the Orsay Museum. The rare collection of works from the Far East is exhibited at the Guimet Museum.