Şirket-i Hayriye Overview


With its very attractive and valuable geographical location, with a history dating back 300 thousand years, Istanbul was always considered as a sea city.

From the end of the 1800s, the modernization tendency of the Ottoman Empire began to become more evident.

Under the leadership of Sultan Mahmut II, the Ottoman State was undergoing radical changes in the state bureaucracy, science and social life.

The removal of Divan-ı Hümayun and instead the establishment of the ministries similar to today's ministries, the first census in the real sense, the establishment of the first postal organization, establishment of Mekteb-i Tibbiyye-i Sahane, the first education institution providing education in the western style, and Mekteb-i Harbiyye as first school of war, the initiation of the first official newspaper, Takvim-i Vakayi were transforming social, economic, cultural and political life.


This transformation, which has been going on towards the middle of the 19th century; it led to a change in the consumption habits of the society, and the development and spread of summer home habits. All these developments, in particular, would increase the need for transportation between Istanbul and the Bosphorus.

This, the period in which the ferry business began to take shape in Istanbul, which is not only a strategic location but also in terms of transportation, became evident in the mid-19th century.

Until then, the only means of maritime transportation were boats. In Istanbul and in its immediate vicinity, passengers and cargo were transported by boats, peres and barges between Istanbul-Mudanya, Istanbul-Uskudar, Eminonu-Karakoy, in the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus.
Boats that do not have navigational security and do not have the nature of a mass transport vehicle, can no longer meet the demand for urban transportation.

The demand of the people who started to make sea transportation in Istanbul and the Bosporus part of the daily life, could not be ignored. The social transformation move in the Ottoman Empire also leaps into the transportation area; In 1837, British and Russian flagged steam vessels were starting to transport in Istanbul. Eser-i Hayır, one of the first Ottoman-flame steamers produced by Tersane-i Amire, was operating in İstanbul and Mesir-i Bahri in the Marmara Sea between İstanbul, Bandırma, İzmit and Tekirdağ.


In such an environment, the establishment of the Şirket-i Hayriye in 1851 for the purpose of steamboat operation, stands out as an important turning point in the Ottoman history. The Şirket-i Hayriye was established as a result of the fact that the transportation between Istanbul and the Bosphorus, which had increased in the mid-19th century, could not meet the traditional transportation vehicles, in terms of security, comfort and carrying capacity. The demand arising from this demand would be met by steam-ship management, which is a safer, more convenient and faster means of transportation than boats.

The Şirket-i Hayriye was a reflection of the cultural and economic dynamics of the change and transformation that took place in the Ottoman society since the beginning of the 19th century.

Hayriye-Hayriye was established in order to meet the needs of the upper income groups shaped by the fact that the Ottoman State was reformed in the society and liberalized in the liberal economy. For this purpose, the Company-i Hayriye was to provide the connection of the Bosphorus, which is an important settlement area, with the historical peninsula. The establishment adventure of Şirket-i Hayriye started with the introduction of two famous and reliable names of the period, Cevdet Pasha and Fuat Pasha, which included a request to establish a ferry company for the regular transportation of the Bosphorus population belonging to the above mentioned income group. With the approval of the bill by Sultan Abdulaziz, on 17 January 1851, a copy of the Sultan's will was published in Takvim-i Vakayi and the Şirket-i Hayriye was established. With the approval of the bill by Sultan Abdulaziz, on 17 January 1851, a copy of the Sultan's will was published in Takvim-i Vakayi and the Company-i Hayriye was established.

The establishment was allowed to be a company with twenty five years business privilege.


As the first joint-stock company established in the Ottoman Empire, the Şirket-i Hayriye regularly provided the sea transportation between the Bosphorus and Istanbul and caused the Bosphorus, which is known as the summer house, to be a permanent residence area and the development of the city. The Şirket-i Hayriye accelerated the integration of the Bosphorus with Istanbul and became the leading architect of the Istanbul skyline.

Therefore, for the Ottoman Empire, the Şirket-i Hayriye was considered to be a very important work in the field of transportation in the Ottoman history, while Vakanüvis Ahmet Lütfi Efendi considered the events in 1850, ”As the most important public works of this year, it is the ferry company that will be established under the name of Şirket-i Hayriyye for the operation of the state on the Bosphorus shores in İstanbul.“

Rumeli, Tarabya, Küçüksu, Beylerbeyi, Tophane and Beşiktaş, which are the first ferries of the company, were ordered from England.