Mualla Eyüboğlu Anhegger

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Mualla Eyüboğlu Anhegger (b. 13 March 1919 in Aziziye, Sivas;[1] † 18 August 2009 in Istanbul) was one of the first female architects in the Republic of Turkey. She was known for her work in village institutes and as a restorer of old buildings.

Childhood, family and education

Eyüboğlu was born in Aziziye in 1919 and came from a wealthy family originally from Trabzon. Her father, Mehmet Rahmi Eyuboğlu, a graduate of Mekteb-i Mülkiye, was a Mutasarrıf in Anatolia and later a member of the National Assembly. He was from Maçka and traced his family’s origin back to Saladin. Hence, he also chose the surname Eyüboğlu (“son of Ayyub”). His mother, Lütfiye, came from a religiously conservative family of notables from Pulathane, now Akçaabat. Her mother in turn came from the palace environment, her father from a local officer family.

Mualla Eyüboğlu was born one year after the First World War in Aziziye, Erzurum province. Mualla had four siblings. These included her two older brothers, the poet and painter Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu and the author Sabahattin Eyüboğlu. Their older sister was named Nezahat. The younger brother was Mustafa. After Mustafa, the mother gave birth to twins, but they did not survive. Her childhood was marked by the War of Liberation. War and childhood were spent in Kütahya and Artvin. In 1924, the family moved to Trabzon. A year later Mualla started school there. When she was in the third grade, the Latin alphabet was introduced. According to Mualla, she grew up with Atatürk’s reforms. To ensure the children’s education, the family moved to Istanbul in 1929. There Eyüboğlu graduated from middle school and high school at the Vefa Girls’ High School. She was an average student. After graduating from high school, the family moved to the Soğanağa district. Mualla then studied architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts of Istanbul University from 1936 to 1942.

The surname was also written as Eyuboğlu or Eyüpoğlu.

Village Institutes

After graduating in 1942, she visited her brother Sabahattin in Ankara, where he was a member of a committee for training and education. İsmail Hakkı Tonguç, who headed the committee at the time, promptly appointed her head of the “construction department” of the Hasanoğlan village institute near Ankara. Over the next five years, Eyüboğlu was involved in the opening and construction of the other village institutes in Eskişehir, Aydın, Kayseri and Erzurum, and served as a teacher in the village institutes. At the age of 24, she established a village institute in her birthplace. She taught such subjects as. Civil engineering, technical drawing, interior design and art history. One of the first buildings Eyüboğlu designed with her students was the music school of the Hasanoğlan Village Institute. The building plan of the music school bore a formal resemblance to the so-called sun disk of the Hittites.[2] Hitit Güneşi (“Hittite Sun”) was Eyüboğlu’s epithet. In Hasanoğlan, she also built the carpentry workshop, the hamam, and the canteen of the village institute.[3] In 1998, Eyüboğlu retrospectively evaluated the village institutes as follows:

“It’s actually hard to believe unless you’ve experienced it yourself, but the villages were still living in the Stone Age. Each village institute had a sick bay. In the fight against malaria, this was very useful for Anatolia. People were not content with building a village school and training village school teachers. Besides, there were numerous useful things in village development. For me, the village institutes were a window to culture for Turkish villages.”[4]

In her memoirs, Eyüboğlu reported dalliances with Yaşar Kemal and others during this period. Ruhi Su is said to have pursued her so vehemently that he showed up at the door of the girls’ dormitory at night with a pistol in his hand and was removed from Hasanoğlan. In 1947, she fell ill with a severe form of malaria in Ortaklar. She was treated in the French hospital in Izmir. Her father forbade her any further stay in Anatolia while she was still at her bedside.


Eyüboğlu returned to Istanbul and worked as an assistant at the Academy of Fine Arts in the field of urban planning from 1948. Especially after the Democratic Party came to power, she felt marginalized at the university because of her previous work in the village institutes, which were frowned upon after the abolition. From 1949, Eyüboğlu worked part-time at the excavations of Yazılıkaya and Ephesus and traveled in Europe. In 1952, she became a reporter for a state institution for the protection of antiquities, the Gayrimenkul Eski Eserler ve Anıtlar Yüksek Kurulu. In this capacity, she got to know all of Anatolia. Eyüboğlu later worked as a restorer for the same institution.

Eyüboğlu was involved in the restoration of historical buildings throughout Anatolia. These included the Selimiye Bazaar, the Gazi Mihal Hamam and the Üç-Şerefeli Mosque (all in Edirne); the Castle and the Hunad Hatun Mosque (Kayseri), the Buruciye Medrese in Sivas, the old Mozaik Museum in Antakya, the Zinciriye Medrese in Mardin and the Castle in Trabzon. In Istanbul, she restored the Türbe of Barbaros Hayrettin Paşa, the Süleymaniye Külliyesi, the Rumeli Hisarı, the Harem of the Topkapı Sarayı and other buildings. The work on the Rumeli Hisarı took three years, and the work on the Topkapı Palace took ten years. There, she discovered the Valide Sultan’s hiding place and wrote a book about it.

Her father died in 1952, and in 1958 she married Robert Anhegger, a German political exile whom she had known since New Year’s Eve 1948. Her mother, Lütfiye Hanım, was strictly against the marriage and broke off contact for about a year. The couple initially lived by the Black Sea in Arnavutköy until 1964. After that, they bought an apartment unit in Doğan Apartmanı.

Later life

In 1969 Robert Anhegger was appointed director of the Goethe-Institut in Amsterdam. The couple lived there for a total of five years. Eyüboğlu often travelled back and forth between Istanbul and Amsterdam, but was dismissed from her position as restorer. She returned to Istanbul for good in 1975, and her mother died in 1981 and Robert Anhegger in 2001. A few years later, her memoirs were published. Mualla Eyüboğlu passed away in August 2009, and she was buried in Topkapı Merkezefendi Mezarlığı Cemetery.


  • Mualla Anhegger-Eyüboğlu: Topkapı Sarayı’nda Padişah Evi (Harem). Istanbul 1986


  • Tûba Çandar: Hitit Güneşi. Mualla Eyuboğlu Anhegger. 4. Edition. Doğan Kitap, Istanbul 2003, ISBN 975-293-079-4.

Web links

Individual references

  1. Eyuboglu profile.Retrieved January 4, 2017.
  2. Özlem Altun: İdealin Peşinde: Köy Enstitüleri. In: Türkiye Erken Dönem Cumhuriyet Mimarisi, p. 78f.
  3. Portrait in the Milliyet of 16 March 2003
  4. Excerpt from an interview with Mualla Eyüboğlu-Anhegger (Turkish)