The Museum of Firefighting

Ödön Széchenyi was born as the son of the greatest Hungarian, István Széchenyi in 1839. Later called as Ödön Pasha, he was always known to be restless and looking for adventures. For the first time in his life, he fought a fire in 1860 in Hungary, and later he studied the topic from the best firefighters of the time in London. He made serious effort to organize the Pest-Buda firefighting in the second half of the 1860s, and this experience helped his work later on in Istanbul.


He visited Turkey for the first time in 1870 for holiday reasons, right after a huge fire. Seeing the damage, he offered his services to Sultan Abdulaziz, which was taken in 1873, when – instead of his Russian counterpart – he received the task of organizing the Istanbul firefighters after a successful demonstration. He was motivated by this task until the end of his life, despite the hardships he had to face. He was the first Christian to be promoted to be a Pasha in 1880. He lived in Istanbul until his death in 1922, leading the firefighting personally even at an old age. His second wife was Eulalia Christopulos, a Greek from Istanbul, with whom he had four children.


Though in the beginning of the 1990s the first firefighter museum was named after Széchenyi, it was later renamed as simply Firefighter Museum when the museum moved to the Besiktas district. In 7 October 2020 as a present of the Hungarian Firefighter Association to the Turkish partners, a commemorative bronze plaque was inaugurated in the museum, made by Tamás Szabó and Zoltán Kovács. His tomb in the Feriköy Catholic Cemetery is wreathed annually by the Istanbul Fire Department.

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