The Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul


The Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul (SRII) was founded in 1962 with the aim of promoting Swedish and Nordic research about Turkey and the Eastern Mediterranean as well as other regions that are connected linguistically, culturally, or historically. Among the many fields of study represented at the SRII are Archaeology, Art and Architectural History, Classical and Byzantine Studies, Ottoman and modern Turkish history, West and Central Asian Languages and Literatures, Religious History and Religion, Political Science and International Relations, Social Anthropology and Sociology.

Located within the compound of the Swedish Consulate General in Istanbul, the SRII offers a local academic platform for Nordic scholars coming to Istanbul, including a library, guesthouse, workplaces and an auditorium. It awards scholarships of longer or shorter periods of stay to students and researchers, and it hosts conferences, seminars and workshops, doctoral and master courses. 

The SRII serves both as a hub for Nordic scholars, as a local node of Turkish and international research, and as a link between Turkish, Nordic and international scholarship. Apart from regular lectures and seminars in Istanbul, it also arranges public and internal events in Sweden, and hosts three different publication series: Transactions aimed at an international scholarly audience, the Swedish annual Dragomanen, and the local bulletin Kalabalık!

The institute is organized around a collegium of scholars under the leadership of a board of trustees in Stockholm. It is further supported by an association of friends. The institute rules (in Swedish) and organizational chart can be found here. Our Gender Equlity Plan (in English and Swedish) is avilible through the links. Our "Policy Against Bribery and Corruption" can be found here

Current director:

Olof Heilo, Historian (2022–)

Former directors:

  • Ingela Nilsson, Byzantinist (2019–2022)
  • Kristina Josephson Hesse, Archaeologist (2018)
  • Johan Mårtelius, Architect (2015–2017)
  • Birgit Schlyter, Turkologist (2012–2014)
  • Karin Ådahl, Art historian (2002–2008)
  • Elisabeth Özdalga, Sociologist (1999–2001, 2009–2011)
  • Bengt Knutsson, Arabist (1992–1998)
  • Éva Czató Johansson, Turkologist (1992)
  • Pontus Hellström, Archaeologist (1990–1992)
  • Paavo Roos, Archaeologist (1987–1990)
  • (Gustav H. Karlsson, Byzantinist 1978–79)
9th - 12th centuries:
16th - 17th centuries:
18th - 19th centuries:
1709 - 1714:
Early 20th century:
1922 - 1924:
1994 - 1999:

Nordic ”Varangians” serve as imperial lifeguards at the Byzantine court in Constantinople.

Early emissaries from the Swedish court to the Ottoman capital attempt to establish a strategic alliance against the growing power of Russia.

Swedish scholars and researchers undertake research expeditions to the Ottoman Empire, among them Jacob Jonas Björnståhl, Johan David Åkerbladh, Margaretha Heijkensköld and Johan Hedenborg.

The Swedish king Charles XII stays as a guest of the Ottoman sultan in Bender and Demotika after his defeat against Russia at Poltava.

A permanent Swedish embassy is established in the Ottoman capital.

The embassy acquires the current compound in Pera (Beyoglu).

After repeated fires have destroyed the earlier embassy buildings, the current Palais de Suéde is opened.

A house for the Dragoman (interpreter) is added to the embassy compound.

Various Swedes live in Istanbul, among them the photographer Guillaume Berggren and the author Stéphanie Beyel.

Ture J. Arne proposes the establishment of a Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul to offer facilities for ”students of the Orient and the Classical culture”.

At the initiative of prof. Pontus Fahlbeck and Johannes Kolmodin, the last Swedish Dragoman in Istanbul, a Swedish guest house for scholars opens in Moda (Kadiköy) but has to close soon again due to lack of funds.

The Swedish embassy moves to Ankara; a Consul General remains in Istanbul

The first Swedish excavations at Labraunda under the leadership of Prof. Axel W. Persson.

At the initiative of ambassador Adolf Croneborg a small Swedish Research Institute is set up within the old Palais de Suède.


After restoration works, the Swedish Research Institute moves into the old Dragoman building.

Financial support from the Swedish government enables full-time employment of a director in Istanbul.

The Dragoman house is extended with a permanent flat for the director and an auditorium for lectures.

An Annex with ten guest rooms is opened next to the Dragoman house.