Imagine a cross between the Automobile Association and the National Trust, which earns funds for conservation by building and manning border-posts and customs facilities for the government. This is the Turkish Touring and Automobile Club, founded in 1925 just before Kemal Ataturk overthrew the Sultans, and from the start keenly involved in the conservation of Turkey's national and architectural heritage.
'In other countries there are many organisations to undertake conservation', explains its director general, Celik Gulersoy. 'In Turkey, only the state and our organisation are capable of carrying out these functions'. One of its most striking achievements – for which Gulersoy has fought long and hard against the municipal authorities intent on bulldozing away the past in the name of progress – is the saving of a select few of Istanbul's vulnerable and long undervalued, wooden houses of the later Ottoman era. Visitors to the capital now have the chance not only to see, but also to stay in some of these.