Selection of foreign bank branches in the Ottoman Empire

Constantinople / Istanbul

The Wiener Bankverein [Vienese banking trust] branch in Constantinople opened a branch in Smyrna in 1910. After the First World War was lost, the bank had lost its function as a link between Vienna and the Orient. The Wiener Bankverein was therefore forced to cede the branches in Constantinople and Smyrna to a related French bank for around 7 million francs. Previously, it was under the control of the Allied control authority in both cities. The Banque Francaise pour le Commerce et lndustrie founded a new French Orient Bank which took over the branches including its staff and customers. The Wiener Bankverein participated in this with a share package and sent two delegates to the Board of Directors. The crowd in the photo on the right apparently waits in vain for the credit to be paid in front of the branch in Constantinople in 1918/19. The situation in Smyrna will not have been any different. Until the last restoration in 2019, the inscription WIENER BANK VEREIN was emblazoned on the cornice on the building of the bank association directly with the Galata Bridge which it still faces as seen below - information courtesy of Elmar Samsinger.


The statues and armorials around the building still survive.

The former German Orient bank branch in Galata, Constantinople. The other branch was in Smyrna.

The former Banca di Roma seen in the background of the President Celal Bayar touring the pogrom ravaged Beyoğlu on 7 September 1955.

Smyrna / Izmir

Athens bank, Smyrna - below post the great fire of 1922.

Bank of Rome, Smyrna before and below, after the fire

The Greek National Bank of Smyrna, in 1922 - the foreground shows Greek soldiers marched into captivity by Turkish troops which had recently entered the city.

The same building perhaps just a few weeks later after the Great Fire of 1922, relatively intact while showing the building on the left the former Oriental Carpet Manufacturers warehouse totally gutted with just its major rectangular entrance standing. The former bank building would later serve as the main national post office of Izmir.


Plan of Bank of Salonique in 1906. This bank was a creation from the Austrian Länderbank and also established branches in other cities of the Ottoman Empire with a founding capital of million francs. The bank was to be regarded as a branch of the Länderbank. The administration drew from an international base: for Vienna: Moriz Bauer, Nicolaus Dumba, jun., Bourgoing, Blum; for Salonica: Allatini Fernandez, Miracki; for Paris: Ullmann (Prager Tagblatt from May 22, 1888, 8). With regard to the Banque de Salonique, it should be noted that the Länderbank, as a result of its agreements in 1909, gave up most of its Banque de Salonique shares to its French friends, but it remained interested in the institution with a moderate amount. (Pester Lloyd of March 1, 1912, 9). The branch in Smyrna was created in 1898 with the participating as a limited partner in the bank Kaiser & Komp. in Smyrna. The latter was merged with the Banque de Salonique in 1905. The Banque de Salonique passed almost entirely into French ownership in 1909 - information courtesy of Elmar Samsinger. Below this former branch building today.


The impressive Ottoman bank building in Alexandria. By the early 20th century Ottoman control of Egypt had become on paper only for decades so strictly speaking this Ottoman Bank was also a foreign bank as the empire was creaking at the seams on many fronts. The impressive stone architecture very much in classical style has much to do in exuding a sense of solidity and confidence of the finances of such institutions which are not always in reflection of reality and the Ottoman Bank also suffered various convulsions in its history.