Santral Istanbul is a recent addition to the cultural landscape of Istanbul located at the beginning of the Golden Horn. It consists of a modern art museum, an energy museum, an amphitheatre, concert halls and a public library, all situated within the Silahtarağa campus of Istanbul Bilgi University. Jose Manuel Barroso called it “a superb example of post-industrial urban renewal.” Santral Istanbul's preliminary opening was held in July 2007 in presence of Prime Minister Erdoğan. The official opening took place in September 2007.
Silahtaraga Power Station supplied Istanbul with electric power from 1914 to 1983. The thermal power plant was the first one in the Ottoman Empire, built by a Budapest-based Austro-Hungarian Company. It started to supply power to a tram net and to the sultan's palace in February 1914, just before the outbreak of World War I. In March 1983 it was shut down.
The redevelopment plan was an idea of a businessman and founder of Istanbul Bilgi University. The private Bilgi University was founded in 1996. Bilgi is renowned for its liberal atmosphere and critical professors. The university was host to the first conference on the Armenian issue in 2005, held a Kurdish conference in 2006 and was the first Turkish university to have a gay students’ association. At Bilgi there are currently around 10,000 students studying in three campuses, including the campus of Santral.