Historical Landmark

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Köprülü Mehmed Pasha (in AlbanianMehmed Pashë Kypriljoti or Qyprilliu, also called: Mehmed Pashá Rojniku) (born at 1575, 1578 or 1583 in Rojnik, BeratAlbania– 31 October 1661 Edirne), was the Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire from 1656 until his death. He was the first leader and founder of the Albanian Köprülü noble dynasty/family.


He was recruited as a part of the devshirmeh system and was trained in the palace school. He eventually rose to the rank of pasha and was appointed the beylerbey (provincial governor) of the Trebizond Vilayet in 1644. Later he was to rule the provinces of Eğri in 1647, of Karamanid in 1648, and of Anadolu in 1650. He served as vizier of the divan for one week in 1652 before being dismissed due to the constant power struggle within the palace. He retired to an estate in the small town of Köprü in northern Anatolia that he had inherited from his father-in-law. The town became the seat of his family, and the family came to be called as Köprülü, meaning ‘from Köprü’. It is called Vezirköprü today to the family’s honor.

In 1656 the political situation in Ottoman Empire was very critical. The war in Crete against the Venetians was still continuing. The Ottoman Navy under Captain-of-Seas Kenan Pasha on May 1656 was defeated by the Venetian and Maltese navy at Battle of Dardanelles (1656) and the Venetian navy continued the blockade of the Canakkale Straits cutting the Ottoman army at Crete from Istanbul, the state capital. There was a political plot to unseat the reigning Sultan Mehmed IV led by important viziers including the Grand Mufti (Seyhulislam) Mesud Effendi. This plot was discovered and the plotters were executed or exiled. The Mother Sultana Turhan Hatice conducted consultations and the most favored candidate for the post of Grand Vizier came out as the old and retired but experienced Koprulu Mehmed Pasha. Koprulu Mehmed Pasha was offered the post of Grand Vizier but he would only accept it if he was given extraordinary powers and political rule without interference, even from the highest authority of the Sultan. His conditions were accepted and he was appointed Grand Vizier by the Sultan Mehmed IV on 15 September 1656.

As the Grand Vizier, his first task was to advise Sultan Mehmed IV to conduct a life of hunts and traveling around the Balkans and to reside in the old capital of Edirne, thus stop his political interventions. In 4 January 1657 the household cavalry Sipahi troops in Istanbul started a rebellion and this was cruelly suppressed by Koprulu Mehmed Pasha with the help of janissary troops. The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Istanbul was proven to be in treasonous contacts with the enemies of Ottoman state and Koprulu Mehmed Pasha approved of his execution.

Against external enemies of the Empire Mehmed Köprülü was also quite successful. He started on a military expeditions against the Venetian blockade of Dardanelles Straits. The Ottoman navy had a victory against Venice in the Battle of the Dardanelleson 19 July 1657. This allowed Ottomans to regain some of the Aegean islands, including Tenedos and Limni (15 November) and to open the sea-supply routes to the Ottoman Army still conducting the sieges of Crete.

Koprulu Mehmed Pasha then directed his attention to internal rebellions in Anatolia and started on a military campaign in Anatolia. He suppressed the revolts some of the Anatolian governors of provinces, most notably the revolt of Abaza Hasan Pasha, the ruler of Aleppo and of Ahmed Pasha, Kenan Pasha, Ali Mirza Pasha, Ferhad Pasha, Mustafa Pasha in 1658–1659.

In 1658 he conducted a successful campaign in Transylvania where he defeated the disloyal vassal prince, George II Rákóczi (György Rákóczi), and had him replaced. He also annexed Yanova (Jenö) on 1 August 1660 and Várad on 27 August.

In July 1660 there was a big fire in Istanbul (the Ayazmakapi Fire) causing great damage to persons and buildings, leading later to a food scarcity and plague. Koprulu Mehmed Pasha became personally involved in the reconstruction affairs. The honesty and integrity in conducting state affairs by Koprulu Mehmed Pasha is shown by an episode in this task [see Sakaoglu (1999) p.281). The burnt-out Jewish quarters from the Ayazmakapi Fire were decided to be compulsorily purchased by the state. The Jewish merchants with the aim of changing this policy offered the Grand Vizier a very large monetary bribe from their ‘Accidents and Emergencies Fund’. This was refused by the Grand Vizier and those who offered the bribes were punished.

Koprulu Mehmed Pasha died in Edirne on 31 October 1661. During his short extraordinary rule as the Grand Vizier from 1656 to 1661 the Ottoman Empire had regained some of its former prestige and power internally and externally. Koprulu Mehmed’s victories in Transylvania would push the Ottoman border closer to Austria. He was succeeded as Grand Vizier by his son, Köprülü Fazıl Ahmet Pasha.

 |  CATEGORIES: Historical Landmark

Little Hagia Sophia (TurkishKüçuk Ayasofya Camii), formerly the Church of the Saints Sergius and Bacchus (Greek: Eκκλησία τῶν Άγίων Σεργίου καί Βάκχου ὲν τοῖς Ὸρμίσδου), is a former Eastern Orthodox church dedicated to Saints Sergius and Bacchus in Constantinople, later converted into a mosque during the Ottoman Empire.

This Byzantine building with a central dome plan was erected in the 6th century and was a model for the Hagia Sophia, the main church of the Byzantine Empire. It is one of the most important early Byzantine buildings in Istanbul.The building stands in Istanbul, in the district of Fatih and in the neighborhood of Kumkapi, at a short distance from the Marmara Sea, near the ruins of the Great Palace and to the south of the Hippodrome. It is now separated from the sea by theSirkeci-Halkalı suburban railway line and the coastal road.Location[edit]History[edit]Byzantine period

Plan of the building

A particular of the Colonnade

According to later legend, during the reign of Justin I, his nephew Justinian had been accused of plotting against the throne and was sentenced to death. However, in a dream, the saints Sergius and Bacchus appeared before Justin and vouched for Justinian’s innocence. He was freed and restored to his title of Caesar, and in gratitude vowed that he would dedicate a church to the saints once he became emperor. The construction of this Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus, between 527 and 536 AD (only a short time before the erection of the Hagia Sophia between 532 and 537), was one of the first acts of the reign of Justinian I.[1]

It lay at the border between the First and Τhird Regio of the City.[2] The location that was chosen for the new church was an irregular area between the Palace of Hormisdas (the house of Justinian before his accession to the throne) and the Church of the Saints Peter and Paul. Back then, the two churches shared the same narthexatrium and propylaea. The new church became the center of the complex, and part still survives today, towards the south of the northern wall of one of the two other edifices. The church was one of the most important religious structures in Constantinople. Shortly after the building of the church amonastery bearing the same name was built near the edifice.

Due to its strong external resemblance to the Hagia Sophia, it is believed that the building had been designed by the same architects, namely Isidorus of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles, and that its erection was a kind of “dress rehearsal” for that of the largest church of the Byzantine Empire. However, in terms of architectural details, the building is quite different in design from the Hagia Sophia and the notion that it was but a small-scale version has largely been discredited. [1]

During the years 536 and 537, the Palace of Hormisdas became a Monophysite monastery, where followers of that sect, coming from the eastern regions of the Empire and escaping the persecutions against them, found protection by Empress Theodora[3]

In year 551 Pope Vigilius, who some years before had been summoned to Constantinople by Justinian, found refuge in the church from the soldiers of the Emperor who wanted to capture him, and this attempt caused riots. [3] During the Iconoclastic period the monastery became one of the centers of this movement in the City.

Ottoman period

20101222 Kucuk Ayasofya Mosque Istanbul Turkey.ogv

22 December 2010: Muslim prayers in the mosque.

After the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the church remained untouched until the reign of Bayezid II. Then (between 1506 and 1513) it was transformed into a mosque by Hüseyin Ağa, the chief of the Aghas, (Black Eunuchs) who were the custodians of the Bab-ı-Saadet (literally The Gate of Felicity in Ottoman Turkish) in the Sultan‘s residence, the Topkapı Palace. At that time the portico and madrasah were added to the building. [4]

In 1740 the Grand Vizier Hacı Ahmet Paşa restored the mosque and built the Şadırvan (fountain). Damage caused by the earthquakes of 1648 and 1763 were repaired in 1831 under the reign of Sultan Mahmud II. In 1762 the minaret was first built. It was demolished in 1940 and built again in 1956. [4]

The pace of decay of the building, which already suffered because of humidity and earthquakes through the centuries, accelerated after the construction of the railroad. The laying down of the railroad caused parts of St. Peter and Paul to be demolished to the south of the building. Other damage was caused by the building’s use as housing for the refugees during the Balkan Wars[4]

Due to the increasing threats to the building’s static integrity, it was added some years ago to the UNESCO watch list of endangered monuments. The World Monuments Fund added it to its Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites in 2002, 2004, and 2006. After an extensive restoration which lasted several years and ended in September 2006, it has been opened again to the public and for worship.



The exterior masonry of the structure adopts the usual technique of that period in Constantinople, which uses bricks sunk in thick beds of mortar. The walls are reinforced by chains made of small stone blocks.

The building, the central plan of which was consciously repeated in the basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna and served as a model for the famous Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan in the construction of the Rüstem Pasha Mosque, has the shape of an octagon inscribed in an irregular quadrilateral. It is surmounted by a beautiful umbrella dome in sixteen compartments with eight flat sections alternating with eight concave ones, standing on eight polygonal pillars.

The narthex lies on the west side, opposed to an antechoir.[5] Many effects in the building were later used in Hagia Sophia: the exedrae expand the central nave on diagonal axes, colorful columns screen the ambulatories from the nave, and light and shadow contrast deeply on the sculpture of capitals and entablature.[6]

In front of the building there is a portico (which replaced the atrium) and a court (both added during the Ottoman period), with a small garden, a fountain for the ablutions and several small shops.


Inside the edifice there is a beautiful two-storey colonnade which runs along the north, west and south sides, and bears an elegant inscription in twelve Greek hexameters dedicated to the Emperor Justinian, his wife, Theodora, and Saint Sergius, the patron-saint of the soldiers of the Roman army. For some unknown reason, Saint Bacchus is not mentioned. The columns are alternately of verd antique and red Synnada marble; the lower storey has 16, while the upper has 18. Many of the column capitals still bear the monograms of Justinian and Theodora. [7]

  • The Apse of the former Church with the Mihrab. The Minbar is seen in the foreground.

  • Colonnades.

  • Dome.

  • Interior north-west.

Nothing remains of the original interior decoration of the church, which contemporary chroniclers describe as being covered in mosaics with walls of variegated marble. During the Ottoman conversion into a mosque, the windows and entrance were modified, floor level raised, and interior walls plastered.[6]


North of the edifice there is a small Muslim cemetery with the türbe of Hüseyin Ağa, the founder of the mosque.

 |  CATEGORIES: Historical Landmark, Whereist Sultanahmet

Mausoleum  shows finest examples of İznik tiles at the height of their technical achievements. Including the infamous Coral red (mercan kırmızısı) which surfaced for 50 years and then lost.


This mausoleum was built by architect Davud Ağa in 1599. Featuring a hexagonal ground plan and marble exterior, the mausoleum has a portico in the foreground which bears Kelime-i Tevhid (Islamic testimony of God’s unity) in kufic calligraphy on the center of its dome. Despite the unadorned exterior, the mausoleum is opulent with the finest examples of XVI century coral İznik tiles and painted decorations. The entrance door made of ebony and encrusted in mother-of-pearl bears the signature of its artist; architect Dalgiç Ahmed Ağa, master craftsman of mother-of-pearl.

Sultan Murad III, his wife Safiye Sultan, and his sons and daughters are buried here.



 |  CATEGORIES: Historical Landmark, Whereist Beyazit

Şehzade Mosque (Turkish: ‘Şehzade Camii’) is an Ottoman imperial mosque located in the district of Fatih, on the third hill of IstanbulTurkey. It is sometimes referred to as the “Prince’s Mosque” in English.[1]


The Şehzade Mosque was commissioned by 
Sultan Suleiman I in memory of his eldest son by Hürrem, Prince Mehmet, who died of smallpox at the age of 21 in 1543, though the cause for his death is disputed. Suleiman’s two wives had borne him eight sons, four of whom survived past the 1550s. They were MustafaSelim, Bayezid, and Jihangir.  It was the first major commission by the Imperial Architect Mimar Sinan, and was completed in 1548. It is considered by architectural historians as Sinan’s first masterpiece of classical Ottoman architecture.



The mosque is surrounded by an inner colonnaded courtyard (avlu) with an area equal to that of the mosque itself. The courtyard is bordered by a portico with five domed bays on each side, with arches in alternating pink and white marble. At the center is an ablution fountain (şadırvan), which was a later donation from Sultan Murat IV. The two minarets have elaborate geometric sculpture in low bas-relief and occasional terracotta inlays.

The mosque itself has a square plan, covered by a central dome, flanked by four half-domes. The dome is supported by four piers, and has a diameter of 19 meters and it is 37 meters high. It was in this building that Sinan first adopted the technique of placing colonnaded galleries along the entire length of the north and south facades in order to conceal the buttresses.


Interior of the mosque

Interior of the mosque

The interior of the Şehzade Mosque has a symmetrical plan, with the area under the central dome expanded by use of four semidomes, one on each side, in the shape of a four leaf clover. This technique was not entirely successful, as it isolated the four huge piers needed to support the central dome, and was never again repeated by Sinan. The interior of the mosque has a very simple design, without galleries.

The Complex

Şehzade complex (Külliye) is situated between Fatih and Bayezid complexes. The Külliye consists of the mosque, the (türbe) of Prince Mehmet (which was completed prior to the mosque), two Qur’an schools (medrese), a public kitchen (imaret) which served food to the poor, and a caravansarai. The mosque and its courtyard are surrounded by a wall that separates them from the rest of the complex.

The Şehzade Türbe

The imperial mausoleums (türbe) are noted for their lavish use of İznik tiles. The first and largest is the türbe of Şehzade Mehmet, an octagonal structure, with polychrome stonework and terracotta window frames and arches and an opus sectile porch. The double dome is fluted. An inscription in Persian verse over the door gives the date of the Prince’s death and suggests that the interior of the türbe is like a garden in Paradise. The interior is covered in extremely rare apple-green and lemon-yellow İznik tilesfrom floor to top of the interior dome, and the windows have stained glass. A curious feature of the türbe is a walnut baldachino over the tomb itself. Within the türbe are also the tombs of Mehmet’s daughter Humusah Sultan and his brother Cihangir.

To the left and behind the Şehzade Türbe is the türbe of Grand Vizier Rüstem Pasha, also by Sinan. Rüstem Pasha was the son-in-law of Suleiman the Magnificent. As at the Rüstem Pasha Mosque, an overwhelming quantity of Iznik tiles was used. By the gate to the complex is the türbe of Grand Vizier Ibraham Pasha, son-in-law of Murat III, who died in 1601. The türbe was designed by Dalgıç Ahmed Çavuş, and almost equals that of Şehzade Türbe in design and use of tiled decoration.

 |  CATEGORIES: Art & Cultural, Bars & Drinks, Bosphorus View, Cultural & Museums, Food, Historical Landmark


Tuesday – Saturday 12:00-8PM

Sunday: 10:30am – 6PM

Cafe is open until 11PM



French Levantine architect Alexandre Vallaury designed the original building of SALT Galata to house the Ottoman Bank as inaugurated in 1892. The building is a landmark unique to İstanbul with surprisingly distinct architectural styles—neoclassical and oriental—applied on opposite façades.The redesign of the building, also undertaken by Mimarlar Tasarım, involves the introduction of major new structural interventions, while the office’s architectural approach clears the building of later surface additions to reveal original contemporary features.SALT Galata is organized to enable a challenging, multi-layered program that includes SALT Research, which offers public access to thousands of print and digital resources; a 219-capacity Auditorium; the renovated Ottoman Bank Museum; Workshop spaces; an Open Archive where archival research projects are interpreted and discussed; a temporary exhibition space; as well as a Café, Restaurant and Bookstore.
The two floors above ground level on SALT Galata’s new extension, overlooking Perşembe Pazarı, have been allocated to the Café and Restaurant. The open-plan Café is built from concrete, while the Restaurant, accessible through the Café, is a steel and glass cube. The choice of building materials applied here and the deliberate exposure of the structure of the extension, as designed by Mimarlar Tasarım and Zehra Uçar, ensure distinction from the original 1892 building. The Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin library—an important asset of SALT Research—is housed inside the Café.
SALT Galata
founded by Garanti
Bankalar Caddesi 11 – Next to Merkez Bankası Building
Karaköy 34420 İstanbul TürkiyeT +90 212 334 22 00
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 |  CATEGORIES: Historical Landmark



From the second half of  XIX. th century to the on set of XX th century, 
when the first national Turkish style has  occured, the samples reflecting the traces 
of Western Architectural Culture have  been built in Karaköy and its 
neighbourhood. Generally, in these civil architectural samples formed by the bank 
and closed-street, the reflections and traces of this style have been given in the 
styles of Neobarok , Neo-Classic, Neo-Gothic, Art Nouveau and Eclectic.  
Most important representative of Art Nouveaus Style between those is 
service buildings of İstanbul Karaköy Ziraat Bank.   

During the late 80'ies I designed a store and head office for the Odeon white goods chain at the ground floor of Casa Botter and vaguely remember the Karakoy Mosque. My mother worked at the Ziraat Bank. (old Wiener Bank- Verein[1] 1912 building).

Mavi Boncuk |

Karaköy Mosque stood behind the bank building until 1959. Build during the reign of . Abdülhamit the second by the royal architect Raimondo D'Aronco[1] it was dismantled during the massive modernisation that caused many architectural treasures to dissappear. With plans to be transfered to Kınalıada, one of the Princes islands the transport ship listed and lost its unbalanced cargo during the short trip.


One of the marble pices saved is in the courtyard of the Kınalıada Mosque. It's intricately carved ebony mihrab/prayer niche can be seen at 'daki Yahya Kethüda Mosque in Kasımpaşa.

[1]Wiener Bank- Verein. branches in Istanbul and Izmir.

[2] Raimondo Tommaso D’Aronco (1857–1932) was an Italian architect renowned for his building designs in the style of Art Nouveau. He was the chief palace architect to the Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamid II in Istanbul, Turkey for 16 years.
Art Nouveau was first introduced to Istanbul by d'Aronco, and his designs reveal that he drew freely on Byzantine and Ottoman decoration for his inspiration. D'Aronco made creative use of the forms and motifs of Islamic architecture to create modern buildings for the city.


The buildings, which he designed at Yıldız Palace, were European in style. The best known of these are Yildiz Palace pavilions and the Yildiz Ceramic Factory (1893–1907), the Janissary Museum and the Ministry of Agriculture (1898), the fountain of Abdulhamit II (1901), Karakoy Mosque (1903), the mausoleum for the African religious leader Sheikh Zafir (1905–1906), tomb within the cemetery of Fatih Mosque (1905), Cemil Bey House at Kireçburnu (1905), clock tower for the Hamidiye-i Etfal Hospital (1906). Casa Botter (1900–1901), a seven-story workshop and residence building in Istiklal Avenue in Beyoğlu, which he designed for the sultan’s Dutch fashion tailor M. Jean Botter, represents a turning point in D’Aronco’s architecture.

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 |  CATEGORIES: Historical Landmark

Vlora Han, an art nouveau masterpiece by an unknown architect that closely resembles the better known Casa Botter on İstiklal Caddesi, which was designed by the Italian architect Raimondo d'Aronco. Despite the all-encompassing grime you can hardly fail to be impressed by the delicate stone roses adorning it and by the elaborate wrought-iron windows and balconies.


Vlora Han is a beautiful Art Nouveau office building at Sirkeci, within the commercial centre of historic Istanbul. The crowd of advertisements on the facades and alterations to the shopfronts make it difficult to appreciate the beauty of the building.

The Vlora Han, or inn, is located at the corner of Vasıf Çınar and Fincancılar Street in Sirkeci, right across the Big Post Office. It has lots of bay windows and balconies at the front. The sides have no balconies, but simply elegant guardrails. The rosebuds and floral motifs are very attractive. What makes this building different from other art nouveau works is the attention that has been paid to every detail.

However, the structure is currently in very bad shape and needs immediate maintenance. Today almost all of the ornaments are covered by billboards and signs.

Upon its arrival in Istanbul, art nouveau was viewed by most as a Western tradition. Raimondo D'Aronco, the early 20th century Italian architect renowned for his art-nouveau-style building designs, introduced the famous European style to the city. In the many buildings he designed, D'Aronco beautifully mixed the characteristics of Turkish Ottoman architecture with those of art nouveau. This week, a jury from daily Hürriyet has highlighted the most beautiful examples of art nouveau architecture in Istanbul. Though some have already been restored, the rest are almost totally neglected, including the Vlora Han in Sirkeci and the Botter Apartments in Beyoğlu.


Art Nouveau Top 10


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 |  CATEGORIES: Historical Landmark, Tours, Whereist Eminonu




Büyük Valide Han: a hidden treasure among the ordinary

Have you ever been to Tahtakale, Eminönü? If you walk past the knickknack and brick-a-brack stores and countless bead shops, backgammon sellers and textile dealers, you will reach an area called Mercan.There are[URBAN LEGENDS] Büyük Valide Han: a hidden treasure among the ordinary - <p>Have you ever been to Tahtakale, Eminönü? If you walk past the knickknack and brick-a-brack stores and countless bead shops, backgammon sellers and textile dealers, you will reach an area called Mercan. </p> some ordinary looking buildings, but all you have to do to understand the grandeur and antiquity of some of the historic buildings among them is take a look at their roofs, which are covered with domes, or enter them and come across age-old courtyards that look like souks you’d find in any Middle Eastern city, which tourists would flock to if they were in a touristy area. However, here in Mercan, these souk-like city hans still continue their mercantile routine enmeshed with textile and metal ateliers where the ordinary and the fascinating stand shoulder-to-shoulder. Then you find yourself asking, “Is it better that a treasure, a historical beauty, stay like this, almost hidden among the ordinary, or should ‘cultural preservation’ work be carried out to highlight its historical worth?”

I guess the most efficient way to protect a historical entity, be it a building, a palace, a garden or a statue, is to have one’s personal and emotional connection to it be reflected and transmitted to others in an effort to “preserve” it. It then comes down to the question of how this very entity can be protected without being “preserved” in such a way that intends to freeze the life around it to a “forced authenticity” — almost more authentic than the authentic itself — and without being allowed to deteriorate out of being neglected for so long. The question of how to handle a historical entity that continues its life in a gradually changing context, when handled with care by specialist researchers in the area, can actually yield very positive results, forming an example for similar situations. In the “Büyük Valide Han project for research on cultural and collective memory, documentation and recollection,” carried out with the support of the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK), four academic researchers have put together an impressive model of how personal attachment and political concern for a place can actually make a change in the way a historical entity is understood and approached. They are four people, four academicians, who have gathered together throughout this project and worked hard to come up with an understanding of Büyük Valide Han as a “functioning” habitat embedded in a certain context of diversity and abandonment awaiting its destiny. This has so far been an oral history documentation project, and with a perfectly “embedded and situated” researcher like Burak Sevingen on board, it seems that there is no way the residents or even the empty halls of Büyük Valide Han could be discontent with the research results. The reason I have this opinion on this research in general and on an ongoing exhibition that Sevingen and his colleagues have put together in particular is that this project puts forward that an intimate relation between the researched and the researcher is actually possible, which is a huge step forward.

They are four people — Professor Ayşegül Baykan from Yıldız Technical University (YTÜ), Associate Professor Belkıs Uluoğlu from İstanbul Technical University, Associate Professor Zerrin İren Boynudelik from YTÜ and research assistant Sevingen from YTÜ — who have been working on the Büyük Valide Han project since 2006 and have put together an immense amount of footage — hundreds of hours, which have been turned into several documentaries and have been shown throughout their exhibition — thousands of photos and notes recording the oral history of the site, with the support of TÜBİTAK.

For the past few weeks, they have held an amazing exhibition in Büyük Valide Han with video, art, panel discussions and the like. Throughout the exhibition, two TV sets in the exhibition room have shown documentaries about Büyük Valide Han while one TV set displays a slide show of photos.

However, the most exciting way to learn about Büyük Valide Han is to actually go there and spend hours in its multifaceted corridors, spend time in metalwork, glassware or hat ateliers talking to old masters of the craft, go to the çay shop inside the building and have a chat with the people who are inside talking to the usta (expert). Judging by its people and its rituals, it is no wonder that Sevingen spends all his time here doing his anthropological research since Büyük Valide Han is a box of surprises with many mysteries within.

One of the most curious urban legends about Büyük Valide Han is that Kösem Sultan hid all her treasure in the depths of the Byzantine tower that now looks like an extension of the building. And ever since then countless treasure hunters have visited the han before and after the invention of metal detectors.

Since they have been researching Büyük Valide Han for years, it is a good idea to pay attention to the general observations and specific depictions made by this TÜBİTAK-supported academic documentation project.

Büyük Valide Han Büyük Valide Han is located on the Historical Peninsula of İstanbul. Specifically, it stands in the Han district and within the Mercan neighborhood on Çakmakçılar Yokuşu. Büyük Valide Han (the Grand Han of the Mother Sultan) was built by Kösem Sultan (d. 1651), the mother of Murat IV and İbrahim, rulers of the Ottoman Empire, during the 17th century to provide resources for the upkeep of Çinili Camii, which she had founded earlier. It is a “city han” (as opposed to a caravanserai). With two levels and three courtyards, the Büyük Valide Han of today maintains the original character of the building although it has had significant layers of additions and alterations made in form and structure. Büyük Valide Han in narrative Between the battered walls of Büyük Valide Han, as you enter the first courtyard and then the second, busy traffic and modern-looking storefronts conducting wholesale trade in clothing and fabrics welcome you. Yet, as one’s gaze acquires familiarity with the clash of additions and diverse materials that expand to the second floor, few of whose arches are left, having been diminished by these additions, one senses the sudden loss of human presence among the dark upper corridors, where from behind iron doors one encounters the sounds of only a few ateliers still at work. Yet, tenants who are able to remember Büyük Valide Han from three decades ago can recall a time when all the rooms were packed with workers, dozens of weaving looms working nonstop, porters, turners and foundry men always hard at work, coffee shops crowded and customers abounding. Today, there are more than a few residents who have gone away and, having succeeded or failed in business, have come back to Büyük Valide Han for a new try. Architecture as a life form A comparison of Büyük Valide Han with other hans shows a distinct difference in terms of this building’s dizzying effect. As with most city hans, but maybe to a greater extent here, a multilayered, complex and even a “filthy” character predominates. Different layers exist together; the Byzantine tower and other parts are woven together in the building as if it were a montage. The pre-existent mosque is no longer here; it has been replaced by a contemporary masjid, and another small building stands close to it. Various, mind-blurring materials are side by side and on top of each other. This chaotic hybrid picture reveals the intricacies of the life and history of the building and the hectic character of the lives here. The inhabitants In its population, Büyük Valide Han has embodied the quintessential character of the Ottoman Empire and later the changing character of modern Turkey. It has housed various segments of the population, people of different religions and geographical origins, with skills and trades to exchange. The han adapted to changing times by foregoing its residential rooms and increasingly housing the important trade of the times, such as printing in the late 19th century or fabric weaving during the 20th. Witnesses to the last half century at Büyük Valide Han recall the presence of leather workers, carpet dyers, cardboard traders, chest and scale makers and producers of sacks. Today, the renovated shops opening to its courtyard sell wholesale clothing and other products. On the second floor, one finds workshops of metal workers, pressing rooms, textile shops, etc. Some have been in Büyük Valide Han for 30 to 40 years. Until the 1980s, the weavers on the second floor sold their merchandise, and their traditional customers were often other merchants from Anatolia who were accustomed to coming to Büyük Valide Han for their purchases.

On the second floor, where most rooms are empty and locked up, less than 25 ateliers still operate. In them, craftsmen specialized in metals and textiles make up the two main categories of labor. Turners, polishers, foundry men, jewelers can be found among the metal workers whereas a hat maker, ironers, a cloth dyer and a label maker today make up the population of textile workers in Büyük Valide Han.

The Iranian Masjid, in the second courtyard, which once was a smaller wooden structure serving the large volume of Iranian merchants who used to do business in Büyük Valide Han, is today surrounded by shops, but nevertheless occupies a central role in the lives of a distinct cultural group on İstanbul. The congregation of the mosque are Shiite Muslims. This community comprises mainly former immigrant Azeri families of Iranian descent. This mosque has been their single most important gathering place during times of immigration. It also brings together people who shared a distant past at Büyük Valide Han.

As for the prospect of change, what the four academics think about Büyük Valide Han and its future is that in such cases, layers of living and working conditions and life patterns meaningful in now distant cultures are interwoven into the physical space. Their aim has been to reflect on the ways in which the space of Büyük Valide Han has been meaningful in diverse and sometimes contradictory ways to its inhabitants and also to the body of policy makers, tourists and researchers who objectify the Büyük Valide Han to their own ends. But the TÜBİTAK researchers conducting this project have so far claimed that they have made a small attempt to preserve the memory of Büyük Valide Han — they merely took note of times past.

I believe it is more than a small attempt at providing a model for countless historical entities in its vicinity of how to retain them in our collective unconscious by telling their stories, their personal histories, repeatedly and not letting them be neglected to the point of oblivion ever again.


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  • Construction year: 1554-1564
  • The city it is located in: İstanbul
  • The borough it is located in: Eyüp
  • The neighbourhood it is located in: Göktürk
  • Address: İstanbul Avenue, Göktürk, Eyüp
  • How to reach the place: This aqueduct is located 3 km from central Kemerburgaz, near the netrance to Kemer Country.
  • Monument type: Aqueduct
  • The function today: Aqueduct
  • The ownership: Istanbul Water and Sewerage Administration
  • The bibliography that link the building to Sinan: TE, TB, TM
  • Information about the monument: 711 m in length, the Uzun Aqueduct (Kemer) is the longest structure of the Kırkçeşme Water Works system. The flood that destroyed the Moğlova Aqueduct in 1563 also affected the Uzun Aqueduct. With a road that passes underneath the aqueduct now, it is easily visible and accessible.

The Uzun Kemer (Long Aqueduct) on the Belgrade Forest follows the Byzantine pattern of tiers of tall arches that are pointed but not rounded, and these may have been built in accordance with Sinan’s plan.

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  • Construction year: 1554-1564
  • The city it is located in: İstanbul
  • The borough it is located in: Kemerburgaz
  • The neighbourhood it is located in: Kemerburgaz
  • Address: Bahçeköy-Kemerburgaz Road, Eyüp
  • How to reach the place: This Aqueduct is on the forest road that leads from Bahçeköy to Kemerburgaz.
  • Monument type: Aqueduct
  • The function today: Aqueduct
  • The ownership: Istanbul Water and Sewerage Administration
  • The bibliography that link the building to Sinan: TE, TB, TM
  • Information about the monument: Because it was part of the Kırkçeşme Water Works system, it has been well preserved and remains intact today. Unfortunately, due to heavy foliage surrounding the area, especially during summer time, only a small portion of the Aqueduct is readily visible.
  • http://www.whereist.com/wp-content/uploads/HLIC/021034f1e9844f23de2a9a9dd93c8b81.jpg
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