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If you happen to pass by Kurtuluş, please feel free to get lost in the streets!

If you happen to pass by Kurtuluş, please feel free to get lost in the streets! Instead of the glittering in the limelight, you would feel the sorrow to be sunk into oblivion and enjoy the delight of touching the time.
Istanbul has such districts that, when you take a look at them, you cannot anticipate that they had been an important part of the city once. Having lost their glimmer and dynamism, they remain silent in their own shell. As if they haven’t hosted any fairs and carnivals and blended religions and people of every kind… They stand still like a naughty child, hidden in a nook corner after doing something wrong.

However, if you look carefully, you will see that various sects of the same religions and people from different countries have adopted these streets. Such that these districts had   brought together people of different religions, ethnicity and nationality… Despite some problems due to this diversity, they are special enough to host new urban transformation projects… Help yourself through the pages of In İstanbul and lets witness the dedicated history of these districts.

A burnt Tatavla (Byre), a settled Kurtuluş
Kurtuluş District, which had become a settlement area during the reign of Kanuni the Lawmaker, by populating of the immigrants from Chios, was once known as “Tatavla”. The name “Tatavla” was derived from “Ta Tavla” the Greek corresponding for “Byre”. The reason for this was that the barns and the meadows of the palace were situated there. After the great fire in 1929, the district was given the name “Kurtuluş

Kurtuluş, in historical records, is mentioned, until the mid-19th century, as a poor Greek district. From this date to the mid-20th century, the richest and the most crowded Greek groups had lived in this area. Despite the marks of these riches are faint nowadays, the district has the airs of “she’s beautiful although she’s old”.

As Orhan Türker tells in his book “A Corner from the Ottoman İstanbul: Tatavla”; although the Turks and other minority groups had started to settle in Kurtuluş, the dominance of the Greeks had continued until the 1950’s. Most of the Greeks of Kurtuluş who had suffered the 6-7 September incidents, were deported according to the law enacted in 1964. A rapid social and ethnic transformation had taken place during the 70’s, 80’s and the 90’s. The old buildings of Tatavla changed hands and jerry-built buildings have taken their place.

One of the unforgettable elements of the Tatavla’s history is “Baklahorani”. Baklahorani is the festival day the Greeks of İstanbul organise on the last Monday before the lent. It was a day when all the Greeks gathered, organised feasts and carnivals and got ready for the lent. Unfortunately, these festivals, which had continued until 1945, are no longer organised since the Greek population is at low ebb nowadays.

Kurtuluş behind the veil: The Churches
An other important aspect of Kurtuluş is that it is a district that shelters all the sects of Christianity. The diversification caused by the settlement of different religions and different sects to a small district takes its effects even now. Most of the Greeks being Orthodox, Kurtuluş lodges mostly the orthodox churches.

The Cathedral of the Holy Spirit is an important exception… Monsignor Hillerau the İstanbul Representative of Pope had the famous architect Gaspard Fossati built the cathedral in 1845. Another important feature is that the cathedral has an underground cemetery for the nuns and the believers of the Holy Spirit. No burial has taken place since 1927 in the cemetery which contains the grave of the famous musician of the palace, Guiseppe Donizetti.

Another important church of Kurtuluş is the Greek Orthodox Church of Agios Dimitiros. The church is situated at today’s Kurtuluş Square. There is a myth about this church in one of the everlasting legends of İstanbul. Rumour has it, when a small church in Kasımpaşa had been turned into a mosque after the conquest of İstanbul, the icon of Agios Dimitrios had been moved to the Saint Athanasios church on top of the hill, and the church was known as Agios Dimitrios from that time on.

According to the rest of the story; the icon had not only given its name to the church, but also the neighbourhood was called Saint Dimitrios or Saint Dimitry from time to time. The primary construction date of the church is unknown. It can be traced back to the 16th century in the travellers’ notes and in the city plans. The building which is open to service today has been saved by the repairs and annexes in 1726, 1782 and 1798. It is forbidden to take photos in the church. But you may visit the church if you wish to listen to the hymns and to have a spiritual journey with the smell of the incense.

Evangelistra Church is another Greek Orthodox Church in Kurtuluş. According to its epigraph, the church, completed in 1893, was built in place of an old wooden building in sixteen years. At the northwest of the church there stands the Holy Spring of Panayia Teotokos. This church, as all other churches dedicated to mother Mary, is full of icons depicting the affection and fidelity of a mother. Its interesting feature, however, is that, in front of the church, a flea market, where you may find lots of stuff, sets up from time to time. In this market, you may come across all kinds of stuff, from a book in French with its frayed and faded pages to a guitar with broken strings; from a mirror with worn out glazing to floor lamps that you cannot know their age…

One of the oldest Apartment Buildings of İstanbul; the Heyula

When the apartment building craze became widespread all around the world, an apartment had risen in Elmadağ. This apartment was preferred by the rich people of the period who were bored of the mansion life and who were somewhat trying to keep up with the trend of the times. As there was no concern for the panorama in those days as there is now, the rooms for the servants were at the top floor. Even staring at the Heyula Apartment, as magnificent as its name, makes you feel envious… Perhaps, the reason is that the apartment reflects the delicacy and classiness of the period it was built.

If you pass by Tarlabaşı…
If you pass by Tarlabaşı, please show some courage and step into its streets and discover what secrets Tarlabaşı conceals for all its unkempt appearance. Your discoveries will both amaze and excite you. For instance, do you know that the both Chaldeans and Melkites, who are disembarked nowadays, have churches here?

The Chealdean and Melkite (Saint Pantelemion) churches of the Catholic belief are striving to remain standing despite their diminished community and battered appearances.  Two other churches of Tarlabaşı, which belong to the other sects, are the Greek Orthodox “Saint Constation – Saint Helen Church” and the Protestant Armenian “Aynalı Çeşme” church. A female chaplain administers the Aynalı Çeşme church, a situation which we are unaccustomed to. Although its community is not so many in number, it is accepted as one of the most important parts of the district.

To be informed about the history of Tarlabaşı district we should get back to 1535. Tarlabaşı had started to be a residential area due to the settlement of ambassadors of the diplomatic missions, of the workers and servants of the Levantines and non-Muslims community of Beyoğlu. When we look close to our near-history we notice that, with its changing socio-cultural composition, Tarlabaşı is not a desirable settlement area. It is waiting for a bonny appearance as the old days through the “Urban Transformation Project”.

A Polish Poet in İstanbul; Adam Mickiewicz
Adam Mickiewicz, was sent to İstanbul in 1855, to organise the Polish troops who would fight in the Crimean War. But he died before accomplishing his mission due to an epidemic. The house Adam Mizkiewicz had once lived is at close quarters to Kasımpaşa. This house, in which he had lived for a while and had breathed his last, was turned into a museum in 1955. In this museum, the documents about his life and poems, his photos and busts are being exhibited. The basement floor of the building is organised as a symbolic grave for the poet, who was in fact buried at Krakow.

An Article by: Türkmen İşcan
In Istanbul issur 8

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 |  CATEGORIES: Bosphorus, Historical Landmark, Scenic & Park & Sightseeing, Whereist Ottoman Baroque Neo-Baroque

Beylerbeyi Palace / Beylerbeyi - Istanbul


Opening Times
Open to Public Everyday except on Mondays and Thursdays between; 01 October – 28 February 09:30 – 16:00 / 01 March – 30 September 09:30 – 17:00

Estimated Visit Duration : 30 Min. Palace is only visited by guided tours.

Cafe (Located in the garden of the Palace), Parking (Located at the entrance of the Palace), Toilettes (Located at the garden of the Palaces)

The Beylerbeyi Palace is located along the Anatolian coast of the Bosphorus at Beylerbeyi, north of Ьskьdar.


On this imperial coastal estate that rests on the woody Çamlıca hills, a Byzantine settlement is known to have existed as early as the sixth century when Emperor Constantine II (578-582) erected a church with a golden cross (stavros) that gave the area its name. The terraced gardens at Istavroz, known as Istavroz Bahçesi, were a popular resort area for the royal family. The Sevkabad Pavilion, built by Ahmed III (1603-1617) atop the hill, was used frequently by his successors Murad IV (1623-1640) and Mehmed IV (1648-1687) who came to hunt here.

Restored and enlarged by Ahmed III (1703-1730) and Mahmud I (1730-1754), the garden complex consisted of tiled and domed pavilions around a pool, baths, prayer rooms and service structures. Ottoman dignitaries also built mansions here. The name Beylerbeyi, which was not adopted until later, is thought to refer to Mehmed Paşa, the governor-general (Beylerbeyi) of the Rumelian provinces, who built his coastal complex here during the rule of Murad III (1574-1595).

Mustafa III (1757-1774) demolished the estate and sold off its lands. These lands were subsequently acquired by Mahmud I (1808-1839) to erect a summer palace at the Istavroz Gardens. The Yellow Palace, designed by royal architect Krikor Amira Balyan, was completed between 1829 and 1832 and consisted of a main building with administrative and harem sections, kiosks, servants quarters, baths, kitchens, cisterns and stables. This wooden palace, praised in the well-known travelers’ accounts by Fieldmarshal Helmuth von Moltke and Miss Julie Pardoe, succumbed to fire in 1851 and its site was abandoned until 1864 when Sultan Abdülaziz (1861-1876) ordered the construction of a fireproof masonry palace.

The area of Beylerbeyi on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus has been settled since Byzantine times. According to the famous 18th century traveler İnciciyan, Constantine the Great erected a cross here, after which the area was known as the Istavroz Gardens. Under the Ottomans this area was an imperial park or “hasbahзe”. İnciciyan relates that the name Beylerbeyi was given to this area in the 16th century because Mehmed Paşa who held the title of beylerbeyi (governor general) built a country house on the site.

The palace was generally reserved for summer use by the sultans or to accommodate foreign heads of state visiting the Ottoman capital. The Prince of Serbia, the King of Montenegro, the Şah of Iran and Empress Eugenie of France are among the royal guests who stayed here. The deposed Sultan Abdülhamid II spent the last six months of his life and died here in 1918.


The new summer palace, called Beylerbeyi, is designed by head architect Sarkis Balyan (1835-1899) and his brother Agop Balyan (1838-1875) in French neo-baroque style with a traditional Ottoman plan. It has a rectangular plan with the long side facing the water and consists of six halls and twenty-four rooms on two floors raised on a service basement. The six halls, three on each floor, are lined up along the longitudinal axis from southwest to northeast.

Round cascading steps in front of the mabeyn lead into the entrance hall (giriş holü), which has a double set of stairs at its rear end that give access to the reception hall above. Both halls are lit with iwans facing the mabeyn gardens to the southwest. The reception hall, also known as the Hall with Mother-of-Pearl, is adjoined by an audience room with luxurious wood paneling known as the Wooden Room (Ahşap Oda) on the seaside and a dining room on the landward side.

A corridor to the left of the mabeyn entrance hall leads into the Hall with Pool (Havuzlu Salon), named after a large oval pool at its center. The Hall with Pool, together with the Blue Hall (Mavi Salon) above it, occupies the center of the building, linking mabeyn with harem. Facing both the sea in front and the land wall behind, the two halls are linked by a double staircase with a skylight on the harem side. The Blue Hall, which is also known as the Ceremonial Hall, is named after its sixteen blue columns with orientalist capitals separating the central space from its iwans and aisles. Its roof is raised on sixteen arched windows that illuminate the hall from above.

Hall with Pool and some of its corner rooms, as well as some rooms adjoining the Blue Hall have naval scenes painted on their ceilings featuring Ottoman ships; the Admiral Room (Kaptan Paşa Odası) on the ground floor also has furnishings based on the naval theme. Much of the furniture used in the palace was brought from Europe, including crystal chandeliers from Bohemia and vases from Sevres; a wide collection of Chinese and Japanese vases is also displayed in the palace.

The interior decoration, guided by painter Migirdic Civanyan, reflects nineteenth century Ottoman eclecticism, which is a creative amalgam of Western neo-classical styles and traditional Ottoman elements such as the muqarnas, Bursa arch, interlaced arabesques and calligraphic forms. The floors, where not paved with parquet, are covered with straw mats from Egypt over which Hereke carpets are laid. The palace was illuminated by gasworks while no provisions were made for heating during the colder months.

Corridors from the two central halls lead into the living quarters or the harem, which is smaller than the mabeyn and simpler in decoration. It consists of rooms clustered around two small halls, the entrance hall and a central hall above, that are linked with a double-staircase. Some of the rooms appear today as Abdьlhamid II (1876-1908) used them while under house arrest from 1912 until his death in 1918, with furniture bearing his monogram or initials. Empress Eugenie of France (1853-1870), during her visit to Istanbul in 1869, stayed at the Beylerbeyi harem; Emperor Joseph of Austro-Hungary, Shah Nasireddin of Iran, Prince Nicholas of Montenegro and Crown Prince Oscar of Sweden were also hosted at this palace.

The gardens and kiosks A wall close to human height separates the palace and its gardens from the quay. Two sea gates rise above the walls near the mabeyn and harem entrances. Further out, located midway into the garden on each side is a small sea kiosk (Yalı Köşkü) with a tent-like roof. The kiosks are entered from the gardens through a portico and make octagonal projections onto the quay. Behind, the palace and its gardens are protected by a tall land wall, which becomes a retaining wall for terraced gardens behind the mabeyn.

Of the two gates that serve the palace on the landward side, one opens into a tunnel built earlier by Mahmud I that, passing underneath the garden terrace, exits out to the southwest end of the mabeyn gardens. Here, a ramp climbs alongside a tall wall separating the palace from the service and military structures and gives access to the first, second and third terraces to the left and the stables midway to the right.

The garden terraces were originally built by Mahmud II in 1830. The five main terraces of varied width are divided into seven different levels in places and rise up to 35 meters above sea level. The forth terrace has a large pool overlooked by the Serdab and Sarı Kiosks, the pool and the Serdab Kiosk were built by Mahmud II. Stairs and ramps, as seen today, were added by Sultan Abdülaziz who also reorganized the gardens in naturalist style.

The Serdab or sunken kiosk (Serdab Köşkü), also known as marble kiosk (Mermer Köşk), is a three-room marble structure partially buried into the retaining wall of the terrace above. With views out to the pool in front and the Bosphorus beyond, the kiosk is designed to provide solace from the summer heat; a central fountain, linked with channels to two wall fountains at either end of the main room, humidifies and cools the marble interior. Located at the same level to the east of the pool is the Sari or yellow kiosk, a two-story structure with a basement, oriented to views of the lower Bosphorus and the Çamlıca hills above.

The stables (Ahır Köşkü), the only remaining equestrian structure in an Ottoman palace, is a long rectangular building with an octagonal entrance hall projecting outward at the center. Entered through a broad pair of glass doors, the entrance hall leads into the brick-paved main space with a small marble pool and twenty stalls. Paintings of horses decorate the ceilings of the kiosk entrance hall whose arched windows resemble horseshoes.

Many of the palace service structures, such as the kitchens, have not survived. Sections of the larger gardens, including the deer woods, were given to nearby schools while some small structures once found in the gardens have not survived: the Sultan’s or Hünkar Kiosk (Hünkar Köşkü), the music pavilion (Muzika Dairesi), the deer house (Geyiklik), the lion house (Aslanhane), the dove cote (Güvercinlik) and the bird pavilion (Büyük Kuşluk). The palace baths up the hill have been demolished to make way for road expansion.

Today, the remaining palace buildings stand in the shadow of the cross-continental Bosphorus Bridge built in 1974; the supports for the colossal suspension bridge are situated immediately below the stables. The palace complex is flanked by the dormitories of the guards (Hamlacılar Kışlası) and the military barracks and soup kitchens built by Abdülhamid I (1774-1789) down the Bosphorus, and an old residential neighborhood is found to its north.

State functions are held in the state apartments (or mabeyn) entered from the southwest, whereas the two halls to the northeast with their surrounding rooms constitute the living quarters or harem, entered from the opposite end of the palace. Both sections are preceded by shady gardens with pine, red-leaf beech, and magnolia trees planted around large oval pools. Although a uniform and symmetrical look has been maintained for the waterfront, a tall wall is used to separate the two gardens behind the palace.

The interior design of Beylerbeyi Palace is a synthesis of diverse western and eastern styles, although the layout of the rooms follows that of the traditional Turkish house, consisting of a central sofa with closed rooms situated at the four corners. The furnishing and decoration of the Selamlık or public apartments are more ornate than those of the Harem.

The palace consists of two main storeys and a basement containing kitchens and store rooms. The palace has three entrances, six state rooms and 26 smaller rooms. The floors are covered with rush matting from Egypt which protected the inhabitants against damp in winter and heat in summer. Over this are laid large carpets and kilims, mostly made at Hereke. The furnishings include exquisite Bohemian crystal chandeliers, French clocks, and Chinese, Japanese, French and Turkish Yıldız porcelain vases.

One of the features which distinguishes Beylerbeyi from other Ottoman palaces of the period are the terraced gardens on the sloping hillside behind the palace. There are two pavilions on these terraces, the Sarı Köşk beside the pool on the upper terrace, and the Mermer Köşk with its interior fountain and marble walls, which provided a cool refuge in the summer heat. The Mermer Köşk, the large pool on the lower terrace and the tunnel are the only parts of the palace remaining from the earlier timber palace of Beylerbeyi. The attractive Ahır Köşk is a fascinating example of Ottoman palace stables, and of particular interest as the only such building to have survived in its original state.

The old coastal road passed under a long tunnel constructed during the reign of Mahmud II (1808-1839) so that the palace would not be separated from the terraced gardens behind. This is a unique feature, other palaces and mansions along the Bosphorus being connected to their back gardens and parks by bridges. Today this tunnel houses a cafeteria and sales points for visitors. As well as books, postcards and posters published by the Culture and Information Centre, various gifts and souvenirs are on sale here. The gardens are available for private receptions upon advance application.

MORE INFO by Beylerbeyi Palace

These scripts and photographs are registered under Copyright 2009, Beylerbeyi Palace / Beylerbeyi – Istanbul – Turkey. All Rights Reserved.!3E86C71118DDDCE5!3953.entry

Beylerbeyi Palace is located in the Anatolian side of the Boshporus, in the
province having the same name with the palace. The palace, making up
a complex with the palace in the yard and the surrounding buildings, was
commissioned by Sultan Abdulaziz to architect brothers Sarkis and Agop
Balyan in 1864.

The palace comprises of the Beylerbeyi Palace as the main structure, sea
mansions, one of which is women hall and the other is progression hall,
located in the sea front walls of the palace, Marble Mansion, Yellow Palace
and Hasah›r in the backyard. While the sea mansions and Beylerbeyi Palace
were commisioned by Sultan Abdulaziz, the other buildings are known to be
a part of the palace once located on this spot.
Beylerbeyi Palace, the main unit of the palace complex, is a two-storey stone
building built above a high cellar. The length of the palace, which is built
in parallel to the Boshporus, is 65 meters. There are 6 saloons and 24 rooms
in the palace which has staircase access from three sides. Especially Fountain
Saloon and Blue Saloon which have their name from the color of their columns
on the upper floor are the most impressive places of the palace. Also its garden,
arranged in sets, is another feature of the palace.
Address: Abdullahaga Road. 81210 Beylerbeyi-Istanbul
Phone: +90 216 321 93 20-321 95 51

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Archaeological Museum

This complex was build by the end of 19th century by the architect Vallaury thanks to great efforts of famous Turkish painter Osman Hamdi Bey. It includes the exquisite Tiled Kiosk and the Museum of the Ancient Orient and houses a large collection of artifacts and works of art belonging to ancient Greek, Roman and other Anatolian civilizations dating back to the 6th century BC. The Sarcophagus of Alexander the Great, Sarcophagus of Mourning Ladies, and other ancient sarcophagi and various objects found in the Sidon excavation are among its most interesting pieces.

Ancient Eastern Archeological Museum was designed and open to service in 1917 by Halil Eldem Bey. The collection on displays comprised of about 15000 archeological pieces of Ancient Mesopotamia, Pre-Greek Anatolia, Assyrian, Sumerian, Acadian, Babylonian, Ancient Egyptian and Pre-Islamic Arabic culture.

Open daily between 09:30-16:30 except Mondays.
Tel: (212) 520 77 40 and 41

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 |  CATEGORIES: Cultural & Museums

The building today known as the Horse Mansion on the Bosphorus was built in the 19th century and belonged to Sabanci family for many years. Just before the death of Sakip Sabanci the mansion was converted into a museum and opened to the public with its antique furnishings and art collections. Today the Museum’s collection of precious manuscripts and extensive collection of 19th and 20th century paintings are on permanent exhibition in the rooms of the original house and gallery annex. From time to time, it is also hosting great exhibitions of international artists such as Pablo Picasso, Rodin etc.

Open daily between 10:00-18:00 except Mondays.
Tel: (212) 277 22 00

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 |  CATEGORIES: Cultural & Museums, Whereist Sultanahmet

The exhibits here amount to little more than a wall of portraits, a waxwork bust and some yellowing imperial decrees, all housed in a small wooden hut that’s easily mistaken for a public toilet.

The Tanzimat Museum(Tanzimat means the Period of Reforms) was first opened to the public in the Ihlamur Summer Mansion in 1952. In 1969, the museum’s collection was exhibited there until it was moved to the  another location called “the Çadır Mansion,” in Yıldız Park. After the mansion was left for usage of the Touring and Automobile Club of Turkey (TURING), the historical collection of the museum was moved to the new museum building, which is situated in Gülhane Park in 1983 and it is still exhibiting in this museum.

On exhibit in the museum are the Tanzimat Firman (1839), one of the most significant documents in paving the way to the westernization of the Ottoman Empire, signed pictures of leading statesmen of the day, and engravings and paintings. Moreover, personal objects which belonged to Mustafa Reşid Paşa, Sadık Muhtar Bey, and Ziya Paşa, all leading statesmen during the Tanzimat reform movement, are on display in the museum.

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 |  CATEGORIES: Cultural & Museums, Whereist Driving Scenic Tour

The Asiyan Museum is a three storey house previously owned by Tevfik Fikret , a famous Turkish poet who lived there between 1906–1915. On the initiative of Lütfi Kırdar, both the mayor and governer of Istanbul during that period, it was  purchased from his widow, Nazime Hanim, and publicised by the city in 1940 and began its services as a museum under the name Edebiyat-ı Cedide Museum in 1945.

asiyanThe ground floor of the museum is used for administrative affairs. On the above floor, there is a room dedicated to the poet, Nigar Hanim, where her personal belongings, such as photos and paintings are on exhibit. There is a room called the “Edebiyat-ı Cedide Room,” in which the personal belongings and documents that belonged to the authors of Edebiyat-ı Cedide. It is also the  Hall of Abdülhak Hamit, and his belongings and documents are displayed there. Abdülhak Hamit is also famous for his poem, Makber, meaning The Grave. As for the next floor, there is a bedroom in which his personal belongings and the bed on which he passed away are found. Next to his seat and worktable, there is a work hall, in which he wrote poems and other writings and in which are found his personal affairs and paintings.

In 1961, the Museum (Edebiyat-ı Cedide Museum) was renamed as the Aşiyan Museum and is one of the museums operated by Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. It is also one an important place to be visited for lovers of literature.

Istanbul’s Asiyan Museum was established in the house of the renowned poet, Tevfik Fikret. It was purchased by the city in 1940 with the aim of establishing a literary museum. The poet’s remains were reinterred on the museum’s grounds in 1961. On the ground floor, one can see photos pertaining to the literary movement Edebiyat-i; Cedide, the personal effects and library of Nigar Hanim, one of the first Turkish woman poets, memorabilia of the poet Abdülhak Hamit Tarhan and two oil paintings by the last Caliph Abdülmecid. The upper floor is devoted to artwork and memorabilia concerning Tevfik Fikret himself.

The wooden mansion overlooking the Bosphorus was built by the poet’s own hands. On display are many of the poet’s several possessions as well as a painting “Sis” (Fog) by Abdülmecid, who was inspired by Tevfik Fikret’s poem of that name.

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