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CENGELKOY
2001 / MAY
Cengelkoy is a picturesque district on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus between Beylerbeyi and Vanikoy. Its history can be traced back to Byzantine times, when Theodora, wife of the Emperor Justinian, founded the Metonaia Convent in this forested area. The name Metonaia means repentance in ancient Greek, and if the story is true, the empress cloistered repentant prostitutes here.
Cengelkoy was a largely Greek settlement following the Turkish conquest of Istanbul, although in time some Muslim Turks made their home here. The oldest mosque, Haci Omer Mosque, is said to date from the reign of Mehmed the Conqueror (1451-1481), and around the same time a royal park was established here. In the 17th century the Ottoman writer Evliya Celebi says that words are incapable of describing the beautiful avenues between orchards and gardens behind the village, and after remarking that the community is mainly Greek with just a few Muslims, goes on to tell us that the royal park is as magnificent as the mythical Garden of Irem
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CENGELKOY
2001 / MAY
The village, he explains, is 'prosperous, attractive, and charming, a lodge of beloved women.' He records that it contains 3060 two-storey houses constructed of stone. Celebi's estimate of the number of houses seems to have been exaggerated, as a 19th century census put the number of houses at just 650. If we compare his figures for the other towns and villages along the Bosphorus, we find that Cengelkoy was the largest on the Asian shore after Uskudar.

The royal estate mentioned by Evliya Celebi was a favourite resort of Sultan Murad IV (1623-1640), and Mehmed IV (1648-1687) used to come here in early summer for the cherry season. To supply sufficient cherries for the royal party to pluck from the branches, the crops from all the cherry trees in the area were purchased. In 1676 the same sultan purchased a country house set in a 8000 square metre garden, and a three hectare vineyard from a wealthy Jew of Cengelkoy named Kupelioglu Salamon.
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CENGELKOY
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Early in the 18th century Hatice Sultan, daughter of Ahmed III, had a waterfront mansion in Cengelkoy which stood next to the landing stage used by the large rowing boats known as kayiks which transported people to and from the city. Hatice Sultan, who died at the young age of 29, was mother of the famous chronicler Suleyman Izzi Efendi. Kaymak Mustafa Pasa, son-in-law of the famous grand vezir to Ahmed III, Damat ibrahim Pasa, also had a waterfront mansion called Ferahâbad here. Both men were murdered in the Patrona Rebellion. The records of the bostancibasi, head of the organisation which policed the Bosphorus, provide us with detailed information about the settlements along the Bosphorus between 1750 and 1825, revealing that many Ottoman Armenians settled in Cengelkoy during this period.

One of the surviving waterfront mansions in Cengelkoy is that of Abdullah Pasa, the son of a Cengelkoy boatman named Safranbolulu Ali Aga.
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CENGELKOY
2001 / MAY
Abdullah Pasa entered the palace service at young age and rose to become grand vezir. A notable Cengelkoy family were the Koceoglus, who made their fortune trading in cashmere shawls before Agop Koceoglu and his son Kirkor became famous bankers, managing the financial affairs of the leading figures of the time. As well as a waterfront mansion, the family owned a large farm and country house on the hillside above the village. This house was later purchased by Sultan Abdulaziz (1861-1876), and some time afterwards became the property of his nephew Vahideddin, who was to reign as Mehmed VI, the last Ottoman sultan, between 1918 and 1922. Sultan Abdulmecid (1839-1861) also liked to visit Cengelkoy.

The magnificent waterfront house known today as Sadullah Pasa House dates from the early 19th century.
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CENGELKOY
2001 / MAY
Its first owner was grand vezir Koca Yusuf Pasa, and the house was inherited by his daughter Emine Hanim, who married High Admiral Seydi Ali Pasa. Their son Hamid Pasa was a spendthrift, and when the sultan pardoned his sentence of exile celebrated by treating the entire population of Cengelkoy to a feast and illuminating the hills around with lanterns. Mahmud II (1808-1839) had a fright when he saw the blaze of light from his palace in Besiktas, thinking that Cengelkoy was in flames.


Eventually the extravagant Hamid Pasha sold the mansion to Ayasli Esat Muhlis Pasa, and it was inherited by his son Sadullah Pasa, a diplomat and noted literary figure.
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CENGELKOY
2001 / MAY
Sultan Abdulhamid II (1876-1909) wished for some reason to keep Sadullah Pasa out of the way, and having appointed him ambassador to Vienna, refused to let him return to Istanbul despite all his pleas. Finally, in despair, Sadullah Pasa committed suicide. His wife Necibe Hanim was crazed by grief, and every day put on the pink dress which had been her husbnd'se favourite to wait for his return. A moving poem by Turgut Uyar, entitled 'Iffet Hanim, a Woman of Virtue', might have been written for her: 'My lamb, when did you die? / My pasa, for the love of God when?'

So that is the story of Cengelkoy, beginning with the Empress Theodora and ending with the unfortunate Necibe Hanim.
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CENGELKOY
2001 / MAY

I leave off my account here. There is no need to draw it out further. But Cengelkoy is there to see, still charming, and still with its vendors of those tiny delicious cucumbers for which it is so famous, although these are no longer grown in its own market gardens.

 

 

 

* Erol Uyepazarci is the author of several books

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