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Overlooking the blue Bosphorus KANDILLI
2002 / September

There are some districts of Istanbul which conjure up a single image in your mind when they are mentioned. However many new memories and images might be superimposed upon it in the course of time, that first image remains the most treasured. For a reason which I can no longer remember, Kandilli for me always begins with an image of Kandilli Girls High School as portrayed in a novel by Kerime Nadir. This is a rosy coloured dream school, where lively young girls savour the joys of romance for the first time. A steep hill leads up to the real school, and at every bend the view becomes more spectacular. Your heartbeat steadily increases from the exertion of the upward haul until finally you reach the top. Here it is not the hill but the vista which is breathtaking.

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Overlooking the blue Bosphorus KANDILLI
2002 / September

The poet Cemal Süreya's first romance flowered in Kandilli, and he wrote this poem to his beloved Seniha: 'You are a woman as large as a hand / White and eyelashed till morning / Neighbour to some trees / Some flowers remind me of you.' With its outstandingly beautiful scenery Kandilli has always enchanted writers and artists. The poet Özdemir Asaf wrote, 'Houses trail into the sea for a dream / Houses look at us, look at the sea,' and just as he described, land and sea mingle into one in Kandilli. This district stands at the narrowest point of the Bosphorus on the Anatolian shore, facing Bebek Bay on the European shore. Between Küçüksu and Kandilli headland are many fine waterfront houses known as yalı. Kibrisli Yali, for example, with its broad facade, wooden columns, cupola and ceilings painted with murals is definitely worth a visit. The lives of its past occupants are proof that fact is as interesting as fiction. The yali was originally built by Kibrisli Mehmet Emin Pasa, from whom it was inherited by Tevfik Bey, who lost his life in the government coup of 1913.

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Overlooking the blue Bosphorus KANDILLI
2002 / September
His brother Şevket was a close friend of the poet Yahya Kemal, who often used to stay in the house, and was enamoured of the beautiful Belkis Hanım who lived in the nearby wooden Abud Efendi Yali. It may be to her that Yahya Kemal wrote, 'We went for an excursion from Kandilli to Çubuklu / We are in a caique whose only sound is the oars / Are we passing time pleasantly today? / I suspect that time is passing us by.' Another notable yali in Kandilli is Kont Ostrorog Yali, today home of Turkish industrialist Rahmi Koç. This splendid red ochre house originally belonged to Count Ostrorog, a Polish aristocrat who became an Ottoman citizen. French novelist Pierre Loti is said to have frequently stayed here.
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Overlooking the blue Bosphorus KANDILLI
2002 / September

Since Kandilli headland obstructs the main north-south current of the Bosphorus, the water off Kandilli is always rough with fast currents and eddies. For this reason the headland is better known as Akinti Burnu (Current Point) today, while in antiquity it was called Echia, and in Byzantine times Prookhtoi, in reference to its steep hills. Travelers over the centuries have recorded various names for Kandilli itself. Anton Dethier says it was called Perriron, a word meaning dangerous, due to the fierce currents. The 16th century Pierre Gilles and 17th century Joseph Pitton de Tournefort recorded the names Moltorino and Bosforus Nikopolis respectively. The story told about the origin of the name Kandilli, which means 'Place of Lamps', is that lanterns were lit here to warn ships at night.

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Overlooking the blue Bosphorus KANDILLI
2002 / September
Until the 18th century there was no settlement but only a beautiful garden belonging to the sultans known as Kandilli Garden. Of this garden Evliya Çelebi wrote in the 17th century, 'The Royal Garden of Kandilli south of the Göksu river is an earthly paradise established by Murad III.' The garden with its teraces, pavilions, fountains, and air filled with the scent of hyacinths and tulips, has long since disappeared, but Kandilli itself is like a garden against the backdrop of the gleaming blue Bosphorus. Walking down to the little cobbled square at the quay, I thought of the old ferryboats whose captains used to wave to the inhabitants of the yalis as they passed. In the square is the fountain of Mahmud I, and on either side two fish restaurants where cheerful customers enjoy squid and turbot in the gentle breeze beneath the plane trees. From the square I wandered along Siraevler Street, lined by freshly painted wooden houses and flower filled gardens, where people were lounging on reclining chairs and children played.
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Overlooking the blue Bosphorus KANDILLI
2002 / September
 

As evening closed in, the lights on the opposite shore shone across the dark water. My greetings to Bebek, but I am quite content in Kandilli.

* Aycan Saroglu is a freelance writer.

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