Ortaköy

ortakoy_istanbul
Ortaköy, now a central district of İstanbul, was once a fishing village situated well beyond the city walls. This charming area has its own very long history (called Arkheion in antiquity) and a tradition of cosmopolitanism that included a mix of ethnic groups and religions.

The old square is located right behind the ferry boat dock and is framed by the minarets of the beautiful Ortaköy Mosque built through the patronage of Sultan Abdulmecid, a sultan who favored this village and did much to beautify it.

He also had a bridge built here (a bridge that no longer exists) and had the marble- columned police station built.

Another important landmark in the square is the Fountain of İbrahim Pasha (the “Son- in-Law) that was constructed in 1723. The church crowning the rear of the square is the Greek Orthodox Ayios Fokas Church and was built in 1856. This church carries the name of a former monastery dating to the Byzantine era that used to stand here. Further along the square one comes to a Jewish synagogue that has long played a major role in the lives of the Jewish populations living in the area. This square then was a meeting place for the three major religions of the Ottoman Empire and continues to draw people of the modern Republic.

As the city grew Ortaköy’s wealthier inhabitants began to move to newer and more up-scale areas, but it was “rediscovered” in the mid 1980s when the natural beauty of the area attracted artisans and artists who added their own unique murals to weathered walls, opened studios, and then small cafes and bars. İn 1992 the city completed a clean-up of the square, closing the square to traffic and creating cobbled pedestrian passages. Today the square attracts Istanbullites of all ages as they come here to meet with friends at one of the many outdoor cafes or just to read a paper, drink a “chai,” a tea, and enjoy watching the waves washing against the shore.

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