Fatih Istanbul



Fatih, by combining Eminonu and Fatih districts which are inside the City Walls, is converted into one district.

Today, Eminonu as being connected with Fatih, became a district when Istanbul Central District was divided into two parts in 1928 whereas Fatih was a branch located in Istanbul Central District. With the adjustment made in the year 1984 on March, Istanbul is transformed into Metropolitan Municipality and Fatih was positioned as a Provincial Municipality belonging to Metropolitan Municipality. But according to the law number 5757 which effectuated on March 29, 2009, the two districts of the Historic Peninsula is transformed into one district under the name of “Fatih”.

The Historic Peninsula which Fatih is located in the area as we call “City Walls”, being neighbor to Eyup District on the North, the Golden Horn on the Northeast, Marmara on the South, Zeytinburnu on the West and Bayrampasa District on the Northwest. Fatih District consists of 57 quarters.

Surrounding the whole parts of the Historic Peninsula, Fatih takes his name after the Ottoman Emperor who conquered Istanbul in the year 1453. Fatih became a typical Ottoman- Turkish city that grew fast around the Fatih Mosque which was built on the fourth hill of Istanbul after the conquest under the command of Sultan II. Mehmed Khan.

Being the center for the best examples of Ottoman-Turkish lifestyle and architecture such as the frame houses, mosques and Muslim theological schools, Ottoman elementary-primary schools and fountains which survived until today, besides this mystical ambiance Fatih also embodies unique works of important civilizations such as Byzantine and Rome. Due to these qualities, Fatih is so- called as “The First Istanbul” or “Real Istanbul”. In addition to being one of the most important centers of Roman Empire, The Historic Peninsula Fatih was the capital city of Byzantine for 1058 years and 469 years for Ottoman Empire. Due to this quality, it is possible to see very significant works of these three important civilizations together in The Historic Peninsula.

However, the history of the district has gone back 8500 years by the archeological findings which are found during the works of Marmaray Project in Yenikapi. These findings which will cause to rewrite the known World history, has increased Fatih’s importance more on historical and cultural angle.

Geographical Position and Qualities

The Historic Peninsula is the most significant urban area where has a major role in Istanbul’s taking one step forward on the World scale and has an active role on the formation of the City’s Identity by the intense existence of the cultural background mentioned. The Historic Peninsula (The City Walls) covers an area of 1562 hectares. Fatih is located between 41 °02‘ North latitudes and 28°55’34 East longitudes.

Fatih, is neighbour to Eyup district on the North, the Golden horn on the Northeast, the Marmara Sea on the South, Zeytinburnu on the West and Bayrampasa district on the Northwest. From North to South and Southeast, lines up the districts of Ayvansaray, Balat, Yavuz Sultan Selim, Cibali, Yavuz Sinan, Sari Demir, Rustem Pasa, Hobyar and Hocapasa. On the East, Cankurtaran in Sarayburnu (East end), at the waterfronts of Marmara Sea Sultanahmet, Kuguk Ayasofya, Sehsuvarbey, MuhsineHatun, Nisanca, KatipKasim, Aksaray, Cerrahpasa, Kocamustafapasa, Yedikule quarters are located. Fatih Distrcit, surrounded by Sumbulefendi, Silivrikapi, Mevlanakapi, Topkapi, Karagumruk and Dervis Ali quarters, consists of 57 quarters. Its meter above sea level is 60m. It has no land for agriculture.

The Historic Peninsula is built on 7 hills. The seven hills of Istanbul, which has been subject to poems, are located in the borders of Fatih.

  • The hill where Topkapi Palace, Saint Sophia and Blue Mosque are located.
  • The hill where Cemberlitas and Nuruosmaniye Mosque are located.
  • The hill where Beyazit Mosque, the University and Suleymaniye are located.
  • The hill where Fatih Mosque is located.
  • The hill where Yavuz Selim Mosque is located.
  • The hill where Mihrimah Sultan Mosque in Edirnekapi quarter is located.
  • The hill where Kocamustafapasa quarter is located.

The City Walls which line up from Goldenhorn Ayvansaray to Yedikule are restored and separates Fatih from Eyup and Zeytinburnu districts. The Sea Walls at the shores of Goldenhorn and Marmara Sea could not survive until today due to the damages.

The 3 arterial highways that provides Istanbul’s tranportation, passes through Fatih County. These are; Macar Kardesler and Fevzi Pasa Streets which lies from Sarachane through Edirnekapi, Vatan Street which connects Aksaray with Topkapi and Millet Street which again connects Aksaray with Topkapi. Millet Street unites with Ordu Street and reaches to Eminonu district. From the District’s Marmara alongshore, there passes a coastal road which connects Sirkeci to Bakirkoy (Kennedy Street). The railroad which unites Istanbul to Europe and provides the suburban transportation of west coast lies parallel to this street. There is also tramline transportation possibility to Karakoy, Ataturk Airport, Yenibosna and Esenler Bus Terminal.

In 1950, population of Fatih District (except Eminonu) was 226.853 and in the year 2000 it had been 403.508. The growth in population in the county continued until 1975 and began to decrease after this date. In the year 1975, Fatih’s population was 504.127 and in the year 2000, population was 403.508. According to the enumeration done with the Address-based Population Registration System, Fatih’s 2008 population (including Eminonu) is 443.955.

The History of Fatih District

Fatih District is one of the most famous and symbolic settlements of Turkish period.

The important palaces of Constantinus period and after period are centred around this location because of its being a settlement that views both Goldenhorn and Marmara. After the conquest of Istanbul in the year 1453, Fatih Sultan Mehmet (Mehmet The Conqueror) had Fatih Mosque built as the first structure. In time, new structures are built around Fatih Mosque and by this, core region of the district came into existence. The County was called “Fatih” after Fatih Mosque was built.

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During the crusade in 1204, Istanbul was vandalized by Latins. After this, the city was in a devastated shape also because of the earthquake that happened later. As a matter of fact, Fatih Sultan Mehmet (Mehmet The Conqueror) immediately began construction and repair projects for the city which was ruined. In the meantime, Aksemsettin, Molla Gurani, Molla Husrev and Molla Zeyrek applied for the construction of a muslim-theological school around Saint Sophia and for the students accommodated in Pantokrator (Zeyrek). Fatih couldn’t resist and commanded for the construction of a large mosque and a building estate called as Sahn-i Seman (Octal Muslim theological school). These artifacts which are completed 17 years later, played an important role in district’s development. After the conquest, following the construction of Eyup Imaret, the foundation of Fatih social complex which became a large social and cultural activity center (1463- 1470), constructions of Sarachane Bazaar where saddlers and blacksmiths worked and Janissary rooms caused new districts to develop. Fatih social complex is the first ring of large social complexes chain which gives the characteristic appearance of Turkish period. With its approximately thousand employees and the bazaars around it, this social complex has created a center of gravity for the City’s next periods’ development effectively. Unlike the Byzantine period, Istanbul’s Trakya exit came to Edirnekapi, religious and social functional structures built after the conquest are centered around Goldenhorn hillsides and one third of the City Wall population settled in the triangle of Edirnekapi, Sultan Selim and Fatih.

In the late 15th century and the early 16th century, Atik Ali Pasa Mosque was built on the Edirnekapi Road. In Edirnekapi, during the construction of Mihrimah Sultan Social Complex, building of shops under the mosque’s courtyard is an evidential reasoning for an on-going shopping axis was developed from Saraghane to Edirnekapi. One third of prayer rooms and mosques built in the 16th century are located in this region. Again in 16th century, customs was established inside the City Wall part of Edirne Road, between Fatih and Edirnekapi. There were mansions of statesmen and ulemas around Fatih Mosque like Suleymaniye. As a matter of fact Nicolai, mentioned in his observations referring to Fatih Social Complex that imams and ulemas were living around the mosque and 200 domed houses for guests in every nationality and religion. (Here, he must have meant the Muslim theological school, tab- house and the hostel). However, it is also mentioned that there are 150 houses outside the social complex. It can be said that these might be shelters of people who take food every day from imaret. It is known that Social Complex is a large social programme from Fatih endowment. Sanderson records that the annual finance assigned for this Social Complex at the end of 16th century is 200.000 ducats. This wealth of Imaret, explains the reason of the intense settlement in Fatih during the first 200 years. Fatih Mosque’s 4 hectare-sized outer courtyard so-called Fatih Square, between the Muslim theological schools, open to various activities and its sides surrounded by a well- organized architecture, is the second biggest city field after the Hippodrome. Besides the 300 students studying here in the Muslim theological schools, as Evliya Çelebi said, “Wealthy and intellectual people were not lacking”. The bazaars around it, were the places where Muslims overcrowded the mosques during payer times. It is apparent that many events enlivening the citizen’s life and a rich social commerce was happening in the mosque’s courtyard.

The structures like Iskender Pasa Mosque, Mesih Mehmed Pasa Mosque which is on the hillsides of Bayrampasa valley that lies through Edirnekapi, Nisanci Mehmed Pasa Mosque in Çarsamba which are built in 16th century, have enriched the monumental environment of the district. In the 17th century, educational structures like Ankaravi Mehmed Efendi Muslim Theological school, Gazanfer Aga Muslim Theological school near Bozdogan Arch, Amcazade Huseyin Pasa Muslim Theological school in Sarachane, Feyzullah Efendi Theological School on the opposite corner of Fatih Social Complex are added and by this way, Fatih preserved the important status of the capital city’s social and cultural life.

Amongst the set of artifacts (social complexes) Fatih commanded to be done, there were mosques, theological schools, hospitals, hostels, imarets, public baths, caravansarais, schools, libraries and tombs (Fatih Sultan Mehmet Tomb, Gulbahar Hatun Tomb, Naksidil Tomb). In time, people coming from various places of Anatolia and Rumelia had been accommodated in Istanbul. In the meantime, people brought from Yenisehir were accommodated toYenikapi, people from Konya Aksaray to Aksaray, people from Albania to Silivrikapi, Armenians to Langa and Kumkapi, people from Egri to Egrikapi, people from Karaman to Karaman, people from Tiri to Vefa, people from Skopje to Cibali, people from Bursa mostly to Eyup, people from Kastamonu to Kazanci, young people specifically chosen from Trabzon to Fener, Akka, Gaza and Remli Arabs to Tahtakale, Christian Karamani Turks to Yedikule nearby, People from Gallipoli to Shipyard nearby people from izmir to Buyukgalata quarter Muslim Karamani Turks to Buyukkaraman, peo Konya to Kucukkaraman, immigrants from Sinop and Samsun to Tophane, people from Manisa to Macuncu quarter, people from Qarsamba were accommodated to Carsamba. By this way, famous neighbourhoods and districts were beginning to form and livening up. Meanwhile, a large Muslim theological school for Scholar Sheik Ebu’l Vefa was built behind where Vefa High School stands today. The Social Complex, was established for Sheik Ebu’l Vefa who was a descendant of Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi. Fatih had an excessive affection for this scholar who became more famous after coming to Istanbul. The Sultans and grand viziers or pashas who began to rule the Ottoman Empire after Fatih Sultan Mehmet (Mehmet The Conqueror) acquired fame by building mosques, theological schools, baths and fountains. Fatih’s developing and enlivening in short time is by the help of these periods and the artifacts they had done. The Mosque which one of Fatih’s pashas Has Murat Pasha founded and around it is known as Murat Pasa Quarter. Social Complexes followed this founded by Koca Mustafa Pasha, Kucuk Mustafa Pasha, Iskender Pasha and Atik Ali Pasha. Settlement became rapidly where a social complex was founded and the face of Fatih changed faster. KanunT Sultan Suleyman had Suleymaniye and Selimiye Mosques done in Qarsamba. In time, famous people also made magnificent artifacts to the county. Meanwhile, people like Mimar Sinan, Mihrimah Sultan, Davut Pasha, Fatma Sultan, Haci Evhaddin, Abdi Qelebi, Katip Muslihiddin and others helped to form regions and quarters by creating famous artifacts in our district. District was the center of Sehramenet for some time and the place was called Sehremini. 18th century, witnesses the leaving of old city and the growth along the shores and outside the City Walls. As a matter of fact, Fatih District could not make any progress after 18th century.

The fires that occurred in 18th century destroyed the old districts in some parts and the big earthquake in 1776 damaged Fatih Social Complex seriously and was demolished totally. The mosque was rebuilt again and put into service by III. Mustafa (1757-1774) in 1771, the tombs of Fatih and Gulbahar Hatun was completed in I.Abdulhamid (1774- 1789) period. The Library behind the Mosque was built also in 18th century. Today, The Tomb of Naksidil Sultan and fountain stands as one of the most beautiful baroque structures in Istanbul instead of the hospital -a part of the Social Complex. The caravanserai which later on a military Ottoman junior high school was built on its land was also considered to be demolished in the same earthquake. The public bath of Fatih Social Complex which was built before the structure by Irgads (or Karaman) was burned down during World War I. The fact, some structures of the Social Complex were not rebuilt, points out that the region’s importance as settlement had decreased by the end of 18th century. But the Hirka- i Serif Mosque which was built in honor of Hz.Prophet’s second dervish coat by Sultan Abdulmecit in 1851 shows the region preserved its religious importance. Hirka-i Serif gradually had a special place in people’s religious lives and gained a district entity around it. Fatih was damaged seriously during Circir Fire in 1908 and thousands of buildings were destroyed on May 31st 1918, Cibali Fire. The district, planned in an ortogonal (cut each other in straight angles) road pattern system, in time, frame houses changed into micro scaled two to three floored apartments and houses.

After all, except the fire scenes, there are districts in Fatih preserving the old street pattern and frame structures until the Ataturk Boulevard which passes through Saraghane and the big Boulevard which revealed the bases of Fatih Social Complex lying through Edirnekapi (Macar Kardesler and Fevzi Pasa Streets) were opened. During Menderes’s public improvement movements (1954- 1960), building density had increased and multi-storey concrete apartments gradually had risen, old citizens of the district became minority due to new population and most of the families left Fatih. Thus, not only the historic structure and civil architecture but also the social pattern changed totally. Increasing population density encouraged the improvement of sub-commerce regions and a commerce axis, invading the housing zones, emerged along Fevzi Pasa Street by the effect of the City Hall which was put into service in 1960.With some changes, the old Fatih Caravanserai being on this axis was restored for commercial purposes.

According to the resources we have, it is assumed that the place where Topkapi Palace, Sarayburnu and Sirkeci region stands today was the place Byzantine was first founded. The Sirkeci-Eminonu shore starting from the west of Sarayburnu was a port entirely and the part where Sirkeci Train Station exists, later filled with land is known.

After 10th century, especially Genoise and people from Pisa, Latin colonies got privileged lands, settled and built their own commerce docks at the port.

Between Eminonu and Sirkeci, the population majority was Jews around Bahgekapi quarter behind Yeni Mosque so the Gate was called “Porta Hebraica” or “Porta Judeca” and Turks called it as Cifit Kapisi (Suhut Kapisi). In Byzantine period, it is rumoured that there was a tower near this gate and a chain which was tightened on Goldenhorn’s mouth linked on one end to Galata Tower and the other end to this tower.

Like in Byzantine period, also in Ottoman period, Eminonu region continued to be a trade center where imported products were unloaded, preserved and thousands of sailors and tradesmen worked. At the same time, Eminonu was a large seaport of Istanbul so that inns and bazaars were also present in a large field besides many religious monuments. The silhouette of the region began to change by building Galata Bridge.

Building of the steamships, Sirket-i Hayriye, the railway’s coming to Sirkeci during Sultan Abdulaziz period, building the tunnel, horsecars then the trolley line, the new docks and storage houses built in Galata and Sirkeci at the end of 19th century changed the whole appearance of Eminonu and the Square.

During Ottoman period, Sirkeci preserved its importance by being close to Topkapi Palace, then being Bab-i Ali’s dock (Government Office Center). Building Railways and Sirkeci Train Station leaded here to gain importance. At this period, Bahcekapi is known as the gate which people who got promoted to grand viziership were passed through in order to be brought to the Palace. It is indicated in the sources that the cereals and all kinds of trade products were passed through this gate. In the evenings when the city gates were closed, this was the gate people who were late, passed through.

In 1569, the fire starting from Demirkapi reached Bahgekapi, the Jew District was burned totally, the gate and the walls around it were demolished in the fire of 1865 and later at the road extension work. As Evliya Celebi indicated, Grandee Palaces were located in Cagaloglu Quarter. The district’s being close to the Palace must have played an important role on this.

The physical structure of Eminonu in 19th century, began to change after the proclamation of the Republic, especially during the period of Governor and Mayor Lutfi Kirdar (1938-1949). In 1928, Eminonu became a seperate district.

The structures in front of Yeni Mosque, the toll boothes for the bridge were removed and the Square was opened. The surrounding of the Spice Bazaar was cleared and restored, Balikpazari, famous with its Fish restaurants and pubs, was cleared away during the roadworks of Unkapani-Eminonu in 1955-56.

Between the years 1984-89, during the Goldenhorn works Yemis Dock and around was totally cleared away. And in 1980s, the foot bridges that were built at the Square ruined the old characteristic of the district. During the first half of the 20th century Sirkeci became the center of cheap hotels and transport companies of the guest workers.

However, Sirkeci served as a dock in every period of history.

Sirkeci-Florya Coast Road which was opened in 1957-1959 helped to ease the heavy traffic by going around Sarayburnu from the coast. After 1960s,the cheap hotels in Sirkeci moved to Laleli-Aksaray and trade and business center quality gained importance in the district again. On the coastal part of the district, ferry­boat and ship docks that cruises to Bandirma-Mudanya, izmir and on the opposite side of Sirkeci train Station Harem-Sirkeci ferry-boat docks are located.

Bahcekapi district of Eminonu, became an entire trade center whereas it also had residential buildings until 1960s. On the east of Galata Bridge’s foot, from Eminonu Square to Sirkeci, Cityline Ferry Ports which connect Rumelia side to Anatolian side are located. After the proclamation of the Republic, Cagaloglu quarter lost its political power and quality. However, Cagaloglu became prominent in being the Press Center in this period as it was in the Ottoman Period.

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