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Almost we all know the well-known encomium cited by Nedim in early XVIIIth century, which begins with the following verse;

Bu şehr-i sıtanbul ki bimisl ü behadır
Bir sergine yer pare Acem mülkü fedadır

[This city of İstanbul has a heavenly beauty
Sacrificing all Persian land for it is worthy]

Well, is there anybody who knows Latifi, who addressed us with the following verses in midst of XVIth century,approximately one hundred and fifty years before Nedim?

İrem bağ budur dır her görenler
Ki çıkmak istemez ana girenler


Öyme ey hace bize Hind ü Hata vü Hoten'i
Bundadur lutf u şeref buna Sitanbul derler.

[Who saw it says it is thge garden of heaven
And nobody wants to get out once they are in


Hodja do not magnify us Hata and Hoten
This is called Sitanbul, it has all grace and crown]

What is this city named İstanbul, where we have been living since midst of XVth century, where does it start and where does it end? What kind of a city is that İstanbul?

This city, in other words İstanbul, which Karoly Kos tried to define in early XXth century as "İstanbul is a city but not an ordinary city", is in fact today's Eminönü neighborhood.

Acropolis of the past, Hippodrome, Roman Imperial Palace, Theatre, Million Stone which is the start point of Via Egnatia'nın, Forum Tauri...Old and new imperial palaces, Bab-ı Ali, Bab-ı Seraskeri, office of chief religious officer in other words Meşihat Kapısı, Janissary barracks, Covered Bazaar, docks, today's Governorship office, office of Metopolitan Municipality, University, until recent times judicial court, Hagias Sophia, Sultanahmet and Süleymaniye Mosques and others, we met all in Eminönü. As it is seen, the small square in front of customs office [so-called gümrük eminliği] around Yeni Camii and named after it in the past adopted the whole region today, gave its name and covered the "original İstanbul".

Perhaps we are not so awere of it, however; İstanbul, the city where we live and be proud to live there, was burned and destructed four times in the past and reconstructed.

First one of these destructions and reconstructions was left in dark depths of history, and almost never touched upon until today. In spite of our curiosity against harmonic legends and narrations, we are hardly interested in the history and the history of the city we live in. Despite of dense settlement occurred during cunturies, no excavations especially on acropolis region were realized except for those conducted on ground of Hagias Sophia and Hagias Irene in 1940’s and no effort was exerted to evaluate settlement traces in this region. In the coarse of works conducted around Sarayburnu in 1980’s in order to supply the city with water from Anatolian Side, traces of ancient settlements were encountered and some remaining of ancient city walls was brought to light, however; they could not have gone beyond being an insignificant news in local newspapers due to some worries concerning the continuation of works.

Almost every one, who administrates this city, who speaks about it, says with great confidence that İstanbul was established in 660 BC by Megara Greeks and then they named the land of those who did not realize such a beauty and settled in Kadıköy as "Land of Blins".

How nice isn't it, today some İstanbulites live in Land of Blinds, in other words in Kadıköy. Let's reconsider it and try to write the history of our city which will be european Capital of Culture in near future [2010].

The first destruction of İstanbul and its reconstruction probably occurred when the small settlement around Sarayburnu -which was established by otakton Thracian clans and callled Lygos by old Plinius-was occupied by Megara Greeks and rearranged. By the way, I think it would be useful to emphasized that the name Lygos [Lykos] is a word which derivates from Luwi language. It is our responsibility against this city to research this first settlement which was left in darkness of history and bring it into day light.

Second fire and destruction in the city and then its reconstruction was after the occupation occurred in 196 AD Roman Empire Septumus Severus defeated Pescennius Niger around İznik in 194 AD, and Niger sheltered in Byzantine. Afterwards, Romans surrounded the city for two years. City was gave in 196 and then it was burned and destructed. Its statue as being a city was changed and joined to Marmara Ereğlisi [Perinthos / Heraklia after IVth Century]. By the way, I am sure that few of us know that Perinthos Metropolite crowned Patriarch during coronation ceremony of Patriarchs in Fener Greek Patriarchy, which we generally denied, in memoriam of those days.

However, as Latifi stated long later, this city is not the one which could be left so easily. Those who owned it once realize what they owned in a comparably short time.

Septumus Severus initiated reconstruction in the destructed city, extended city walls. He had Zeuxippos baths, Hippodrome and Strategion, which would be used as janissary barracks in future, constructed. We should state that in that period Agora of city was in the same area with Hagias Sophia. By the way, name of the city would be changed. Since then, name Byzantium was left in the past. The new name of city would be "Antoneinia - Augusta Antonina" after his son Aurelius Antoninus Caravalla.

Although there are proofs of visit paid by Roman Empires Gallineus [252-268] and Maximinus [312-313] to the city, we do not know whether they initiated reconstruction or not. On the contrary, we know that Emperor Constantinos had some new buildings constructed in the city as of 325 AD on 26 November 328, foundation for new walls was laid in order to shift the walls on land towards west. Finally, after the biggest part of construction works was completed on 11 May 330, celebrations and ceremonies were organized and then name of the city was changed once more; Deutera Rome or Nea Rome [Second Rome / New Rome]. This name was not used commonly, and then modified a bit and instead of it, Constantinopole [Konstantiniyye] was used almost until 1922. Since then people living there were called Roman and it was transferred into our language as "Rum in other words Roman". Because of this, all Greek people refuse the word Rum. They claim that they are Greek, and think where the word Roman derivates from, and they are right. But we insist to make Romans, who lived in Anatolia for thousands of years and whom we called Rums, Greek for sometime in the past. Still we do not have a certain idea about it.

Constantinopole is the capital of a belief at the same time. A new understanding dominated by Christianity in stead of Pagan belief began to prevail in the city. Old Pagan temples were torn down and churches and monasteries were constructed in the same area. Valens Aquaductus supplied water to the city. An imperial palace and docks was constructed on Marmara coast. Settlement area which became insufficient an a very short time was extended once more in the period of Theodosisus II, and today's city walls were constructed. Hagias Sophia was constructed in 524 and the language used in the city transformed from Latin to Greek. On 29 May 1453, Ottoman forces under the command of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror entered into city, and the destruction was slight comparing to the former ones. Because half of the city was already destructed, it was not be able to overcome the destruction caused by Latins who entered into city on 17 July 1203. After 1453, city started to search for a new identity. City was getting enriched with old palace, new palace, Fatih Camii and many other similar buildings and intensive construction works continued throughout XVIth and XVIIth centuries.

Perhanps today none of us is aware of it sufficiently, however; another, different, a new culture which refused its history although it tried to provide peace and understand it in the recent peridos spends effort to reconstruct İstanbul for the fifth time.

By means of this presentation, I would like to present you what we should pay attention for the sake of İstanbul which is being reconstructed for the fifth time both verbally and visually.

In Tarih-i Ebu'l-feth, Tursun Beg describes the area where new palace was constructed as “a place seeing two land and two seas”. Actually, that part of İstanbul which extends toward Bosphorous dominates two seas and two lands, and maintains its general appearance for hundreds of years. When we look at Suriçi from Galata, we do not see a considerable spoil in general appearance of the city except for several big buildings affecting its silhouette.

However, we should look it at from the sea.

Now I would like to present you the entrance of İstanbul in 1874 through the narration by Edmondo de Amicis:

The excitement I lived when I entered into İstanbul made me almost forget everything I saw during ten days voyage from Messina Strait to İstanbul Strait. I should start to tell everything from the vety beginning when sea captain approached to me and my friend Yunk and put his hands on your shoulders and said in Palermo accent that: "Sirs! Tomorrow morning, just at dawn, we will see the first minarets of İstanbul!", in other words from our last night in the middle of Marmara Sea.

As soon as I saw that the sun rose, I jumped out of the bed. Yunk got up already. We dressed up quickly and reached to deck just in three jumps.

Damn it! It was foggy. I became wretched. At that moment captain appeared. There was no need to speak, as soon as he saw us, he understood what happened and comforted us.

"Nothing to worry! Nothing to worry! Do not afraid sirs, moreover you thank for the fog. Thank to it, you will enter İstanbul in the best way which was impossiple to dream.

Then a long wait and cries. Well, here it is, here!"

Finally, behind the fog, first there appeared whitish piles, then uncertain shape of a something really high, and then powerful twinkles of windows enlightened by the sun, and a mountain, a lot of small colorful overlapped houses, and the city in full day light, it was a high city remained under minarets, domes and cypresses. There was Üsküdar and Kadıköy on one side, Saray Hill on another, Galata, Pera and Bosphorous just across us. We need to spin around in order to see all together and we were looking around with a passionate sight by laughing, waving our hands here and there without speaking, gasping with pleasure and spinning around.

What magnificent times they were, my God!

"Be careful sirs! shouted captain before ordering to move forward, that is the moment to be careful. After a few minutes we will be across İstanbul!"

I happened to feel as if I was cold. We waited some more time.God! How bites my heart! I was hastily waiting for that nice word: Ahead!

"Ahead" shouted the captain. Ship was juddered.

King, princes, Krezus, the richest and most powerful people in the world, I felt pity for all of you at that moment; the point I stood up in the ship was worth to your all treasure and I would not change an instant of my sight with an Empire.

One moment... one more moment... we are passing by is an extremely large area in full day light, I feel as if I saw endless things and colors... we passed oreland... here is İstanbul! Magnificent, enormous, great İstanbul! Thans to God, distinction to those created! I did not see such a beauty even in my dreams!

After a century and a quarter, in order to provide you to experience that moment, I made for Marmara Sea. How İstanbul is seen from the sea route which is not used today but was used for thousands of years, let's watch altogether.

Here are the views, İstanbul, which is being reconstructed for the fifth time. Unpleasant views which we do not see and never wonder.

I would like to remind that we should pay more attension and be more respectful against history and tender, while interfere a city like İstanbul, which is defined to be the most beautiful city by the whole world. Of course, there are many people who can say I did and it is okay now. However, we should keep in our minds that in what kind of feelings and with what kind of words the next generations will remember them.