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This city of Stanboul is without equal or price
One of its stones is worth the whole land of Persia


A precious jewel set between two seas
Comparable to the sun that illuminates the world


Is the highest heaven beneath or above it?
In truth how excellent, how fıne its water and air


Ahmed Nedim [1681-1730]


[Aksu 1999, 357-359].


Archaeological evidence of human habitation in the area within the city walls revealed by recent excavations shows that Istanbul’s past goes back 8000 years [Kızıltan-Öztuncay 2007]. Moving several thousand years forward in the time, the fırst pictorial record of the city, known successively as Lygos, Byzantion, Antoninia, Nea Roma, Konstantinopolis, Konstantiniyye, and fınally Istanbul, is the Tabula Peutingeriana [the Peutinger Map]. For centuries the city was an inspiration for artists, one of whom, Melchior Lorichs, drew the fırst panorama of the city in 1559, and this was followed by others over the centuries until the advent of photography. The earliest surviving panoramic photographs of the city are those taken by James Robertson in 1854 [Genim 2006, I, 16-17], and this tradition was continued by Kargopoulo, the Abdullah Brothers, the Gülmez Brothers, Guillaime Berggren, and Sebah&Joaillier [Özendes [Tarihsiz].


When the Ottoman empire drew to an end, this tradition was forgotten, until in 1955 or 1956 an unknown photographer took a panorama consisting of eight separate photographs, each measuring 20.3 x 238 cm. These photographs were taken from the top floor of Metro Han in Tünel Square. Clues to their date are provided by the buildings and the ferryboats. Two white painted ferryboats in the foreground, moored to a buoy off Sirkeci, with the Galata Tower visible behind them to the left, belong to a group of six identical passenger ferries launched in 1949: the Büyükdere, Yalova, Anadoluhisarı, Rumelihisarı, Haydarpaşa and Büyükada [Tutel 1997, 224-226; Güleryüz 2005, 108-117]. To the left of these boats a large merchant ship with the words “PRUDENTIAL LINES” [Prudential Lines was an American shipping company that went bankrupt in 1986] painted on the hull is moored to a buoy by lines from the prow and the stern. Behind this ship one of another group of identical ferries, the Beylerbeyi, İstinye and Yeniköy, can be seen heading for Galata Bridge. These ferries, which went into operation in 1951, are identifıable by the inclined mast in front of the funnel [Tutel 1997, 227-228; Güleryüz 2005, 118-121]. A car ferry almost hidden behind two merchant ships moored by the stern to Sirkeci quay, with Haghia Sophia visible immediately above, is one of the almost identical group of car ferries, the Kasımpaşa, Kızkulesi, Karaköy ve Kuruçeşme, [Tutel 1997, 235; Güleryüz 2005, 204-207.] which operated between Sirkeci and Üsküdar. All these car ferries have two towers at either end and went into operation in 1952.


In addition the building at the far left side of the panorama, on the slopes of Nakkaştepe hill behind Kuzguncuk is that originally known as Marko Paşa Mansion, which at the time the photograph was taken housed Kuzguncuk Primary School. I remember the penthouse on the roof [Genim 2012, IV, 803-804] being converted into a full top storey in the summer of 1955-56 [Anonymous (1957), 87-94; Eldem 1983, 149-150]. A further clue is the Offıce of the Imperial Artillery Arsenal, whose roof can be seen to the left in front of the Imperial Artillery Arsenal, and part of whose side façade is visible amongst trees on the right. We know that demolition of the Offıce of the Imperial Artillery Arsenal began in 1955 or 1956. There is no sign of the new Istanbul Municipal Hall in Saraçhanebaşı within the city walls. The design for this new building was selected by a national competition held in 1953, and condtruction began in 1955 or 1956 [Batur 1994, II, 144-145]. In the light of all these facts, we can conclude that the panorama was photographed between the autumn of 1955 and the spring of 1956.


In the foreground the panorama begins at the far left with the district of Cihangir, overlooking the Boğazkesen valley, and ends with the hills of Kulaksız at the far right. Across the Bosphorus in the distance, the panorama follows the Anatolian coast to the Marmara Sea, beginning with the district of Kuzguncuk and ending with Moda headland, behind which Fenerbahçe headland can be faintly distinguished. In the background the bare, treeless summit of Büyük Çamlıca hill can be seen above the district of Üsküdar, with the slightly lower summits of Küçük Çamlıca hill to the right. Rising behind these in the far distance is Kayışdağ mountain, from which a series of lower hills descend towards the Marmara Sea. The hill visible behind Haydarpaşa Station on the right is Dragos situated some distance to the east on the Marmara coast. To the right of Fenerbahçe headland, the series of hills that appear to form an uninterrupted land mass are actually the group of small islands off the northern Marmara coast.


The walled city begins with the headland of Sarayburnu surmounted by Topkapı Palace. Apart from the area around the palace and a small area in front of Süleymaniye Mosque, there is hardly a tree to be seen in the densely built-up townscape that continues all the way to Bahariye in the district of Eyüp towards the end of the Golden Horn.


Examining the panorama in more detail, we can see the hillsides scattered with cemeteries behind Çengelköy at the far left. Heavily wooded spots to the right mark the positions of the Küplüce and Nakkaştepe cemeteries. The light coloured building visible just to the left of Cihangir Mosque minaret is Kuzguncuk Primary School, formerly Marko Paşa Mansion [Genim 2012, IV, 804-805]. The parks of Fethi Ahmed Paşa and Hüseyin Avni Paşa stretch up to the ridge of the wooded hillside between Kuzguncuk and Paşalimanı. The large building just visible on the shore is the Mithat Nemli tobacco warehouse that was demolished some time after 1984, and the tall building to its right is another tobacco warehouse built by the architect Vedat Bey that is still standing today [Ibid., IV, 844-845]. Nearer to Üsküdar is the Çürüksulu Mahmud Paşa waterfront mansionand beyond this the Türk Castrol depots with their sawtooth roofs which were also demolished after 1984. The hillside above Üsküdar Quay is covered with wooden houses. There are hardly any blocks of flats to be seen. Just behind Mihrimah Sultan Mosque and its complex on the shore is the Bülbül Deresi Cemetery, identifıable by the densely growing cypress trees. To the right of the tobacco warehouses that were demmolished after 1984 is Gülnûş Emetulah Valide Sultan Mosque with its pair of minarets, and the tiny Şemsi Paşa Mosque, barely distinguishable in front of the massive tobacco warehouses.


In the area originally known as Damalis and later as Şemsipaşa headland no new buildings can be seen. The Maiden’s Tower on its offshore islet and the steep cliff of Salacak descending to the shore behind look much the same as they do today. Salacak Quay, which is hidden behind the Maiden’s Tower, was a calling point for 11 ferryboats a day running between the Galata Bridge, Beşiktaş and Kabataş in 1937, and 14 a day in 1952. To the left of the Maiden’s Tower, halfway up the hillside behind it is Atîk Valide Sultan Mosque with its two minarets and surrounding complex, which was built by the architect Sinan in H. 991/1583 [Ayvansarâyî 2001, 588]. To the right the Selimiye Barracks runs along the steep hillside, and just to the left of this building is Selimiye Mosque, with two minarets, built in H. 1220/1804-1805 [Ibid., 596-601; Öz 1965; 58]. Just to the right of the barracks we can see the imposing Haydarpaşa High School, and further to the right Haydarpaşa Military Hospital, in front of which lies the British Cemetery with its many cypresses, extending towards the shore [Eğin 1994, IV, 174]. Soon after the photograph was taken, construction of Haydarpaşa Harbour would begin in this area, concealing both the high school and the other buildings. Further on is Haydarpaşa Station standing on the waterfront, with its silos behind. The breakwater here was built during the reign of Sultan Abdülhamid II [Müller-Wiener 1998, 175], and when the harbour buildings were constructed shortly afterwards a second longer breakwater was constructed, using stone quarried on the island of Sivriada. In this section of the panorama the neighbourhoods of Kadıköy, Mühürdar and Moda can be seen in silhouette streching towards the Marmara Sea, with Fenerbahçe headland faintly visible behind them. Apart from a few monumental historical buildings there is not a single large building rising above the skyline to dominate the townscape.


The section of the panorama showing the old city within the wals is magnificent. Apart from a few large buildings that do not rise above the skyline, modern vessels moored in the harbour, and the newly built Atatürk Boulevard between Unkapanı and Saraçhanebaşı, it is as if nothing has changed since Melchior Lorichs [Lorichs 1559.] drew his panorama in 1559. We might be looking back in time at the Istanbul of the past. On the skyline of the old city, beginning at Sarayburnu headland, can be seen Topkapı Palace, Haghia Sophia, Sultanahmet Mosque, Çemberlitaş, Nur-u Osmaniye Mosque, Bayezid Mosque, Beyazıt Tower, Istanbul University buildings, the Sülemaniye and Şehzade mosques, Bozdoğan Aqueduct, Fatih Mosque, Darüşşafaka orphanage buildings, Yavuz Selim Mosque, and higher up Mihrimah Sultan Mosque in Edirnekapı, followed by other buildings stretching from here to Eyüp Sultan. At Eminönü and Tophane the inshore area is full of boats of all sizes. It is astonishing how the large merchant ships moored from the stern between Sirkeci and Eminönü managed to manoevre in this small harbour. This area measuring just 1000 metres long and 750 metres wide between Sarayburnu and Galata Bridge is fılled with merchant ships, ferries that carried passengers to settlements along the Bosphorus, Haydarpaşa, Kadıköy and to the Islands, many boats tied to buoys, car ferries that plied their way between Eminönü and Üsküdar, boats carrying trains to Haydarpaşa and large numbers of scows and rowing boats. The single storey building at Sarayburnu is the former Provisions Warehouse [Eldem-Akozan 1982, 110], and along the shore towards Eminönü the harbour buildings. Behind Galata Tower part of the Customs Office is visible. Although most of Galata Bridge is concealed by Galata Tower, the quays used by passenger ferries on the Bosphorus route can be seen next to the Eminönü end of the bridge. To the right of the area in front of Yeni Mosque is the Fruit Market, most of was to be demolished after 1986. Further to the right Rüstem Paşa Mosque can just be distinguished amongst the other buildings, with Tahtakale Baths immediately to its right. Along the shore towards Unkapanı we can see the Vegatable and Fruit Market that was demolished after 1984, and behind this rises the chimney of the old flour mill. Atatürk Boulevard, which links Unkapanı and Saraçhane and opened on 26 February 1943, is a striking example of how modern infrastructure transformed the traditional urban texture. This broad road leading up the hill to Saraçhanebaşı divided the city in two, forming a boundary between Eminönü and Fatih; and together with the Vatan and Millet roads constructed later dealt a serious blow to the traditional neighbourhoods and historic buildings in this area [Ünsal 1969, 6-61]. These ruthless interventions in the traditional urban texture eventually led to the residents of Eminönü moving elsewhere, and the population dropped to the point where the district lost its status as a city district and was incorporated into Ftih prior to the 2009 elections. Cibali Cigarette Factory and the buildings of Darüşşafaka orphanage above it stand out as two of the largest buildings inside the city walls. Smilarly the additional new buildings of Istanbul University on the site of Old Palace between Beyazıt Tower and Süleymaniye Mosque contrast starkly with the rest of the old city. The upper two storeys of Istanbul University Botanical Institute building visible just to the right of Süleymaniye Mosque were shortly to be demolished, so removing a structure that hid the view of the mosque from Atatürk Bridge.


In addition to the many small boats arrayed along the waterfront between Unkapanı and Ayvansaray, large ships moored to buoys can be seen in the Golden Horn. Apart from the residential areas along the banks of this inlet, there is little building in the area outside the city walls. Rami Barracks can be seen on the skyline above the neighbourhood of Defterdar. There are hardly any buildigs in the vicinity, which is wooded in patches. The suburb of Eyüp has not yet expanded up the hillside, but extends into the valley. Small areas of building can be seen on the shore at Bahariye to the right of Eyüp. Outside the city walls Defterdar Zal Mahmud Paşa Mosque and Eyüp Sultan Mosque with its pair of minarets can be clearly seen.


In the foreground, as previously mentioned, the district of Beyoğlu stretches from Cihangir to the hiltop of Kulaksız. In the bottom left corner part of the roof of the Swedish Consulate General can be seen, on the corner of İstiklal and Şahkulu Bostanı streets. The small minaret with a single balcony and a dome-shaped cap belonging to Firuz Ağa Mosque in Cihngir built during the reign of Sultan Bayezid II [1481-1512] can be seen [Ayvansarâyî 2001, 470; Öz 1965, 24]. To its right a similar minaret belonging to Cihangir Mosque built in H. 967/1559-1560 can be discerned on the skyline [Ayvansarâyî 2001, 472; Öz 1965, 16]. The building with scaffolding in fronts is the Italian Hospital, which was once the only tall building in the area but is now almost concealed amongst others around it. To the right is Nusretiye Mosque, with two minarets. The minaret to the left of this belongs to Tophane Ocağı Mosque, also known as Topçular Kışlası Mosque, which was demolished a few years afterwards in 1958 [Ayvansarâyî 2001, 472; Öz 1965, 66].


Nusretiye Mosque is surrounded by warehoses with sawtooth roofs and winches that presage the harbour buildings and bonded warehouses that would soon be constructed in the vicinity of the mosque [1983, 149-150]. In front of it is the distinctive Imperial Artillery Arsenal with its fıve domes, and in front of that the Offıce of the Imperial Artillery Arsenal, soon to be demolished when Meclis-i Mebusan street was being widened [Genim 2006, I, 88-89]. Other landmarks in this area are Tophane Kılıç Ali Paşa Mosque with its single minaret and bath belonging to the mosque complex. Close axamination of the photograph shows the slate clad bell tower of the Crimean Church, built behind the Office of the Imperial Artillery Arsenal during the Crimean War [Üsdiken 1994, IV, 565-566].


The two and three-storey building with a hip roof in the foreground is the German High School [Özgüven 1994, I, 212-213.], and right behind it, the building with an advertising panel on the roof reading “Doğan Sigorta” is the Doğan Apartment Building. Only the treetops in the grounds of the Galata [Kulekapısı] Mevlevi Dervish Lodge in front of the German High School can be seen.


As time went on large buildings were constructed along the waterfront between Tophane and Karaköy. The most dominant building in this area is the Harbour Authority with its tall tower and Passenger Hall, where travellers arriving by sea were met and passed through passport and customs control points. It also hoses Liman Lokantası, which used to be one of the most famous restaurants in the city [Anonymous 1994, V, 213-214].


Right in the centre of the panorama is Galata Tower, looking as it did after repairs carried out in the 1860s. In 1964-1967 the tower was restored to its orginal appearance, as we see it today [Anadol-Arıoğlu 2004, 151-174; Genim 2006, I, 92]. Just to the right of Galata Tower you can discern a tower whose shape adds interest to the silhouette of Galata. This tower belongs to the naval hospital built for British sailors during the Crimean War. Known as the British Seaman’s Hospital, it was trasferred to the Turkish Red Crescent in 1924 and went on to serve as Beyoğlu Municipal Hospital for many years [Yıldırım 1994, IV, 173; Türel 2004, 306].


Between Karaköy and Azapkapı are large boats moored to the shore. When we look closely, we can see the conical cap and large closed balcony of the minaret of Arap Mosque, built in H. 97/715 by the Arab general Müslime bin Abdülmelik and later used as a church by Dominican monks. Shortly after the conquest of Istanbul the building was turned back into a mosque and is still in use today [Ayvansarâyî 2001, 424-427; Öz 1965, 5]. Atatürk Bridge linking Azapkapı to Unkapanı on the other side of the Golden Horn has hardly any traffıc, and the advertising panels attached to the lamp posts look like trees.


To the left of the bridge the dome and tall slender minaret of Sokullu Mehmet Paşa Mosque can be discerned. A high building standing between the mosque and the waterfront that obstructs the view of the mosque from the sea was later demolished.


On the right is a new road known as Yolcuzade İskender [Lokmanoğlu 1955: Beyoğlu I. Harita] Caddesi built in the 1940s down the hill from Şişhane to Azapkapı. Trees have been planted along one side of the road, which has broad pavements. On the building at the left-hand corner of this road and Bankalar Caddesi is a building with a Philco advertisement.


To the right beyond Azapkapı, where the shore is lined with shipyards, two large merchant ships are moored alongside in front of the Golden Horn Shipyard, probably waiting to be taken into dock. Past these, in front of the Office of the High Admiral is the Hamidiye warship moored by the stern. This ship was built in the British city of Newcastle and joined the Ottoman naval fleet in April 1904. In 1945 it was retired from active service and used first as a training ship, then between 1949 and 1951 as the Naval Museum, when it was moored at Kabataş. After 1951 the Hamidiye was moored in the Golden Horn, where we see it in the photograph. It remained there until 10 September 1964, when it was sold for scrap and dismantled [Langensipen&Güleryüz 2000, 155]. Numerous merchant and naval ships can be seen off Camialtı Shipyard, as well as many smaller boats for carrying freight. The foundations of the Offıce of the High Admiral, off which the Hamidiye cruiser is moored, were laid on 10 July 1864 and the building was inaugurated in 1868. It was designed by the architect Sarkis Balyan. It was later used to house fırst the Naval Ministry and then the Northern Naval Command until a few years ago. It is currently under restoration [Genim 2004, 125-150].


A Golden Horn ferry is alongside Kasımpaşa Ferryboat Quay just in front of the building. The shore between this quay and the Golden Horn Shipyard is crowded with boats of all sizes moored tightly together. The shoreline here is heavily built up, mostly with single storey buildings. After 1984 all these buildings were purchased by the authorities and demolished to make way for a large park.
In the lower right corner is the Seamen’s Barracks [Cezayirli Hasan Paşa Barracks], with a parade graund in front of it. In the courtyard of the barracks is the Kalyoncular Mosque, with a single minaret and square plan. This barracks was built by High Admiral Cezayirli Hasan Paşa in H. 1198/1783-1784, and is the fırst modern barracks constructed before the reign of Sultan Selim III [1789-1807] [Karakaya 2004, II, 566].


On the hillside behind the Office of the High Admiral the building that today houses Kasımpaşa Naval Hospital can just be discerned. This building, with its famous clock tower, was previously known as Sakızağacı Naval Hospital.




Aksu 1999
Cemal Aksu, “Nedim [Ahmed, Mülakkabzade]”, Yaşamları and Yaptıklarıyla Osmanlılar Ansiklopedisi, II, Istanbul, 1999, pp. 357-359.


Anadol-Arıoğlu 2004
Köksal Anadol-Ersin Arıoğlu, “Galata Kulesi”, Geçmişten Günümüze Beyoğlu, I, Istanbul, 2004, pp. 151-174.


Anonymous 1957
Anonymous, İstanbul’un Kitabı, Istanbul, [1957].


Anonymous 1994
Anonymous, “Liman Lokantası”, Dünden Bugüne İstanbul Ansiklopedisi, V, Istanbul, 1994, pp. 213-214.


Ayvansarâyî 2001
Hüseyin Ayvansarâyî, Hadîkatü’l-Cevâmi [İstanbul Camileri], ed. Ahmet Nezih Galitekin, Istanbul, 2001.


Batur 1994
Afife Batur, “Belediye Sarayı”, Dünden Bugüne İstanbul Ansiklopedisi, II, Istanbul, 1994, pp. 144-145.


Eğin 1994
Ergün Eğin, “İngiliz Mezarlığı”, Dünden Bugüne İstanbul Ansiklopedisi, IV, Istanbul, 1994, p. 174.


Eldem and Akozan 1982
Sedad Hakkı Eldem-Feridun Akozan, Topkapı Sarayı, Istanbul, 1982.


Eldem 1983
Sedad Hakkı Eldem, 50 Yıllık Meslek Jübilesi, Istanbul, 1983.


Genim 2004
M. Sinan Genim, “Saraylar, Kasırlar, Konaklar and Evler”, Geçmişten Günümüze Beyoğlu, I, Istanbul, 2004, pp.125-150.


Genim 2006
M. Sinan Genim, From Konstantiniyye to Istanbul Photographs of the Rumeli Shore of the Bosphorus from the Mid 19th to the 20th Century, I-II, Istanbul, 2006.


Genim 2012
M. Sinan Genim, From Konstantiniyye to Istanbul Photographs of the Anadolu Shore of the Bosphorus the Mid 19th to the 20th Century, III-IV, Istanbul, 2012.


Güleryüz 2005
Ahmet Güleryüz, İstanbul Vapurları, Istanbul, 2005.


Kızıltan and Öztuncay 2007
Zeynep Kızıltan-Bahattin Öztuncay [Eds.], Gün Işığında İstanbul’un 8000 Yılı, Istanbul, 2007.


Langensiepen&Güleryüz 2000
Bernd Langensiepen&Ahmet Güleryüz, 1828-1923 Osmanlı Donanması, Istanbul, 2000.


Karakaya 2004
Ebru Karakaya,” Kışlalar”, Geçmişten Günümüze Beyoğlu, II, Istanbul, 2004, pp. 561-568.


Lorichs 1559
Melchior Lorichs, Panaroma of İstanbul 1559, Haz. Ahmet Ertuğ, Bern, 1999.


Lokmanoğlu 1955
Haytrettin Lokmanoğlu, Haritalı Şehir Rehberi: İstanbul, Istanbul, 1955.


Müller-Wiener 1998
Wolfgang Müler-Wiener, Istanbul Limanı, Istanbul, 1998.


Öz 1965
Tahsin Öz, İstanbul Camileri, II, Ankara, 1965.


Özendes [Tarihsiz]
Engin Özendes, Panorama de Constantinople, Istanbul.


Özgüven 1994
Burcu Özgüven,”Alman Lisesi”, Dünden Bugüne İstanbul Ansiklopedisi, I, Istanbul, 1994, pp. 212-213.


Tutel 1997
Eser Tutel, Seyr-i Sefain, Istanbul, 1997.


Türel 2004
Ömer Türel, “Hastahaneler”, Geçmişten Günümüze Beyoğlu, I, Istanbul, 2004, pp. 299-306.


Ünsal 1969
Behçet Ünsal,”İstanbul’un İmarı and Eski Eser Kaybı”, Türk Sanatı Tarihi Araştırma ve İncelemeleri, II, Istanbul, 1969, pp. 6-61.


Üsdiken 1994
Behzat Üsdiken,”Kırım Kilisesi”, Dünden Bugüne İstanbul Ansiklopedisi, IV, Istanbul, 1994, pp. 565-566.


Yıldırım 1994
Nuran Yıldırım,”İngiliz Hastanesi”, Dünden Bugüne İstanbul Ansiklopedisi, IV, Istanbul, 1994, pp. 173.

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