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Kanlıca

A seaside village: Kanlıca

Update: 10 March 2010

Kanlica is one of the first places that comes to mind when thinking about of old Istanbul.

With its rough inlet, its seaside mansions, its streets surrounded by wooden buildings smelling of linden trees, and perhaps most importantly, with the famous “Kanlıca Yoghurt” almost synonimous with the town’s name, here is a little seaside town that has preserved its unique structure.

Istanbul is an endless city… From Anatolia to Rumeli, it is getting larger and larger every day, containing those places most of which we have not seen or even heard of. But how much Istanbul are these distant places? Istanbul is the Bosphorus. It is the Historical Peninsula. Or isn’t it? Isn’t real Istanbul hidden in the oldest districts each of which has a hint of the past and is full of life?

Kanlıca is one of these old districts that shows us real Istanbul. Although it is not the same Kanlıca remembered by the elderly, it is still a corner that could escape the menace of “unification” slowly taking hold of Istanbul. Its streets still smell like the old city with the grocery store, the greengrocer’s, the hairdresser’s...

Kanglı, Kanglıca, Kanlıca…
Kanlıca lies along the inlet that has Çubuklu in the north and Anadoluhisarı in the south. It is a part of Beykoz. Kanlıca Inlet, which was once called Phiela, is just on the south of it. This bay on the intersection of Bülbül Deresi and the sea reminds of moon festivals organized in 19th century.

Although Kanlıca had its heyday in the rising period of the Ottoman Empire, life in this region dates back to ancient ages. The region was called in those days “Glarus” meaning “seagull”. It was known by the name “Elasos” or “Olasos” in the Byzantine period. There are various rumors about its current name.

A very long time ago, kağnıs (ox-carts) were made in this region. Thus one of the rumors is that Kanlıca was derived from “kanglıca” which was also derived from “kanglı”, which means “small car”. Another rumor claims that the pinkish milk obtained from the cows which were fed on a kind of red grass on the skirts of Kanlıca was called “kanglı” and this word turned into “Kanlıca” in time. What is more interesting is the rumor that the color of the famous Kanlıca yoghurt was once nearly pink. 

Kanlıca yoghurt of centuries…  
Kanlıca is so much identified with its yoghurt that Istanbulites think of Kanlıca when yoghurt is mentioned and of yoghurt when Kanlıca is mentioned. Macurlar Neighborhood, situated on the skirts of the town where yoghurt producers were settled, was then called as “yoghurt makers’ neighborhood”. It is said that Hüseyin Reis Effendi, one of the local people, was the first to introduce this yoghurt to the neighborhood. Yet the one who made it famous was Ismail Hakkı Bey, the owner of Ismail Ağa Kahvesi. What carried the fame to other towns was the castor sugar put on the yoghurt. But then these production facilities were closed one by one. Today, there is only one place that makes Kanlıca yoghurt in the traditional way: Kanlıca Doğa Yoğurdu. This is the legacy of Sabri Bey, who played an important role in making Kanlıca yoghurt better. The owners changed a few times after the death of Sabri Bey, but the tradition remains today. In the shop opposite the pier, both daily production and sales are made.
 
The most important aspect of Kanlıca yoghurt in comparison to others is that it is natural. There are no additives in it. No protection materials to increase the shelf life are added in the yoghurt or shocked milk. Purely natural milk from the villages of Beykoz is processed daily in the production facilities. The yoghurts produced here are sold to restaurants, cafes, and the ships passing through the Bosphorus.  

Fixed in the center of the town: Ismail Ağa Kahvesi and Iskender Pasha Mosque
One of the places where you can feel the pleasure of eating famous Kanlica yoghurt accompanied by the cool wind of the Bosphorus is Ismail Ağa Kahvesi. This place is right next to the Kanlıca Pier. It is run by the third generation of the family, and it is certainly one of the fixed assets of the town. The little place, 60 square meters wide, was opened by Ismail Hakkı Bey in 1870. It was then famous for its very strong Turkish coffee, bought as grains and broiled on brazier. Famous names like Ismet Inönü and Fevzi Çakmak were also customers of the café. Ismail Hakkı Effendi discovered in those days the yoghurt that Bulgarian immigrants living in Kandilli sold on their ox-carts. He made his own yoghurts in his own dairy farm and sold them in his café. After his decease, his son Mahmut Şevket Sipahioğlu took over the business and started to serve Kanlıca yoghurt with castor sugar on it.
 
One of the regular customers of the favorite place of Kanlıca locals, Orhan Tokay, age 81, remembers the days yearningly, when he broiled coffee here at the age of 9. His family has lived in Kanlıca for three generations. His grandfathers buried under Kanlıca Tekke Mosque were mobilization émigrés. When the enemy’s ships turned towards the bay in the war, Atatürk said: “The ships will shoot you here. Go to Fıstıklı acclivity, so that they don’t see you and fire.” Thus they move to Macurlar Neighborhood on Fıstıklı Yokuşu upon the outskirts of Kanlıca.

“The producer of Kanlıca yoghurt lived in our neighborhood” says Orhan Tokay. “There was this Hüseyin Reis in our neighborhood. He would mix three types of milk: from cows, from sheep, and from buffalo. He would boil them on brazier. He would put in a thermometer and look at it. When its thickness was proper, he would yeast the yoghurt in pots made from soil. He would put some nigella on it. This was a precaution against the evil eyes. It was enough for you to eat one spoon of that yoghurt. It was so delicious. Now you cannot have the same taste no matter how much you eat.”

In those times the pier square and Ismail Ağa Kahvesi were smaller. There was a road that separated Iskender Pasha Tomb, the burial place of Iskender Pasha and his son, and Iskender Pasha Mosque, which was built by Mimar Sinan in 1559-1560 upon the order of “Magosa Conqueror” Iskender Pasha, one of Sultan Suleiman’s viziers, from the pier. The road was later carried behind the mosque. This allowed the café to enlarge. In old days, it was a local tradition to pray in the tomb before going to work in the morning.

Streets worn off with the traces of the past, and Hıdiv Kasrı…
In Kanlıca, each street has a character of its own. Not one is like another. Roads with slight slopes take you inside the town. Wooden houses attract attention over the streets. Almost every street has a fountain built in the Ottoman era. Two of them are Orta Çeşme and Dutdibi Çeşmesi. Most of them are still in use.

The road where local market is set goes toward Hıdiv Kasrı. This road surrounded by trees leads to a heavenly garden. At the end of the garden where there are roses of all colors, Hıdiv Kasrı greets you with all its glory. Being one of the rare buildings of the Empire, it has an interesting story. The governor of Egypt is called Hıdiv in the Ottoman era. Being the governor of Egypt at an early age, Abbas Hilmi Pasha starts to seek for Ottoman-German support against the Anglo-Saxon population in Egypt. He has to stay in the Ottoman capital, so he buys two wooden seaside mansions in Çubuklu in 1903. Some time later he also buys the field behind the mansion, and asks the famous Italian architect of the period, Delfo Seminati, to construct a building in accordance with the fashion. Hıdiv Kasri is in Art Nouveau style and has elements of neo-classical, neo-Islamic and neo-Ottoman impacts. The building was abandoned until the beginning of 1980’s, but then it went through a comprehensive restoration process. It is now in the service of Istanbulites. People come here at the weekends to have some peaceful moments. Let us remind you that the upper floor of the chateau-like building and the surrounding wood also have a wonderful view of Istanbul.

A green corner for peace… Mihribat Korusu
Another place where you can watch the beauties of Istanbul from a different angle is Mihrabat Korusu. This wood was given to Rukiye Hanım, daughter of Abbas Halim Pasha, as a present for her marriage. It has ever since inspired many poets and novelists, such as Özdemir Asaf and Yahya Kemal.

You can reach Mihrabat Korusu after a walk through a pathway of rough cobblestone. It is a heavenly place where you can see both bridges over the Bosphorus and realize the curves of the waterway. Although it used to be much larger originally and it was burned and devastated during the janissary riots in the Ottoman era, it is still one of the main oxygen resources of Istanbul. Wooden banks and walking tracks are ideal for having a rest and finding peace. Returning from the wood, special observation terraces provide utmost pleasure to watch the view.

The oldest wooden seaside mansion of the Bosphorus…
Mansions cannot be left aside when we talk about Kanlıca. They have architectural structures belonging to different periods, and also interesting stories. Probably the most eye-catching one of them is Amcazade Hüseyin Pasha Mansion situated between Anadoluhisarı and Çubuklu. It is also known as “Köprülü Mansion” and believed to have been built in 1699. It is known to be the oldest wooden residence of the Bosphorus.

Going to Kanlıca from Anadoluhisarı, Hekimbaşı Salih Efendi Mansion will attract your attention with its asymmetrical structure and red paint. Being one of the oldest doctors of the Ottoman Empire, Salih Effendi owned this mansion in his time. It is one of the best examples of its type with three floors in the north, two floors in the middle and one floor in the south, composing an asymmetrical appearance.

And one sure has to mention Rukiye Sultan Mansion now. It was originally known as Vecihi Pasha Mansion. It was rebuilt at the end of the last century and took its current form with three floors. Placed in one of the most beautiful bays of the Bosphorus, the mansion has a wonderful view of the moon reflecting on the sea.

Without any doubt, it is also necessary to see the beauty of Kanlıca from the sea. Only in this way you can see the glory of many mansions hidden behind high walls. The elegant silhouette of the mansions and the green hill just behind them... If it is spring, then this sight adorned with redbud flowers is unprecedented.

No need for more words... Kanlıca is a must-see place. We are sure that once you visit there, Kanlıca will be your second address. 

Written by: Derya Atakan
In Istanbul
www.istanbul.com/inistanbul

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