Historical buildings in İstanbul are not only simple structures but are also witnesses of history who are never tired of telling us this history that hosts two empires and a modern republic. Historical buildings of this city are a reflection of the understanding of art, which has been a vital element of the daily life of İstanbul for millennia, which makes this beautiful city the art capital of Turkey. Not only being the centre of private sector and commerce, but the exceptional history makes İstanbul a unique attraction point for art.
Could you name any other city which has been the capital of two empires and still is the capital of private sector, production and daily life and still is the home of 16 million people? A settlement of millennia has inevitably left a heritage to its inhabitants in terms of art and culture. Considering the fact that art exists everywhere where humans inhabit, İstanbul is carrying the works of art coming from this unique history which is being reflected the historical buildings that have been spread all over the city.
Historical Buildings, Art of Empires
Founded by Roman Emperor Constantine The First in 337 A.C., the first settlement in İstanbul goes back to 6th millennium B.C., so does the cultural heritage and remains. Even the names of many districts have evolved according to this historical heritage of being the intersection of many different cultures, as well as the name of İstanbul itself, evolving from “Konstantiniye” which was originally Constatinapolis, as a tribute to its founder Emperor Constantine. For example, Cağaloğlu, which is a very prominent district hosting many historical buildings, hotels and even the Governer’s office is named after a commander of Ottoman Navy forces named Cığalızade Yusuf Sinan Paşa, who is actually born as the son of an Italian aristocrat, Count Cicala. Cığalizade Yusuf Paşa is also a very distinct example of the cultural harmony of İstanbul and Ottoman empire, who is also memorialized by speaking only 7 Turkish words and communicating in Italian. Kadıköy’s name has been evolved from Kingdom of Khalkedon, which was the first official settlement of the district, but first known settlement of which is known to be 9th century B.C. That is why it is no surprise to have various historical buildings in these old parts of the city
Historical Semi-island still has its original Roman city walls which guarded the city for more than a millennium until it has been conquered by Sultan Mehmet The Conqueror, who is also known to be a true intellectual historical figure who has respected art and artists during his reign far more than his contemporaries, successors and most of his predecessors.
Historical Buildings, Art in Architecture That Can Be Seen in a Ferry Ride
The historical buildings in İstanbul are surely not limited with such major buildings and palaces. There are maybe thousands of historical buildings under private ownership in both sides of Golden Horn, Historical Semi-Island and Bosporus Lane which are under the protection of the state and are officially considered as works of art. Private individuals and corporations are allowed to own such buildings with proper title deeds but are obligated to reserve the original outlook. There are two types of historical buildings according to state; first-degree historical monuments and second-degree historical monuments. All of these buildings are under the records of High Council Of Monuments with their architectural details. First-degree historical monuments are usually buildings such as palaces, historical baths, mosques, churches and synagogues, few of which are under private ownership and mostly being owned by Office Of Deputy Secretary-General Of National Palaces, some of which are leased to the private sector. Second-degree historical monuments are obligated to be reserved as they are in their façade, but can be modernised or furbished in a modern manner in the interior. Nevertheless, all refurbishments need to be approved by the High Council Of Monuments. At the end of the day, all of these buildings are considered to be works of art and cultural heritage of İstanbul that are carrying memories of not only centuries but millennia.
Historical Buildings, Art Covered with Concrete
It is an unfortunate fact that the developments in İstanbul have not been designed and constructed under strict urban planning or with loyalty to the city’s heritage over the last 50 years. Beginning with a simple copy and paste buildings since 1950’s, unplanned skyscrapers began to rise all over the city in the last 2 decades. Nevertheless, this cannot shade this beautiful city’s history and its witnesses, the historical buildings are monuments each of which all undeniably works of art.