Istanbul’s Favorites: Cengelkoy and the Kuleli Military High School

Cengelkoy is a village of Istanbul preserving its historical structure, located on the Asian coast of Istanbul between Uskudar and Beykoz. “Cengelkoy” means hook village, the district is called this way because the hook was being produced for the ships in this district for long years during Ottoman era.

Cengelkoy has always been one of the most attractive villages of Istanbul with its fascinating nature, fresh air and picturesque view of Bosphorus. In the modern era, Cengelkoy is one of the few spots of Istanbul where the blue and green meet; the beautiful Bosphorus is surrounded by nice hills which are covered by forest. This variation in nature makes Bosphorus an attractive district for its residents and visitors.

The architecture in Cengelkoy also makes the village worth visiting. Most buildings are well-preserved of their historical structure, and some of the buildings are symbols of Istanbul. The historical buildings are used for various purposes as yali’s (waterside mansions), mosques, restaurants, shops and military barracks. Each of the buildings has its own past and history, and when walking around this region, you can understand the style that each building belongs to a different era.

Taste’n Travel: Historical Cengelkoy. Top: Port of Cengelkoy, Ottoman style houses in Cengelkoy, View of Bosphorus from Cengelkoy and Kuleli Kaymak Mustafa Pasha Camii
Taste’n Travel: Historical Cengelkoy. Top: Port of Cengelkoy, Ottoman style houses in Cengelkoy, View of Bosphorus from Cengelkoy and Kuleli Kaymak Mustafa Pasha Camii

History of Cengelkoy:

Cengelkoy has always been an important district since the ancient times. Cengelkoy is popular for its vineyards and orchards where various fruits and vegetables were grown and transported with boats to the city.

In the Byzantium times, Cengelkoy district was an important religious center of Constantinople. There were two churches and a monastery in this region called “Ayios Mihael Teotokos”. In the 6th century, Byzantine Empereor Justinien II has built a palace to Cengelkoy and named the palace as “Sophianae” after his late wife. Cengelkoy region and the port were also called Sophianae as the palace.

In Ottoman times (after the 15th century), Cengelkoy was a wealthy village with mixed with muli-cultural residents mostly from Turkish, Greek and Armenian. For Ottomans, Cengelkoy was alluring because of the royal gardens, of which “Kutelkasr” was the most popular royal garden in this region. Ottoman Sultans were regularly cvisiting this region to spend time in the gardens.

In the 18th and 19th century, there were many yali’s on the coast of Bosphorus belonged to wealthy families, as well as ministries (Pashas) and Ottoman royal family members. In the 19th century, transportation to Cengelkoy facilitated with the start of fairy journeys from the city center (historical semi-island).

Nowadays Cengelkoy is still a popular town of Istanbul where have grown from the seaside to hills. As you climb to hills, some Turkish houses with typical Ottoman style. The preserved historical buildings are Kuleli Military High School, Kaymak Mustafa Pasha Mosque, Hamdullah Pasha Mosque, Cengelkoy Ayios Yorgios Othodoks Church, Hatice Sultan Mansion (yali).

Kuleli Military High School:

Kuleli Military High School is one of the most famous buildings in Istanbul and is located in the seaside between Cengelkoy and Vanikoy. Kuleli is often called “The Pearl of Bosphorous” because of it precious view from the European side of Istanbul. Kuleli faces Bosphorus from the from front and faces the hills, groves, and forest from the other side. The architecture of Kuleli is a typical Ottoman barrack style building.

Taste’n Travel: Historical Cengelkoy; Kuleli Military High School
Taste’n Travel: Historical Cengelkoy; Kuleli Military High School

“Kuleli” means tower in Turkish. Its name has a long story starting from the Byzantium times. The name comes from a tower which was formerly located in the garden of this area. Before the 15th century when Ottomans conquered Istanbul, there was a monastery on this area with a beautiful tower.

In the Ottoman times, the monastery and the other surrounding buildings were being used as a military barrack since Sultan Mehmed II conquered Istanbul. Cengelkoy should have been attracted Suleyman the Magnificent that he had constructed a royal mansion with a beautiful garden (Kasr or Qasr) to this area in the 16th century. The tower from the Byzantium times was preserved and called the mansion “Cihannuma or Kule Kasri”. Both cihannuma and kule mean tower, the former name comes from Farsi while the latter comes from Turkish.

Evliya Celebi was a famous traveller from the 16th century, and he described Kule Kasri as “There were many chambers in this mansion, with a fountain on each floor of the Kasr”. Kuleli mansion had been a famous region for Sultans until it was demolished in the 19th century. Kule Kasri was the favorite hunting mansion of Suleyman the Magnificient, Sultan Murad IV, and Sultan Mehmed IV. The Sultans visited this district not only for hunting but also enjoying the delicious fruits and vegetables that was grown in the royal gardens.

During the era of Sultan Ahmet III (1808), Kuleli Mansion and the tower was demolished, and one-floor military barrack was constructed in this area. The barracks were settled by the Ottoman soldiers for ten years. The second floor was constructed in 1844.

In 1854, Kuleli Barracks were allocated and formed as a hospital for British and French soldiers to serve the ones that were injured in the Crimean (Kirim) War. In 1856, the Kuleli Barracks were burned down by a massive fire during the time while British soldiers were evacuating the building. This fire destroyed the entire Kuleli Barracks.

Kuleli Barracks were completely rebuilt after the fire. A famous architect, called Garabeld Amira Balyan, planned the architect of a new Kuleli building in “Rokoko Style”. He also planned the architect of Dolmabahce Palace. The building has been preserved as it was constructed a hundred years ago. The towers were also added as symbolic years later in 1967 by the Turkish Republic.

Since 1924, Kuleli building is has been used as a military high school except for the Second World War era. In those years, Kuleli was temporarily transformed into a 1000-bed hospital. Nowadays, Kuleli is standing with all its beauty facing Bosphorus. The best way to photograph Kuleli building would be from a boat. Bosporus Tour boat journeys have a good to see and experience Bosporus buildings. Click on this website to learn more about it.

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