On my way back from taking photos for my post on Turkish tombs I rediscovered the wonderful neighbourhood of Yeldegirmen Kadikoy. In the year since I last came here, the area has undergone a complete makeover. What were once sad run down buildings now glow with life and colour, reviving this serene little village suburb in the middle of the enormous Istanbul metropolis.
I began my adventures by heading up Iskele Sokak, starting at the waterfront and going all the way up the hill. Iskele means wharf so it would have originally lead to the ferries crossing over to the European side of the city. The street is lined by four and five story apartment blocks that would look at home in any European city. From early 20th century Italian influence design to examples of the Arts and Crafts movement influences, the area reflects its multicultural history.
What is now Osmangazi Primary School started life as a school for the children of the German architects and engineers who helped build the nearby Haydarpaşa Railway Station. It was built between 1902 and 1914. When the Germans left and the English controlled the city after World War I, it became an Ottoman English School in 1918. It changed purpose again in 1935 when it became the first college to be established in Turkey, and took its most recent name in 1950.
In 1894 the Oblates (Missionary sisters) of the Assumption came to Turkey from France. Assumptionists are an international congregation of Catholic religious clergy which has long been involved in education, the press, pilgrimages and missions. In 1895 they opened a school in the name of Saint Euphemie in Kadıköy (Chalcedon).
According to Christian tradition Saint Euphemie was martyred here in 303AD and her bones were placed in a golden sarcophagus inside a church. Her relics attracted crowds of pilgrims for centuries. In the 7th century her bones were transferred to Constantinople (present day Istanbul) but were believed to have been lost when they were thrown into the sea. However they were recovered and hidden until the Byzantine Empress Irene had them returned to the city in 796AD. After a fire in the 16th century the bones were moved from the sarcophagus and taken to the Patriarchal Church of Saint George where they remain today.
Today, the building that once housed the Saint Euphemie French Middle School for Girls and the Euphemie Notre Dame du Rosarie Catholic Church still stand. When it was operated by the nuns graduating students were sent to the branch of the Notre Dame de Sion School in nearby Moda. Now it operates as the Kemal Atatürk Middle School.
The beauty of Yeldegirman isn’t limited to Iskele Sokak. Round the corner and down the way a bit the Karakolhane streetscape has more delights to offer.
In 1895 a Greek school was erected on this spot, but when the Greek population grew a new school building was erected nearby and the school was relocated in 1918. In 1927 the old building was repaired and transformed into a church. It was rebuilt once more between 1958 and 1961 when a wooden structure was completed. For this reason the Ayios Yeorgios Greek Orthodox church is considered Istanbul’s newest and last completed Greek church.
If you’ve enjoyed this short tour of Yeldegirmen Kadikoy and want to learn more about Istanbul, particularly the Asian side of the city, add a copy of Inside Out In Istanbul: Making Sense of the City to your library.
If you enjoyed this post, check out my “Discover Istanbul” category in the Categories drop down menu on the right hand side towards the top of this page. I’m sure it’ll inspire to you to go exploring!