Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey, was the capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires. The Bosphorus straits divides the city into a part that sits on the European continent, and a larger part on the continent of Asia. The militarily and economically strategic position of the city, on the western portion of the Silk Road, and on the shipping route between the Aegean and Black Seas, has kept it cosmopolitan and prosperous since its foundation 660 BCE, when it was called Byzantium. In 330 it became Constantinople, the capital of the Roman Empire, named for Emperor Constantine the Great. The Ottomans conquered the city in 1453/857 AH and renamed the city Istanbul. It served as their capital until Ankara became the capital of the modern nation of Turkey.
Tansuğ, Feryal. '"English abstract of 'A Journey in Time: Beyoğlu'". Translated by Aysu Dincer. In Cities as Built and Lived Environments: Scholarship from Muslim Contexts, 1875 to 2011, by Aptin Khanbaghi. 28. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014.
Büyükünal, Feriha. Bir Zaman Tüneli, Beyoğlu. İstanbul: Doğan Kitap, 2006, 214pp.
A Journey in Time: Beyoğlu
Bir Zaman Tüneli, Beyoğlu
This is a work of popular history by an author who is not a professional historian but a native of Istanbul, who aims to shed light on the social and cultural history of Beyoğlu by utilising memoirs and secondary sources. It is a compilation of the author’s essays previously published in the journal Sanat Çevresi. She emphasises the cosmopolitan nature of Beyoğlu in her narrative and investigates under separate headings the various communities, such as the Armenians, Jews and White Russians, who arrived in Istanbul in the 1900s. The book demonstrates that by accumulating wealth in economic terms and developing educational systems and printing press facilities, the Armenians, Greeks, Jews and other Levantines became Beyoğlu’s first bourgeoisie and acted as the focal point of its social and cultural life.
The author provides information on the traditions and customs of each community and mentions their harmonious relationships with the Turks. While she does not explore the Greeks, who were one of Beyoğlu’s main communities, under a separate heading, she provides detailed information on their customs and lives, and talks about their good relationships and integrated lives with the Turks.
At times, the author refers to her own memories. She mentions Beyoğlu’s religious spaces, outstanding buildings, arcades, shops, hotels, cafes, patisseries and taverns, giving information on those that are still functioning – such as Rejans, Abdullah Efendi Restaurant, Markiz and Lebon, Nüsuaz and Petrogard. She also talks about famous artists and intellectuals – such as Said Naum Duhani, Cahide Sonku, Cahit Burak and Vitali Hakko – mentioning their relations with the quarter and giving information on their lives. She describes the unsightly urban sprawl that Istanbul has been experiencing since the 1950s and emphasises the role the ‘Society for Saving Beyoğlu’ plays in protecting old Beyoğlu buildings and stopping uncontrolled urban expansion. The books utilises reliable secondary sources and as a work of popular history on Beyoğlu, it has its merits.