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 'Beyoğlu in the Nineteenth Century'". Translated by Aysu Dinçer. In Cities as Built and Lived Environments: Scholarship from Muslim Contexts, 1875 to 2011, by Aptin Khanbaghi. 154. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014.
Cezar,Mustafa. XIX. Yüzyıl Beyoğlusu. Istanbul: Akbank, 1991, 476pp.
Beyoğlu in the
Focused mainly on the nineteenth century, this book provides detailed
information on the history of Beyoğlu, a district formerly known as Pera.
Printed on paper of excellent quality, it holds rich visual material, including
numerous maps, plans and photographs. Each of the twelve chapters ends with a
notes section, and the work concludes with a six-page summary in English.
The author expresses his disappointment over the decline of Beyoğlu’s
cosmopolitan nature, criticising the political developments that caused its
non-Muslim population to dwindle. The book begins with an etymological
investigation into place- names, i.e. ‘Beyoğlu’ and ‘Pera’. The author then
goes on to describe the changes in the physical boundaries of the neighbourhood
through the centuries. He mentions the vital role played by the provision of
water in the formation of the neighbourhood and emphasises the fact that
Beyoğlu developed significantly during the time of the Ottoman reforms, namely
the closing decades of the eighteenth and throughout the nineteenth century. He
refers to Ottoman reforms again when he depicts the barracks and military
schools built in the neighbourhood.
Cezar describes not only Beyoğlu but also its surrounding
neighbourhoods, and provides information on issues such as the general
development of the population along with the social and cultural life of these
places. In addition, the book looks at changes in the demography of the area,
while highlighting factors that have made an impact on the social life of
Beyoğlu such as: foreign schools, transport (trams were in frequent use during
the nineteenth century), recreational spaces, shopping centres, arcades,
theatres and cinemas. Cezar presents detailed information on the history of
various mosques, churches and synagogues in the area. This is followed by a
detailed explanation of the architectural attributes (elements) of the
neighbourhood, also featuring examples of buildings that were damaged or
destroyed, which are supplemented with photographs. Ottoman palaces are also
examined in detail, especially when the author discusses the impact that the
transfer of the Ottoman court from Topkapı to Dolmabahçe palace had on the
Finally, the author describes political events that Beyoğlu has
witnessed: the military reforms, the Tanzimat reforms which influenced the
administrative, social and economic structures, the first Ottoman parliament,
the first constitutional monarchy and the transition into a republic.
Drawing on academic works in Turkish, French and English, and
supplemented by vibrant visual material, XIX. Yüzyıl Beyoğlusu is a rich
account of Beyoğlu’s history and a pleasurable read to those interested in
Istanbul. Given its wide ranging perspective, the book is also a valuable
contribution to existing research and studies on Istanbul.