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CİBALİ

cibali2Church of Hagios NikolaosCibali is the area immediately to the west of the Atatürk Bridge across the Golden Horn on its southern side. It's also known as Unkapanı, a name that probably contains an echo of the wheat (un) that was once offloaded here.

The bridge, put up in 1940, is no great beauty but does provide quick access to Azapkapı on the far side. 

Cibali's water-facing side is completely dominated by the huge stone building that was once the Cibali Tobacco Factory and is now the Kadir Has University which contains a small museum and art gallery. Behind it are a few minor Ottoman monuments but the other main thing to come here for is the large Gül Cami that was originally the Byzantine Church of St Theodosia. 

On a sunny day strolling along the waterside path and looking across to the monuments of the northern shore of the Golden Horn is a particular joy. 

The main road along the waterfront used to be named after the Turkish military leader, Abdülezel Paşa (1827-97), but has now been renamed in memory of the industrialist, Kadir Has (1921-2007), founder of the Akbank. 

Around Cibali

Just to the west of the bridge stands the tobacco factory that was erected in 1884, nationalized in 1925 and finally closed down in 1995.In 2002 it reopened as a private university. Old photographs on the walls of the cafe show the factory in its heyday when, rather like Kapalı Çarşı (Grand Bazaar), it was a world within a world with its own shops, cafes, hospital and even police force.

If you're interested in local archaeology you may want to pop inside to visit the small but well presented Rezan Has Museum (admission free) that showcases finds from the Neolithic to Selçuk periods in the remains of 11th-century cistern and a 17th-century hamam. You'll need your passport to get in. You will usually be able to grab an exhibition in the hall immediately above the museum.

Immediately beyond the university you start to see shattered, soot-blackened fragments of the old Byzantine Sea Walls. The Cibali Gate (Cibalikapı) that leads through it is said to have been hand-carved on the day of the Conquest of Constntinople in 1453 by a man called Cebe Ali after whom the suburb was then named. His tomb can still be seen here.cibaligate

Near the Gate - and easier to spot from across the road - is the early 19th-century Greek Orthodox Church of Hagios Nikolaos. It was built right up against the old walls. Inside a courtyard offers access to the church itself and to an ayazma dedicated to St Haralambos. A decorative model ship hanging in the narthex will have been left there as a thank-you from a mariner grateful to be safely home again. 

cibalishipShip hanging in narthex of Hagios NikolaosIf you go through the Gate, turn left and walk behind the old factory you will come to the garden tomb of the 16th-century mystic, Emir Ahmed Buharı, which still receives a lot of pilgrims.  Beyond it is the 18th-century Şazeli Tekke Cami, once home to a dervish order. 

If instead you walk straight ahead from the gate and then turn left you should come to the Byzantine Gül Cami.

The Gül Cami (Rose Mosque) probably started life in the 10th century as the Church of St Theodosia whose feast day was 29 May, the very day on which it became obvious that Constantinople would not be able to hold out against the forces of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror. In their fear, the city’s Greek inhabitants flocked to the church and filled it with roses as they prayed to the saint for salvation. When the Ottomans rode up to the church they found the flowers still in place, hence the name they gave it when they converted it into a mosque.cibali8Gül Cami & Küçük Mustafa Paşa Hamamı

Continuing along the coast road you will come to Küçük Mustafa Paşa where a huge hole was bashed through the Sea Walls to allow access to the road running uphill to Fatih and Çarşamba. Near here stand the battered relics of the large Küçük Mustafa Paşa Hamamı, still awaiting renovation. It is believed to date back to the early 16th century.

Eating

Enstitü

Lunch-time menus change daily at this excellent café attached to the Istanbul Culinary Institute cookery school now housed in the Kadir Has University. Prices are keen, the Modern Turkish food delicious. 

Tel: 0212-251 2214


Transport info

Frequent buses run along the southern shore of the Golden Horn from Eminönü passing through Cibali.

Nearby areas

Atatürk Bulvarı

Balat

Çarşamba

Eminönü

Fatih

Fener

Küçükpazarı

Tahtakale

Zeyrek

cibali4Relic of earlier Byzantine church in Hagios Nikolaos

 

 
 

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