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OKMEYDANI

"Arrow Square"

okmeydan1Generally speaking, Okmeydanı is not somewhere a tourist would want to go. Inland from the Golden Horn beyond Kasımpaşa, it's one of those messy suburbs that grew up fast and without planning in the 1950s so that its public face is of little more than flyovers and concrete sprawl.

But now it has become home to a rather unexpected new development.

Over the last few years the Turkish government has been overseeing the rebuilding of many of the tekkes, dervish lodges that were closed down by Atatürk in the 1930s. In most cases this merely means that once lost places of worship are reappearing in their old homes. But tekke could apparently also mean a training ground for military sports. Accordingly the tekke at Okmeydanı was originally used as a training ground for archers for six months of the year.

Now the entire Tirendazlar-Okçular Tekkesi complex has been rebuilt with a small mosque embedded in a complex of administrative buildngs but with an archery range attached to it. From the glass windows of the cafe it's possible to watch people once again learning a sport in which several of the sultans were once experts. Eventually an archery museum is also planned for the site. Already you can see one of the memorial stones erected to mark one of the sultan's longest shots.

Buses to Okmeydanı don't pass the complex. However, they do terminate near one of the few other interesting buidings in the area, the Darülaceze ("home for the weak" in Arabic), a retirement home that was founded by Sultan Abdülhamid II in 1895 to cater for indigent Muslims, Christians and Jews together. Today almost all its inhabitants are Muslim but there is still a chapel and a synagogue on the premises as well as a mescid. 

Okmeydanı has a large Alevi population and a reputation for left-wing politics. Unfortunately in 2014 it became caught up in anti-government rioting resulting in several deaths. If you do decide to visit it's probably wise to stay away from an large demonstration. 

Backstory

Despite stories linking the Okmeydanı area to the lead-up to and follow-on from the Conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the Okçular Tekkesi complex is actually only believed to date back to the end of the 15th or early 16th century (signs at the site date it to 1480). It is known that a small mosque on the site was restored in 1625 although it is not clear when it had been built. At the same time a barracks was added to the complex. Repairs were regularly made over the course of the next two centuries including in 1720 during the reign of Sultan Ahmed III. Further repairs were made in 1819 during the reign of Sultan Mahmud II.

From the 1950s onwards the site of the old archery range vanished beneath a sea of gecekondus (slums) with some of its stones reused as building materials. okmeydan2

Transport info

The complex can easily be reached using the Şişhane-Şişli dolmuş that leaves from beside the Kasımpaşa exit of the Şişhane Metro station. DON'T take an Okmeydanı bus as that goes nowhere near the site. 

Nearby areas

Kasımpaşa

Şishane

Şişli

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