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A small district located on European side, Kağıthane is surrounded by Şişli, Eyüp and Beyoğlu districts, and in the west the Kağıthane Stream merges with the Golden Horn. Even though many people are not aware of it, Kağıthane has a very rich history, which can be noticed by looking at the difference between old and new photographs and taking a better look at some of the history books.
Kağıthane, called Pissa at the time, was founded in the Byzantine period beside the Barbyzes Stream, known as the Kağıthane Stream today. When the Ottomans started to rule Istanbul, Kağıthane caught the attention of the Ottoman Sultans and quickly became a popular recreation area.
Kağıthane is famous for its role in the Tulip period of Ottoman Empire. The Tulip Era, the beginning of the Turkish renaissance, started in 1718 and finished in 1930 as a result of Patrona Halil Revolt. The Tulip Era was a peaceful period in which diplomatic relations with Europe expanded, cultural embassies opened and delegations of Europe were more freely assigned in Istanbul. Above all, the Tulip Period was important for many ground-breaking achievements. In social life, the ruler class of Ottomans started to flirt with European culture and the European entertainment style, clothing fashion, and moral came to Istanbul.
During the Tulip period Kağıthane became a very very important area. First, Grand Vizier İbrahim Paşa built the Sadabad Palace along the river for the Sultan. Following the Sadabad Palace, around 170 pavilions or palaces were built along the Kağıthane Stream in just 8 years. Many of the parks and gardens were decorated with tulips, and for the first time men and women started to mingle in daily life and the performing arts.
Entertainment was very important for the people. Men and women often dressed as Europeans and went from the Golden Horn to Kağıthane with small boats, called phaeton. Men and women walked together, enjoyed themselves at amusement parks and did many other things the general public didn’t accept at the time. This was mostly due to the fact that a lot of people were struggling financially in the Ottoman Empire at the time, and the Ottoman army suffered some Deafening defeats in the East. Finally, there was a rebellion against Tulip Period in 1730, led by Janissary soldier Patrona Halil. In the end, the Sultan was forced to forfeit the throne and Grand Vizier Ibrahim Paşa and his closest associates were put to death.
Kağıthane also took a toll from rebellion. All the beauty of Kağıthane, including the pavilions and the tulip gardens, was burned or blasted to pieces by an angry mob. Later Sultans had the Çağlayan and İmrahor Pavilions repaired but they wouldn’t last. In the 1940s these two historical structures were demolished in a single night by decree of the Turkish Government.
After 1940 Kağıthane was opened to industrial investments. Many companies, big and small, started to work in Kağıthane and consequently this district started to transform from a recreational area to an industrial area. It became a home for many migrants and members of the working class. In a short time a large number of illegal buildings were built, with the government purposefully looking the other way. Some say this building frenzy was allowed because having factories and workers was more important than anything else at the time. In conclusion, Kağıthane lost most of its historical features over time and is now only home to a concrete jungle.
Photo Credits: Kağıthane Municipality