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Aşiyan Cemetery

Rumeli Hisarı, Istanbul, Turkey

As you approach Rumelihisarı on the coast road from Bebek, take the road half left at the traffic lights, up the steep lane that runs behind the fortress (Aşiyan Yolu). You will find the main entrance to the cemetery immediately on your right. Further up on your left is an even steeper lane that leads to Tevfik Fikret’s house.

Many renowned intellectuals, writers and artists are buried at this cemetery including the poet Tevfik Fikret (1867–1915), whose 1906 house, on a bluff just above it, has been preserved as a literary museum.

The cemetery is also the burial place of the best-loved poet Yahya Kemal Beyatlı (1884–1958), the renowned novelist Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar (1901–1962), the painter Avni Arbaş (1919–2003) and the Ottoman military leader and governor of Medina, Ömer Fahreddin Pasha (1868–1948), among others. You can reach the top of the cemetery and the towers of Rumelihisarı by following the road, Aşiyan Yolu, to the top of the hill, where there is a modest gate.

The panoramic views of Anadoluhisarı opposite and all the way down to Beylerbeyi, are glorious. A place to take a sandwich on a bright spring day.

Cornucopia 52

Village Bosphorus: the European shore

On paper, the road up the European shore would appear to be one of the great waterside drives. But in practice few ever attempt the 17 miles from downtown Karaköy to rural Rumelikavağı – the point where the road loops inland for another five miles to reach the entrance to the Black Sea.

One reason, apart from the traffic, is that Istanbul residents think of the Bosphorus as a series of disconnected communities rather than a joined-up whole. It is only since the Second World War that there has been a coastal road at all – the final stretch having been built in the 1980s as an embankment on pylons, a cheap artery through the city that did not require great sums to appropriate private land. In places such as Arnavutköy, on the European side, the road actually severs the shoreline houses from the water.

Another reason why few attempt the road trip, although there are lots of buses, is that for long stretches you can’t actually see the Bosphorus. Many yalıs, the stately summer homes of the Ottoman Empire, are tucked below the road, and others have high walls between the road and what was, after all, the servants’ entrance at the back.

Obviously, the best way to appreciate the Bosphorus is to travel by boat. The yalıs are themselves worth a detour, as they show their best face to the water. There are ample ways to do this, with companies running boats you can jump on and off like an inner-city bus.

Kuruçeşme to Rumelihisarı: Setting sail
The first half of our journey up the European shore takes in the villages between the two bridges. Setting out from Kuruçeşme, sadly bereft of its beautiful yalis, we head upstream via arty Arnavutköy and smart Bebek to the pavement buzz of Rumelihisari

Baltalimanı to Sarıyer: Bound for the Black Sea
From the genteel old-money districts of Baltalimani and Emirgan, head north for the stately yalis and café society of Yeniköy, then the faded grandeur of Tarabya and Büyükdere and the gritty trawler town of Sarıyer

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Issue 66, December 2023 Turkey’s Centenary Issue
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