Open up a world of Turkish inspiration with a Cornucopia digital subscription

Buy or gift a stand-alone digital subscription and get unlimited access to dozens of back issues for just £18.99 / $18.99 a year.

Please register at with your subscriber account number or contact

Buy a digital subscription Go to the Digital Edition


The Great Yalı of Zeki Pasha

Built as a glittering prize, then closed through war and exile, this flamboyant survivor is one of the last of the great waterfront mansions of the Bosphorus. A dense cloak of creeper enhances the house’s aura of mystery and romance. Patricia Daunt returns to the Bosphorus to reveal the story of the brilliant Zeki Pasha, army reformer and gifted linguist, and his stylish summer retreat. Photographs by Jean Marie del Moral and Simon Upton

  • The staircase winds up from the marble hall, dominated by a neoclassical urn

When the house was built in 1895, it was denounced as unorthodox and astonishing. Other than the imperial summer palaces, which by the middle of the nineteenth century were all built dressed in stone, plaisances on the Bosphorus were still traditionally constructed of wood. Zeki Pasha’s yalı is uniquely built of reinforced carbon-dust brick blocks, sealed together with conventional cement mortar to resemble four towering walls of crazy paving.

These earthquake-resistent façades are symmetrically decorated with a profusion of Renaissance plaster mouldings, fixed around a medley of balconies and windows on all five storeys. An observatory is hidden behind a neoclassical balustrade on the roof. The late-nineteenth-century Europeanness of this surprising building is, however, contradicted by a pair of enchanting Ottoman porches with overhanging eaves, seemingly pinned onto the corners of the western facade. Double staircases run up to them from the garden. The paradox is contrived, even eccentric.

The man responsible for the flamboyant ensemble which was the envy of late-nineteenth-century Istanbul was Zeki Pasha, one of Abdülhamid II’s most trusted and able soldier-statesmen.

To read the full article, purchase Issue 17

Buy the issue
Issue 17, 1999 The Republic
£12.00 / $15.50 / €14.24
Other Highlights from Cornucopia 17
  • The Republic

    Cornucopia celebrates Turkey’s 75th birthday with 40 pages of photographs by Ara Güler and John Brunton and articles by Norman Stone and David Barchard. It was the century of Turkey’s birth, of unprecedented peace and hard-won prosperity. In just 75years, Turkey has come a long way.

  • Diary of the Emerging Republic

    When, on that autumn day in 1923, the Turkish Republic was first proclaimed, its capital, Ankara, could hardly have looked less like the capital of a large country.

  • Headhunting

    The memoirs of Frederick Courtney Selous, naturalist, explorer and probably the greatest of all the African hunters of the nineteenth century, recall his hunting expeditions in Turkey. His book East and West: Sport and Travel has been translated into Turkish by Derin Türkömer, a passionate hunter himself, who describes his hero’s adventures

  • Silence of the Lammergeiers

    The towering peaks and rolling foothills of Turkey’s LakeDistrict simply take one’s breath away. Eğirdir, at the heart of Anatolia’s majestic Lake District and the midpoint of a triangle of mountains, is great trekking country.

  • The Family Brassica

    The Greeks and Romans, who appreciated cauliflower for its sobering effect, were particularly fond of the magnificent cauliflowers of Cyprus, with their tasty creamy-white florets.

More in the Guide
Buy the issue
Issue 17, 1999 The Republic
£12.00 / $15.50 / 512.95 TL
More Reading
Available from the Cornucopia Store
  • Kadiköylü

    Deniz Kizi Eftalya, chanteuse

    £ 9.00
Related Issues
Cornucopia Digital Subscription

The Digital Edition

Cornucopia works in partnership with the digital publishing platform Exact Editions to offer individual and institutional subscribers unlimited access to a searchable archive of fascinating back issues and every newly published issue. The digital edition of Cornucopia is available cross-platform on web, iOS and Android and offers a comprehensive search function, allowing the title’s cultural content to be delved into at the touch of a button.

Digital Subscription: £18.99 / $18.99 (1 year)

Subscribe now