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The Pink House

The story of the Mocan Yalı in Kuzguncuk

It is relatively old, decidedly large and incontrovertibly pink. Sultans stayed in it, Liszt played in it, and when it finds its new owner, it will become the last of the grand Istanbul waterfront houses to be parted for ever from the family it was built for. By Andrew Finkel. Photographs by David George

The wooden mansion, or yalı, on the Bosphorus goes by several names: Fethi Ahmet Paşa Yalısı (after the general and statesman who created the estate in the early 19th century), Şevket Mocan Yalısı (after the autocrat and eccentric politician whose two daughters now live in separate wings of the house), or simply the Pink Yalı, because the exterior is, after all, very, very pink.

For all the boldness of its façade, the house remains a private place. From the land it is virtually invisible. The coastal road on the Asian side of the Bosphorus skirts the crest of the hill, past a high boundary wall, so that the traffic passes unseen, level with the clay tile roof. Inside the garden, beside a pond adorned with classical statuary and level with the sea, only a few feet away, it is possible to wish away the city. Not very far, perhaps. Nearby Üsküdar is a transport hub where commuters race for ferries to the other side. But from the house, Istanbul is a skline. The Topkapı Palace appears hazily on the horizon. In crisper focus across the Bosphorus is the 19th-century palace of Dolmabahçe; Fethi Pasha was a principal in its construction and he and his descendants were to play a role in its European-style court…

This article is the sole published pictorial record of the interior of the Mocan Yalı before its demise – it was subsequently pulled down and rebuilt in concrete by the Toprak family, who bought it from the Mocan sisters.

To read the full article, purchase Issue 3

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Issue 3, 1992/93 The Pink House
£30.00 / $38.82 / €35.64
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Buy the issue
Issue 3, 1992/93 The Pink House
£30.00 / $38.82 / 1,279.92 TL
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