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Our second excursion (in the second semester of 2023-2024) (Prof. Suraiya Faroqhi)


Dear students and Dear Members of Our University,

My greetings to all of you!

I send you this message as the academic advisor of the History and Archeology Club at Ibn Haldun University. We are planning the second excursion (or the third, if we count the non-event of March). On 27 April, we will visit the Divanyolu inşallah, the commercial and ceremonial heart of Ottoman Istanbul. If everything works out, we will select some of the sites listed below. We cannot possibly visit them all because of the limited amount of time at our disposal. Put differently, I think that most of us do not have the energy one would need to visit all the major buildings in the Divanyolu complex. Moreover, often we will find that a site that we would have liked to visit happens to be closed; but as there are always alternatives available, we will never get bored!

The event will begin at 11 am inşallah and end at 2 or 2.30 pm: it all depends on our energy! We begin our wanderings on the Atmeydanı, of which we did not see very much last semester because of the awful weather. We will meet in front of the obelisk of Theodosius.

After taking a quick look, we cross the street to the water tower and the Milion, which in Byzantine times was the site people used as a standard if they wanted to express the distance of provincial towns from the imperial capital. Next to the Milion, archeologists recently have excavated part of the late antique street network – I hope that it will still be visible when we get there (excavation sites are often closed after a couple of weeks or months).

Our next stop will be the Köprülü foundation, which dates to the later 1600s and includes the first free-standing library built in Istanbul. If the administrators allow us to enter, we will visit the courtyard and the mausoleums of Mehmed Köprülü and members of his family.  On the other side of Divanyolu, we will see the Vezir Hanı, which is still in use by artisans and business people. In this area we will take note of Tanzimat urbanism, which includes the square now surrounding Çemberlitaş. We will spend some time at the Nuruosmaniye Mosque, which shows that when it came to the ‘post-classical’ period, Ottoman architects did not mindlessly stick to tradition but developed any number of new ideas.

After that visit, we enter the Kapalıçarşı and find the two bedestans. These structures go back to the Fatih period, while the remainder of the Kapalıçarşı dates to the 1700s, 1800s and 1900s. The older shops outside the bedestans have burnt down in the many fires that devastated the area. Once we are out of the Kapalıçarşı, we have two options: we can check out the Bayezid National Library, which occupies the imaret building of the vakıf of Bayezid II. If we prefer to stay outdoors, we can instead enter the garden of the Rektörlük of Istanbul University, recently made accessible, and look at some ‘eclectic’ architecture, which was in fashion during the later 1800s. We will then end our walk with a visit to the Hamam Museum, which is rather large; it occupies the hamam of the Bayezid foundation. If the museum is closed (a distinct possibility) we will see the Laleli Mosque instead; and we may even prefer to go there if the Museum is open. Take care and see you on Saturday!

Greetings and good wishes,