“Axe Harbour”

The upmarket Bosphorus suburb of Baltalımanı is named after Kaptan–ı Derya Baltaoğlu Süleyman Bey, a 15th-century admiral who took his nickname (“Son of the Axe”) from the fact that he was one of the men responsible for the felling of trees required to provide the ships needed for Sultan Mehmed II’s successful assault on Constantinople in 1453. Today it remains a busy but leafy place, the leaves associated these days with spring-time wisteria and Judas and cherry trees.

The one specific attraction here is the Japanese Peace Garden established in 2003 in a twinning arrangement with the port-city of Shimonoseki. It’s a peaceful oasis beside the busy road junction leading inland to Levent best visited in spring in the few days when the cherry trees blossom in a burst of glorious pink.

Otherwise the most striking monument here is the pink-painted building housing the Metin Sabancı Osteopathic Training and Research Hospital that was once a palace of the nobility. This was  originally designed by Sarkis Balyan for the grand vizier Mustafa Reşid Paşa (1800-58) who is associated with the reforming movement known as Tanzımat, and became home to his son Galip Paşa and his wife Fatma, a daughter of Sultan Abdülmecid I. When Fatma died it passed to her sister, Mediha, who was married to Damad Ferid Paşa (1853-1923). It was here that the Baltalımanı Agreements were drawn up in 1838 to facilitate trade for the British, French, Russians and Belgians, a decision said to have sparked a mini economic boom. 

Damad Ferid Paşa had a great library that was auctioned off and lost after his death. The palace was then abandoned to its fate until being taken over by the Fisheries Institute and then by the Ministry of Health which converted the haremlik into a hospital while the selamlık was occupied by the social sciences department of İstanbul University. Across the road ruined walls buried beneath foliage survive from the palace’s ancillary buildings that were cut off by the creation of the coast road.

A pleasant walk from Baltalımanı to Rumeli Hisarı and Bebek along the coast road takes you under the Second Bosphorus Bridge/ Fatih Sultan Mehmet Köprüsu. On the Bebek side of it you will pass a hefty stone yalı designed by Alexandre Vallaury in 1899 for Tophane Müşiri Zeki Paşa (1849-1914), the manager in charge of the Arsenal in Tophane for many years. After his death it was owned by Sabiha Sultan, a daughter of Sultan Mehmed VI, and her husband, Ömer Faruk Efendi, a son of the last caliph, Abdülmecid Efendi, until they were exiled after coming of the Republic. It ended up in the ownership of Meliha Baştımar, a grand-daughter of Gazi Osman Paşa. Despite its position under the bridge, it is regarded as one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in the city. 

Transport info

You can easily walk from Bebek to Baltılımanı or catch any bus heading along the coast road towards Sarıyer. Minibuses from 4.Levent Metro will drop you off right beside the Japanese garden. 

Nearby areas


Rumeli Hisarı


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