“With a Skewer (or a Swelling)”?

Journalist Maksud Sahbaz’s house designed by Leon Gurekian in late 19th century

Şişlı is a sprawling neighbourhood of central İstanbul north of Taksim Square with Halaskargazi Caddesi (Veteran Hero Street) running straight down the middle of it. The road eventually ends beside the Şişlı Cami where it mutates into Büyükdere Caddesi. Like Cumhuriyet Caddesi in Elmadağ, Halaskargazi Caddesi is home to a lot of fine 19th and early 20th-century architecture in a variety of styles but it tends to get overlooked not only because of the busy traffic but also because of the many shops and restaurants.

It was on Halaskargazi in front of the offices of the Agos newspaper that the Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was shot  dead in 2007.

Along Halaskargazi Caddesi

There are a couple of specific buildings to look out for as you progress along the road. The first is the baby-pink-painted building that houses the small Atatürk Museum (closed Sundays, admission free). Turkey’s first president lived in this house with his mother and sister for six months over the winter of 1918-19 that preceded the Turkish War of Independence. The museum owns a few of his personal effects but most of the exhibits are photographs labelled only in Turkish making a visit of rather specialist interest. (The street’s rather strange name is another nod of recognition towards Atatürk.)exarch

The second is the elegant Bulgarian Exarchate building in a rather romantically overgrown garden. This was originally intended to be the home of the patriarch of the newly independent Bulgarian Exarchate that had broken away from the control of the Greek Patriarchate in 1870. Its black and white pebble mosaic path is in a style usually thought of as Greek. (In Balat you can visit St Stephen of the Bulgars, the church associated with the Exarchate.)

You will need to divert off Halaskargazi Caddesi along Kücükbahçe Caddesi to find the Şişli Eftal Hastanesi, Turkey’s first children’s hospital. It was built in 1899 to a design by Raimondo d’Aronco with a minaret cunningly disguised as a clocktower and was intended as a memorial to Hatice Sultan, the daughter of Sultan Abdülhamid II, who died aged only seven months. sisliarm

Not far from the hospital on Dr Şevket Bey Sokak the Bozlu Art Project (closed Sundays and Mondays, admission free) is housed in a fine mansion designed by Giulio Mongeri in the 1920s.

As for the huge Şişli Cami, although built in the classic Sinan style it only dates back to 1849.

If you keep walking past the mosque towards Mecidiyeköy you will see on the right a Jewish Cemetery to which you will almost certainly be refused admission even though it contains some fine Art Nouveau gravestones, and an Armenian cemetery where visitors are far more welcome. Amongst those buried here is the sculptor Yervant Oskan (1855-1914), a friend of Osman Hamdi Bey who worked with him on the creation of the İstanbul Archaeological Museum.

Behind these two cemeteries on Halaskargazi Caddesi is a large Greek Orthodox cemetery that, with its grand monuments, might have stepped straight from Athens. Except for one strange quirk which is the trio of graves to three generations of priests called Papa Efrim who ran the so-called Turkish Orthodox Church and its two churches in Karaköy.

Sleeping

Holiday Inn. Tel: 0212-373 3800

İstanbul Marriott Hotel Şişli. Tel: 0212-375 0100

The Marmara Şişli. Tel: 0212-370 9400

Bozlu Art Project AKA the Mongeri Binası

Transport info

You can either get to Şişli on the Metro from Taksim or catch a bus along Halaskargazi Caddesi.

Nearby areas

Bomonti

Feriköy

Harbiye

Kurtuluş

Taksim Square

Painting in hall of Mongeri Binası thought to be by Belarussian artist, Lev Kar, who fled Bolshevik Revolution
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