Boundaries and Landmerks

To determine the precise boundaries of the sixteenth-century Kasap ƒlyas mahalle is an attempt both vain and impossible. The mahalles—or, rather, those that survived until the twentieth century—were officially assigned precise and artificial boundaries only in 1927.14 For centuries the Kasap ƒlyas mosque, the Davudpaœa complex, the hamam, the wharf, and the city ramparts bordering on the sea of Marmara were sufficient definitional landmarks.
There is nevertheless reason to suppose that the area and borders of the Kasap ƒlyas mahalle did not change to a very considerable extent during the last few centuries. To the west and to the east of it, the two neighboring mahalles (Sancaktar Hayrettin alias Bayezid-i Cedid, and Kürkçübaœı) have
always been the same. The southernly limits of Kasap ƒlyas were, then as now, naturally set by the city walls and by the sea of Marmara. To the north, there were two neighboring mahalles (Hubyar and Abacızade) in the sixteenth century but these had later disappeared and had been absorbed into
other northernly neighborhoods.
To sum up, Kasap ƒlyas extended, then as now, over a rectangular area, with the long sides of the rectangle being oriented approximately in the eastwest direction. Compared with the other intramural Istanbul mahalles, Kasap ƒlyas has never been a small neighborhood. In the nineteenth century, Istanbul neighborhoods usually covered an area ranging from one to five hectares.15
Kasap ƒlyas, toward the end of the nineteenth century, had a total area of no less than six hectares. Only a little more than half that area was effectively inhabited, though, and the Davud Paœa vegetable gardens took up the rest.
The streets of Istanbul received official names only in the 1860s. The people of Istanbul gave names to the more important streets before the nineteenth century, but nothing points to the existence of street names as early as the sixteenth century. There were no house or gate numbers either and the
modern construct of an “address” could not apply.
The truth is that none of the real estate property in Kasap ƒlyas set up as a pious foundation in the sixteenth century can now be located with any degree of precision within the mahalle. For in the deeds of trust, these properties were always described with reference to the nearest well-known land-
mark and to the names of the owners of the neighboring houses or property.
The landmarks most often used in the sixteenth-century Kasap ƒlyas mahalle were, besides its namesake mosque and the hamam, the city ramparts, the Davud Paœa gate on the same ramparts, and the wharf.


Istanbul is preparing to host the two-day 13th Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Summit next Thursday and Friday. According to a statement from the president's...