Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

1296x0x A day on Divanyolu

Expand Messages
  • TRH
    Dec 4, 2005
      [See more at:
      http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/WhereToGo/Istanbul/Sights/Sultanahmet/DivanYolu.html ]

      x0x A day on Divanyolu


      The Divanyolu is the avenue connecting the Beyazit and
      Sultanahmet Squares. When he took the throne in 323,
      Constantine wanted to make Byzantium the new capital of
      Rome , and this is where he started, on the avenue then
      known as the Mese. This avenue, along which the emperor
      soon had walls, monuments, cisterns, palaces,
      hippodromes and the famous Cemberlitas or 'Hooped
      Column' (the Constantine monument) erected, took on a
      special significance with the addition of the Hagia
      Sophia, the splendid monument built by Justinian.

      The avenue, which became the 'Divanyolu' with the
      Turkish conquest of Istanbul , began to be adorned now
      with Ottoman monuments. In time the Ottoman and
      Byzantine structures learned to accommodate each other,
      holding their own against fires, earthquakes, and
      rebellions right up to the present-those still standing
      glad to be alive though filled with grief for the


      "How can stone buildings and wooden mansions feel
      grief?" you might ask. In his new book, 'Divanyolu',
      writer and cultural historian Besir Ayvazoglu makes
      history speak. In the book, in which Ayvazoglu relates
      the avenue's almost 2000-year history in his own
      original style, 'the stones come to life' and tell
      their own story. Amplified by old photographs and
      engravings, the book is a virtual biography of the
      Divanyolu. Ayvazoglu, who combines the traditionalism
      of Yahya Kemal, the modernism of Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar
      and the conservatism of Tarik Bugra in his writerly
      personality, opens the door onto the mysterious history
      of the Divanyolu, which is just waiting to be

      Stepping through this door, we set out one weekend with
      Besir Ayvazoglu on a brief journey back in time. Thanks
      to the writer, avenues and streets we had walked
      countless times before were suddenly permeated with
      enchantment. Ignoring the present-day condition of the
      buildings, we retreated with Ayvazoglu into the past,
      back to their periods of splendor. A far cry from 'dry
      history', the writer, using his imagination when
      necessary, took us on an engaging journey, shuttling
      back and forth between old and new. It was a journey
      filled with nostalgia and passion but mostly, to tell
      the truth, with sadness says Ayvazoglu, who
      deliberately chose this style for his book, "You have
      to use a different style, employ unusual language, if
      you want to get people to like history. In a sense I
      blended knowledge of history with literature." This
      writer, who imagines the buildings on the Divanyolu as
      thinking, feeling and talking creatures, occasionally
      puts himself in their places and tries to answer the
      question, "If this stone had been alive and conscious
      at the time of this incident, what would it have felt?"


      Our first stop on the Divanyolu is the Medrese of
      Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Pasha. We listen as Ayvazoglu
      tells the story-the gay hum of the pupils hard at their
      religious studies, tempered by the Pasha's bitter
      end-and continue on our way. Ayvazoglu tells us that
      the Divanyolu has been famous for its coffeehouses
      since time immemorial.

      A little nostalgic, a little sad, he says: "Those
      coffeehouses, principally the Tavukpazari, which once
      served the city's 'pleasure-seekers', are gone today."
      And he invites us to the Medrese of Corlulu Ali Pasha,
      which to some small degree still preserves the coffee
      tradition. We accept with pleasure. The conversation
      deepens as we sip our coffee and enjoy our hookahs at
      Corlulu. The past comes alive in the pipe's flame, and
      we perceive the difference between the writer's
      Divanyolu and today's avenue. How we have plundered our
      own history!


      But not everything Ayvazoglu recounts is sad, of
      course. The Divanyolu's ancient and magnificent past
      becomes the centrepiece of the conversation. With
      candor, as if he experienced it all himself, Ayvazoglu
      describes the days, both Byzantine and Ottoman, when
      the avenue was decked out like a bride. "I would truly
      have loved to see it bustling," he says, describing the
      procession of the Ottoman imperial army setting out on
      a campaign and the official cavalcades that once passed
      down this thoroughfare.

      His eyes light up as he recounts how the avenue was
      spruced up for imperial festivals and coronations. His
      is not merely 'a yearning for the aesthetic taste of
      the past, an interpretation of life styles and of the
      significant events in the avenue's history'. He also
      has recommendations for the future of the Divanyolu. In
      his photographs, taken with the eye of a documentarian,
      he offers the reader the historical facts woven
      together like a novel. He also takes a
      multi-dimensional view of the buildings, believing this
      is essential in order to color and enrich life, which
      modernity has rendered flat and unappealing. We will
      derive far more pleasure from life when we develop an
      awareness of the richness of the space we inhabit, he
      believes: "More than seeking the taste of the old, I
      want to live in a multi-dimensional time.


      When we stand in front of the Cemberlitas, the
      Divanyolu's 2000-year-old history seems suddenly to
      come alive. The conversation turns to Noah's ax, which
      is rumoured to be buried beneath the monument, the
      stone Moses turned into water, and the cross on which
      Jesus was crucified. When we reach the tomb of Sultan
      Mahmud II a short distance ahead, the writer says: "Let
      us go inside and see which sultans, military judges,
      thinkers and sultan's favorites rest here." So many
      people are laid to rest in the garden of this
      mausoleum! Besides Sultans Mahmud II, Abdulaziz and
      Abdulhamid II, they include numerous men of state and
      letters from Muallim Naci to Ziya Gokalp. As we leave
      the mausoleum and continue on our way, Ayvazoglu draws
      our attention to where the stately mansions and
      imperial palaces once stood that are gone today. When
      we reach the Sultanahmet tram stop, the Sultanahmet or
      Blue Mosque rises on our right, and in front of us the
      Hagia Sophia. Just ahead is the Yerebatan Cistern, one
      of the most enchanting places on the Divanyolu.

      According to the writer, these are Istanbul 's most
      mysterious spots.

      "Living on the Divanyolu is an opportunity, a privilege
      actually," says Ayvazoglu at the conclusion of our
      brief but most enjoyable tour.