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x0x A jewel of the Bosphorus Kucuksu Kasir

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  • TRH
    [See the following for more: http://dunyaturk.com/tr23/kemal_bereket_kucuksu_KASRI_denizdenn.jpg http://dunyaturk.com/tr13/kemal_bereket_kucuksu_kasri14.jpg
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 27, 2005
      [See the following for more:

      Change the numeral "14" in the above link to 1, 2 etc. and see more photos.]

      x0x A jewel of the Bosphorus Kucuksu Kasir

      By Ali Konyali

      The winding Bosphorus strait lends legendary beauty to
      the city of Istanbul, with its hidden bays, hilly
      shores sprinkled with woods and gardens, and
      picturesque waterfront buildings. People have responded
      to its irresistible charm with countless poems and
      songs, celebrations, romantic meals, love stories and
      sweet memories. We are not all fortunate enough to live
      on the shores of the Bosphorus but the rest of us can
      at least enjoy outings there. These are quite different
      from visiting any other part of the city, since on the
      Bosphorus waterway nature and city are intertwined in
      an eternal dance. Here arose a culture and way of life
      with its own distinctive identity reflected in the
      traditional architecture, which is as much part of the
      magical Bosphorus scenery as the Judas trees with their
      purplish pink blossom. Waterfront houses, palaces and
      pavilions made of stone and wood gaze tranquilly at
      their own reflections in the blue water, creating a
      landscape in which nature and human beings have worked
      hand in hand.

      Music was an important part of life on the Bosphorus in
      Ottoman times, particularly on moonlit summer nights
      when boating parties were got up among friends.
      Accompanied by musicians or singing and playing
      themselves, their voices and melodies echoing across
      the water were inspired by the natural symphony of the
      Bosphorus. The Bosphorus was also famous for its parks
      and meadows where people took excursions in fine
      weather. Such outings went far beyond merely taking
      fresh air and picknicking, but were festive occasions
      where the elegantly dressed parties were entertained by
      musicians and dancers. One of the most popular of these
      excursion places was the valley known as Goksu or
      Kucuksu (after the two rivers between which it lay) on
      the Asian shore. The Austrian historian Hammer, writing
      in the early 19th century, declared that 'Kucuksu is
      more extensive and lovelier than the heaven-like
      foothills of Kahlenberg in Vienn.

      The 17th century Ottoman writer Evliya celebi writes of
      the River Goksu: 'This is a river like the fount of
      life, pouring down from the Alem Mountains through
      vineyards adorned by high trees on either bank. Over
      the river is a wooden bridge. Friends row up the river
      in caiques to the villages beyond and delight in one
      anoth'sss company and conversation beneath the trees.'
      The Ottoman sultans were as enamoured of Kucuksu as
      their subjects, and built several pleasure pavilions
      here over the centuries. Part of the valley was a royal
      estate from the 16th century onwards, and it was here
      that Sultan Mahmud I (1730-1754) built a wooden
      pavilion set in gardens whose ornamental pools and
      fountains were supplied with water channelled from the
      hills behind. Since the wooden pavilion required
      frequent repairs, Sultan Abdulmecid (1839-1861) had it
      demolished and a magnificent stone kasir or summer
      palace built in its place.

      Flowers overflowing from vases, rosettes and garlands
      compete for space on the elaborate facade, that seems
      engaged in an eager scramble to fit in all the plants
      and trees of its setting. The sculpted swans of the
      fountain also reflect the fashionable exuberance of
      baroque and rococo style. This splendid miniature
      palace covers an area of just 15 by 27 m, and consists
      of a basement, ground and upper storeys. Instead of the
      high thick walls which surround other Ottoman palaces,
      here there is a graceful railing with gates in each of
      the four sides. Clearly the unique atmosphere of the
      Bosphorus has imposed its own aesthetics, sweeping
      aside considerations of security and privacy that
      traditionally mark palace architecture. In the basement
      is a larder, kitchen and servants quarters, while the
      main storeys each consist of a central room known as a
      sofa extending in bays between the rooms at each of the
      four corners of the building. There are two entrances
      to Kucuksu Kasir, one in the landward facade and one
      facing the Bosphorus.

      A double staircase whose sweeping curves join at the
      landing links the ground to the first floor, and here
      again we see the elaborate style of decoration
      fashionable at the time displayed on the bannisters in
      particular. The corner rooms facing the sea each have
      two fireplaces and those at the back one. The
      fireplaces are carved from Italian marble of different
      colours and different designs in each room. The palace
      was intended only for use when the sultan made
      excursions to Kucuksu, and was probably rarely if ever
      used for overnight stays, but only to enjoy days and
      evenings in this beautiful spot. At a time when
      insensitive new architecture is spreading like a rash
      across the Bosphorus hills, Kucuksu Kasir seems to have
      withdrawn into memories of the past, murmuring a
      nostalgic Bosphorus song.

      * Ali Konyali is a photographer and cultural researcher
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