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Kurtulus Istanbul

Kurtulus Istanbul

Location

The built up hilltop area of Kurtulus sits crammed between Nisantasi and Kasimpasa and was originally known as the old Tatavla, famous for its Lent Baklahorani Carnival, and the once large Greek and Armenian population that inhabited the area are evident from the gravestones in the cemeteries here. Kurtulus forms part of the borough of Sisli whose name in Turkish means “with a skewer” and comes from the fact that a mansion here once belonged to a family of skewer makers.  

History

Originally Kurtulus was a completely separate village sitting on a hilltop overlooking a forested gorge with a stream running along the bottom dividing it from Tarlabasi
Tatavla was established in the 16th century and also known as Aya Dimitri. Men seized from Greek Islands were forced to work in the navy or Ottoman shipyards at Kasimpasa and moved to the Kurtulus hilltop after their church in Kasimpasa was converted to a mosque. The piece of land they chose was once used as pastureland and the words “Ta Tavla” mean “The Stables” in Greek and from where the name Tatavla is derived.

At the village centre the church of Hagios Demetrios (Aya Dimitri) was founded in 1535 and in 1793 it was decreed by the Sultan that only Greek people could live here, a distinction that is shared with Ayvalik on the Aegean coast. The population grew quickly especially after an influx of residents arriving in 1821 from ransacked Fener. Tatavla went on to become renowned for its rowdy and somewhat debauched Lent festival with it many taverns and brothels along with transvestite dancers. In the 19th century the area was described as having a narrow minded community who lived in their privately owned homes surrounding the two churches of Hagios Georgios and Hagios Eleftherios and was a small piece of Greece in Turkey.  

Unfortunately in the early 20th century a huge fire destroyed many of the houses and it went on to be renamed Kurtulus which means “Salvation”.

Kurtulus Today

The now modern neighbourhood has a mixed community that includes Greeks and Armenians and houses the offices of the Armenian newspaper Agos. There is not much in the way of architectural beauty to be found here although there are some lovely late 19th century mansions in Pangalti and on Kurtulus Road (Caddesi).

Places to Visit in Kurtulus

Church of the Dodeka Apostoli (Twelve Apostles)
Church of Hagios Demetrios
Halaskargazi Road

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