The Çamlıca of Literature

Despite the fact that in the past 30 years it has been conquered and devoured by the city, Çamlıca and its surroundings, which has been perceived as heaven on earth by its early residents, has been glamourised with elegant mansions and manor houses, and its hills still look out into the horizons in an upright manner with the beauties of nature where the Istanbulians can breathe in the fresh atmosphere.
During the 19th century, Çamlıca, which was also popular amongst the western travellers, did not have any buildings apart from the few hunting mansions that had been built for various sultans. After the area was discovered by the members of the royalty and noblemen during the era of Mahmud II, it was turned into a summer resort and a famous location in Istanbul. Mahmud II, who had written the poem that states, “And let us go to Çamlıca tomorrow my Beloved”, used to frequent Çamlıca while his sister Esma Sultan, rested at the palace in Kısıklı. He had also passed away in this palace that he had been brought to when he had fallen ill. The poets and authors of the Reform Era had a peculiar interest in Çamlıca. In his writing titled The Three Hills, Yahya Kemal has stated the following words: “It is the hill where Namık Kemal and his friends Hamid, Ekrem, Sezai and the others had watched the world fifty years earlier. In their works, we feel the breeze of Çamlıca, and feel them listening to the nightingales in the gardens of Çamlıca while their accents are as deep, ruined and desolated like the vizier mansions of that suburb”. In his novel titled Intibah (Rebirth) (1876), Namık Kemal begins his story with a long description of Çamlıca as he speaks of the fact that all the beauties of Istanbul can be observed from Çamlıca only and that there is absolutely no corner in Istanbul and the Bosphorus that is invisible to the eye from this point. According to Namık Kemal, Çamlıca is such a hill that one observes the thousands of natural, industrial and scientific beauties that form a completely different world and one’s
pupils masterfully accomodates a map of beauty within it. Once you lower your glance, you will observe a different flower or fruit every second just like a honey bee in a garden and you will languish by the time your sight reaches the seaside. Çamlıca is like a piece of heaven that has descended down to earth; If Allah had wanted to create eternal waters on earth, there is no doubt that He would have put it within the waters of Çamlıca. Namık Kemal, who had watched the sunrise at Çamlıca, had felt as though rains of souls instead of light precipitated down, and he used to mostly visit the patron of the young Turks, the Egyptian Prince Mustafa Fazil Pasha. The glamourous mansion of the
Pasha located across the Millet Park was one of the venues that were frequented by the poets and authors of the Reform Era. Ali Bey, the protagonist of the novel Intibah, had encountered and fallen in love with Mahpeyker during a Çamlıca visit. So was the case with Bihruz Bey in the novel titled Love of Cars (1896), written by Recaizade Mahmud Ekrem who had moved to Çamlıca solely to be closer to
his close friends Sami Pashazade Sezai and Abdulhak Hamid. In the story, he encounters and falls in love with a beautiful blonde girl while driving in his elegant car in Çamlıca. Her name is Periveş and is a woman enduring hard times.
namik kemal
One of the neighbours of Abdurrahman Sami Pasha, who was residing in a 40-room mansion in Büyük Çamlıca, was Hayrullah Efendi, the son of doctor Behçet Efendi. The sons and grandchildren of Sami Pasha were close friends with the sons of Hayrullah Efendi, particularly with Abdulhak Hamid. Sami Pasha, who was an official at the Ministry of Education during the Reform Era, was a bureaucrat with high intellectual capacity and an educator and had taught Sheikh Sadi of Shiraz’s work Gulistan (Rose Garden) to Hamid and his children. The unshakeable friendship of Sezai and Hamid, despite an eight years difference in age, had begun during those days. They would together climb the hills during the early hours of the day to watch the sunrise and listen to the sounds of nightingales at night. In a letter written to him by Hamid, he states: “Çamlıca is the mother of our poetic thoughts”. While in another line he states, “Çamlıca is the most beautiful hill in our city”. After many
long years Abdulhak Hamid, the author of the masnawi titled Garam (Love), which takes place in Çamlıca, visits Çamlıca and once he sees the Sami Pasha Mansion in ruins – an area that he had spent many of his great days – feels a strong sense of sorrow and writes his poems titled Promenades of the Past. The mansion of Abdullatif Suphi Pasha, who was one of the sons of Sami Pasha and one of the prominent government officials of the Reform Era, was located in Küçük Çamlıca. His eldest son, Ayetullah Bey, was amongst the founders of the New Ottomans Society that was presided over by Mustafa Fazil Pasha. While his youngest son, Hamdullah Suphi Tanrıöver, who had
spent his childhood and youth years in Çamlıca, was the legendary leader of the Turkish Hearths. Sami Pashazade Sezai has a story titled A Summer Night that was most probably written at the end of 1924 and published in the Servet-i Funun (Arts and Sciences Journal) during August of 1925. Osman Pasha, who is in his 60s, speaks about old and new literature with his son Nail, who is a 22 year old new graduate of Law, while driving to their mansion in Çamlıca. During this time, the author provides a thorough description of the trip between Üsküdar and Çamlıca. In Abdulhak Şinasi Hisar’s novel Our Brother in Law in Çamlıca (1944), the distance between Üsküdar and Çamlıca is
described with the loyalty of a photograph camera. After passing Bülbüldere, and places with “poetic names” like Fıstıkağacı, Bağlarbaşı, Servilik, Nuh Kuyusu, Nakkaştepesi, the author Abdulhak Sinasi writes the following sentence that ought to be well considered: “I wish I had a long life so that I could have spent it in all of these places, spending years in each of them!” The parts titled “Old Çamlıca” and “Days
and Nights in Çamlıca” in the novel Our Brother in Law in Çamlıca, provides crucial cues as to the lifestyle of Çamlıca during those days. In Abdulhak Şinasi’s opinion, Çamlıca meant “the final grandeur of all the eras of the Ottomans”. The mansion of the ud virtuoso, the
father of Sherif Muhiddin Targan, Sherif Haydar Pasha, was also located in Çamlıca. Çamlıca is also crucial in the life of Mehmed Akif due to this mansion. Furthermore, Çamlıca also comes across as the environment of the affluent and glamourous in the early novels of Halide
Edip, who also had begun her career by reading the authors of the Reform Era.
uskudar tablo
The Bektashi Lodge, which is explored in Yakup Kadri’s novel Nur Baba was also located in Çamlıca. Yahya Kemal had visited this lodge for the first time on the day of Nawruz with Yakup Kadri. Yahya
Kemal, who had seen Celile Hanim, Nazım Hikmet’s mother, and fallen in love with her, had always loved this hill and watched Istanbul from this hilltop. Unlike the spiritual suburbs like Eyüp and Üsküdar, this area infused in one the feelings of resting and enjoying life. It is
for this reason that he preferred this venue when spending time with his “beloved”. He frankly expresses his preference in his poem titled Those Places of Istanbul, as he states: “The hills I climbed with the Beloved… Firstly, Çamlıca…” One of the hills that Yahya Kemal mentions in his poems From a Hill and From Another Hill, was surely Çamlıca. In his poem Carnaval and Return, he speaks of how impatient he feels to see the hills of Çamlıca on the horizons upon his return. In his gazelle “Let It Speak”, in which he speaks of his understanding of poetry with the title of The Çamlıca Gazelle, he is reminded of this hill with the sound of the instrument tanbur in his poem Old Music. This writing will not be complete if I do not mention another fact: in the novel Peace, written by his student and friend Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar, the character Mümtaz calls a cafe in Küçük Çamlıca “Heartfelt” after listening to Mustafa Tabi Efendi’s song, with a line that states “your love, my dear, does not abandon my heart”.

About the author

Beşir Ayvazoğlu

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