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Istanbul on Seven Hills

Upon mention of Istanbul what comes to mind the first is the “Seven Hills”. All of these hills that inspired lyrics of songs and verses of poems are in Fatih. These hills are;

Sultanahmet (Topkapı Palace) Hill

This is the hill where the Grand Ayasofya and Sultanahmet Mosques and İbrahim Pasha’s Palace are situated. The large square named Hippodrome where horse races and gladiator fights and various ceremonies took place in pre-Ottoman Period was also on this hill. The Ottomans named this square “Horse Square”. Currently it is known as “Sultanahmet Square”.

Çemberlitaş Hill

Çemberlitaş Square is accepted as the second hill of Istanbul and the Column of Constantine brought from Rome rises on this hill. The monuments on this hill that is about 50 meters above sea level are lined up on Mese-Divanyolu Street. The Nuruosmaniye Mosque that adorn this hill is the first baroque-style mosque that was constructed in Istanbul. The Column of Constantine that was built on this second hill of Istanbul in 330 A.D. to honor Emperor Constantine the Great and the historic Grand Bazaar that is one of the largest and oldest bazaars of the world whose foundations were laid in 1461 are also on this hill. This hill also hosts New (Yeni) Mosque, Firuz Ağa Mosque, Çorlulu Ali Paşa Mosque and Theological School, Binbirdirek Cistern, Çemberlitaş Turkish Bath, Çinili Inn, and Spice (Egyptian) Bazaar.

Yavuz Selim Hill

This hill is named after the Yavuz Sultan Selim Mosque and Complex on it. Tomb of Yavuz Sultan Selim Han is also on this hill. This area that remains between back streets of Fatih and Golden Horn shores is home to many architectural monuments. Fethiye Mosque is situated on this hill that lies about 60 meters above the Golden Horn. This area was inhabited by predominantly by Islamic teachers and scholars during the Ottoman Empire and numerous mosques, religious schools, and tombs are constructed on this hill.

Edirnekapı Hill

This hill covers Fevzi Paşa Street and Atatürk Boulevard. Thus, during the Byzantine and Ottoman periods the most prestigious structures were constructed in this area. During the Byzantine Period there was Church of the Holy Apostles built by Emperor Constantine the Great and dedicated to the 12 apostles. This structure was demolished during the conquest upon which Mehmed the Conqueror decided to build a selatin mosque as a tribute to the conquest and Fatih Mosque was built. Fatih Sultan Mehmet’s tomb is also placed here. Eski İmaret Mosque, Molla Zeyrek Mosque, the Column of Marcian, and the well-known Kadınlar Pazarı (Women's Bazaar) are also on this hill.

Kocamustafapaşa Hill

One of the oldest residential areas of Istanbul, Kocamustafapaşa Neighborhood is the last hill of the city. Kocamustafapaşa Hill is the region from Aksaray district to city walls and the Marmara shore hosting the Haseki Complex and Cerrahpaşa Mosque.

Beyazıt Hill

Architect Sinan’s magnificent monument the Süleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul University, and Beyazıt Mosque together with the Beyazıt Tower stands on this hill that rises over shores of the Golden Horn.

Fatih Hill

This hill covers Fevzi Paşa Street and Atatürk Boulevard. Thus, during the Byzantine and Ottoman periods the most prestigious structures were constructed in this area. During the Byzantine Period there was Church of the Holy Apostles built by Emperor Constantine the Great and dedicated to the 12 apostles. This structure was demolished during the conquest upon which Mehmed the Conqueror decided to build a selatin mosque as a tribute to the conquest and Fatih Mosque was built. Fatih Sultan Mehmet’s tomb is also placed here. Eski İmaret Mosque, Molla Zeyrek Mosque, the Column of Marcian, and the well-known Kadınlar Pazarı (Women's Bazaar) are also on this hill.

Master Necip Fazıl Kısakürek described this ancient city and the seven hills the best in his poem My Precious Istanbul.

My Precious Istanbul
Like they melted my soul and frost it in a cast;
And placed it on land as Istanbul.
It fumes in me; the air, the color, the attitude, the climate;
It is my darling that passed through times and spaces.
Its flowers are golden stars, its water is bright;
The Moon and the Sun are Istanbulite from time immemorial.
Sea and earth meets in it,

And dreams achieved an example in it

Istanbul my precious;
My land, oh my land…
Istanbul,
Istanbul…

The history has eyes, holes on the walls;
Cypress, the graceful cypress, curtain to afterlife…
Curveted on cloud, the gray horse from the time of Fatih;
Domes of diamonds, perhaps one billion carat…
Minaret rises through the sky like the index finger;
The same meaning in every decoration: We will die, can it be helped?
Death more alive than life, mercy more overwhelming than sin;
Beyoğlu stops while cries Karacaahmet…

Find that meaning, oh find!
Only find it in Istanbul!
Istanbul,
Istanbul…

Bosporus is a silver brazier that boils coolness;
In Çamlıca depth of the skies lies on the floor.
Playful waters are guests at the ground floor of waterside;
Gloomy about the new world, the old ambassador in picture.
Fire on windows every evening in Üsküdar,
Haunted wooden mansion, big as a city…
Some sound, don’t know like the tambura or the lute?
Makes ‘Katibim’ groan in bay windows…

Woman sharp as a knife,
Warm as fresh blood.
Istanbul,
Istanbul…

Time tambours on seven hills!
Countless appearances from seven colors and seven sounds…
Eyüp is orphan, Kadıköy is ornate, Moda snippy,
Wind is the cause of flying skirts on the islands.
At every break of day arrows are drawn from bows at the Hisars
Screams still come from the Topkapı Palace.
No lover like the mother, no land like Istanbul;
Not just the laughing one, but even the crying one is fortunate…

Night smells hyacinth
Turkish smells nightingale,
Istanbul,
Istanbul…

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