Gokhan Karakas- Two recorded historical artifacts were found under the 200-year-old brothel in Karaköy, which was demolished to be turned into a cultural and artistic center as part of the Beyoğlu cultural route. It was learned that the artifacts identified by the Monuments Board before the demolition were the synagogue, known for its 120-year history, and the Ottoman bath. Ongoing works under the supervision of Istanbul Archeology Museum experts will accelerate after the removal of the excavations.
The brothel on Zürafa Street, which is the subject of Yeşilçam films, was transformed into a cultural and artistic center by the municipality of Beyoğlu after it was closed during the coronavirus epidemic.
THOUSAND YEARS OF HISTORY
Since the area where the demolition of the buildings that have started to be demolished in order to turn Giraffe, Kadem and Al deer streets into cultural and artistic centers is located in the Galata district, which has a history of about a thousand years, the work was carried out with great care.
As part of Beyoğlu Culture Road project led by Beyoğlu Municipality, the cultural and arts center to be built on the site of 42 brothels, Atatürk Cultural Center, Galata Tower, Galata Mevlevi Lodge, Tarık Zafer Tunaya Cultural Center, Narmanlı Han, Muammer Karaca Theater, Garibaldi Hall, Egyptian Apartment, Atlas It is planned to be combined with structures such as the Cinema Museum and the Grand Pera Emek Stage. As excavations of the brothel’s buildings, which began to be demolished on February 11, have been removed, recorded historical artifacts have come to light.
As construction machines demolished buildings 60 to 70 years old, experts noticed the red brick structure emerging from under a building in the background. While the building is seen to be a typical example of Ottoman architecture, it is estimated to be a bathhouse with a history of 200-300 years. It was understood that the buildings of the brothel were built on the bath, which was built with red bricks. The walls of the Great Synagogue of Büksek Kaldirim, which was registered by the Monuments Board before the demolition, were also visible during the excavations. The synagogue, which was built in 1900 when Jews of central European origin arrived in Istanbul, was also carefully preserved during excavation work. It was recalled that the area where Ottoman architecture was defined was also the Genoese quarter with the relationship that Manuel I established with the Genoese since 1164.
IMPORTANT FOR THE CULTURAL PATH
Istanbul guide and city researcher Selçuk Eracun said the area’s history dates back to the Genoese and Venetian city-states, and buildings can be dated through examination of period maps and to expert work. Eracun said, “According to initial inquiries, it is right to stop construction. Historically, there is a remnant of a wall. The dating of this building, which is independent of the demolished building, can bring back the history of Beyoğlu Culture Road. mentioned.
Roy Oksen, meanwhile, said, “Beyoğlu Cultural Route Project is a very important work to explain the history of the region and increase business activities. We look forward to its implementation,” he said.
Beyoğlu Municipality said work is continuing to complete the cultural transformation of Giraffe, Deer and Kadem Street. In the statement, “The demolition process of 35 buildings on Girafa Street has been completed and the excavation is being removed. The council is negotiating with the beneficiaries for the remaining 5 buildings. There is a synagogue, synagogue outbuildings and a historic bath. After the decision of the board of directors, it will be designed to go down in history.
ARTICLES, DOCUMENTS, DOCUMENTS…
As an era ended with the two-century-old brothel disappearing into history, Beyoğlu Municipality began preparations to start another era. Milliyet’s Ayşe Özdemir met with Beyoğlu Mayor Haydar Ali Yıldız in Zürafa Sokak to learn more about the plan for realizing cultural transformation. Meanwhile, in the street where the municipality had just started working, we looked sadly at the traces of the past and the women who worked in the brothel! Maybe two years ago, when the brothel was closed due to the pandemic, the women who worked here thought they would come back… That’s why they left their identities and some personal documents… With these identities, the documents were protected by the Beyoğlu Municipality on the basis of confidentiality.
Pointy-heeled shoes, shiny slippers, clothes hanging in cupboards with cobwebbed cupboards and laundry strewn on the floor in the ruined houses of the broken-down street, where almost every corner is full of broken glass , bear the traces of experiences . Lipstick inscriptions on dusty mirrors underline the importance of time: “The best friend is the one who commits the least.
CUSTOMERS ALWAYS COME!
The heads of the houses took notes in small notebooks, a kind of accounting book, and how much each woman earned was written next to her name. It emerged from the documents found in the houses that the physical workers were insured. And then there were the cats who were friends with the women in the street… The confused cats, who looked very unhappy in the recesses of the ruined buildings, seemed to be waiting for a hand to stroke their heads. Mayor Yıldız, whom we asked about the fate of the cats on the street, said that the municipality’s veterinary department was taking care of them and that they were given food and water. Giraffe Street, which will gain new life with a cultural and artistic transformation, is the most surprising situation we have witnessed, where customers still ask where the women go, they try to get detailed information, and when they learned that it was all over, they left shaking their heads!
We left Zürafa Sokak, hoping that the women working here would have the economic conditions and social security to support themselves.