Büyükdere/Kırkağac/Feridun Garden (MEGT)
Istanbul, Türkiye
The river which gives its name to this area runs into the sea at Büyükdere Bay while the name Kırkağaç comes from the clumps of huge plane trees found there. Evliya Çelebi says that this beautiful shady place, where the sultans went to hunt and which was a favorite of both local and foreign affluent people, had tall poplars, cypresses, willows, and other trees. He says that the foliage of the trees here was so thick the sun never reached the ground: Büyükdere was known for its buildings. This is a place where both Selim I and Selim II came on hunting trips and to enjoy themselves. The valley there was so steep and shaded with thick forests that it was no use for cultivation. God's gift of plane trees, poplars, cypresses, and weeping willows were so large that they reached the sky. The green grass provided ample seating and the pure flowing water made it a splendid place for picnics. It was for this reason that the town of Büyükdere was built here. There were one thousand small houses in all (Seyahatnâmesi, 1:138a).
İnciciyan (XVIII. asırda İstanbul, 166) notes that Büyükdere was the last riding stop of the sultan on the European side of the Bosphorus. He says there was a spring called Hünkar Suyu in the valley and talks of sixteen pine trees whose roots were so twisted that they were called the Seven Brothers, but he also says that the name Kırkağaç was taken from these trees. Among the trees in a pretty, level area near Büyükdere are the foundations of a ruined mansion belonging to the sultan. İnciciyan says that there was an imperial garden with many fountains within the valley and from there a road made for the sultan went down to the shore. The thickly wooded area stretching from here to Fener was the sultan’s hunting grounds. Abdülhamid I had a carriage road built to his mansion at Kırkağaç near Büyükdere.
In 1829, Mahmud II had the imperial state levee for the Feast of Sacrifice held at Büyükdere, which was attended by the shah of Persia. A great marquee was erected on the meadow and the sultan, wearing a jeweled fez, sat upon the ceremonial throne to receive felicitations. In the same year, Mahmud II held an assembly and official reception for the English ambassador here.
Büyükdere was a favorite place of the foreign ambassadors as well as the sultan. Between 1830 and 1835, the summer residences of the Russian and the Dutch ambassadors were built here. While on duty in Istanbul, Helmuth von Moltke the Elder stayed in Büyükdere. He writes in particular of the flowers at the house in which he lived: The wide roof gives shade to the pots of carnations and stock lined up on the outer side of the verandah.” He mentions Büyükdere again in his memoirs:“From whichever of my windows I look, I see a wide view of the sea, a mountain scene full of flowers, roses and oleanders or I can look at the delights of the narrow, walled garden. Around a small green lawn are pots of flowers, and seashells are placed artistically along the paths. The fresh perfume of jasmine comes in at the latticed windows and wild honeysuckle embraces the walls. (Mektuplar, 104).
In later years, this became for a short while the property of Abraham Paşa, who built a white palace here with several pavilions, aviaries, a deer park, and two large pools. He brought fruit trees from abroad and made a kind of lake with a marsh at the side. A document from 1564 gives details of expenses and repair costs for the garden, including to the water supply system and to a structure identified as the “Monster House” at Büyükdere Garden, thus proving that, at a much earlier date, wild animals had been kept there. An engraving by J. Laurens done in 1847 for Count Raczinsky’s travel memoirs and an old photograph depict the two magnificent plane trees found in this garden.
The text for this entry is adapted from Nurhan Atasoy, Garden for the Sultan, 305–6.

Source: Travel Account, 17th century | Travel Account, 18th century | Travel Account, 19th century

-Nurhan Atasoy, Seyit Ali Kahraman


Evliya Çelebi Seyahatnâmesi: Topkapı Sarayı Bağdat 304 Yazmasının transkripsiyonu (Open in Zotero)

XVIII. asırda İstanbul (Open in Zotero)

A Garden for the Sultan: Gardens and Flowers in the Ottoman Culture (Open in Zotero)

Originally published at:Atasoy, Nurhan, and Seyit Ali Kahraman “Büyükdere/Kırkağac/Feridun Garden.” Middle East Gardens Traditions. Dumbarton Oaks, December 1, 2014. https://www.doaks.org/resources/middle-east-garden-traditions/catalogue/C98. Archived at: https://perma.cc/5UDZ-R9BM.

Istanbul, Türkiye
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Date of entry of information: August 2007
Dates of attested life: 16th century- 19th century
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Büyükdere/Kırkağac/Feridun Garden
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