Jewish Sites in Hasköy, Istanbul

Rich vineyards and forests covered the south-facing slopes of the Golden Horn in Byzantine times.

The Ottoman sultans came to what they called Hasköyto hunt and to enjoy its natural beauty. In the 1700s, they built an imperial pleasure villa, Aynalikavak Kasri.

Residential areas grew up later, including a lively Jewish one. Today Hasköy has the Jewish Home for the Aged, the Kamondo mansion, and a large Jewish cemetery which includes the Kamondo mausoleum.

GETTING THERE

Take a taxi and tell the driver “Haskoy Polis Karakolu” (police station) or the “Sükrü Urcan Spor Tesisleri” (athletic facilities), which are well known. From these sites you can continue by taxi, or walk for ten minutes.

WHAT TO SEE IN HASKÖY

The Jewish Home for the Aged (Ihtiyarlar Yurdu), Hasköy Mektep Sokak no. 10, is a handsome classical stone building originally constructed in 1874 by the Alliance Israélite Universelle as a modern European-style school. The Home is located on a quiet street in a residential district with vibrant street life. As you walk to the school, picture these narrow streets as they were a century ago, alive with the sounds of Judeo-Spanish, and dotted with small synagogues.

From the police station, go northwest up the steep hill, keeping the athletic facilities on your right. Look for a sign reading Ihtiyarlar Yurduna gider (“This way to the Old-Age Home.”) Turn right onto Okmeydani Caddesi, go one block, then turn left onto Keçeci Piri Cami Sokak. Walk along this street to a little park; turn right at the far side of the park onto Hasköy Mektep Sokak (“Hasköy School Street;” another sign marks this turn), and the Old-Age Home is one short block up on the right.

Founded in May, 1860 in Paris, the Alliance Israélite Universelle was a mutual aid and protection society. Its mission was to promote closer cooperation among Jews throughout the world; to protect Jewish communities which were under pressure; and to promote Jewish community life through culture and education.

In the Ottoman Empire, the Alliance established schoolsfirst in Baghdad and Damascus, then in Volos, Edirne and Salonica. Istanbul and Izmir, with their large Jewish communities, had several schools each.

The Hasköy school was opened in 1874 for Jewish girls. The curriculum included sewing, knitting, cooking and other aspects of home economics. Many other Ottoman towns received schools as well. An agricultural school–the first one in the system–was opened in Jaffa, in Ottoman Palesine, in 1870. Though meant primarily for the Jewish community, the schools accepted non-Jewish students as well.

A minute’s walk southeast of the Hasköy police station along the Kasimpasa-Hasköy Yolu is Aynalikavak Kasri, an imperial Ottoman pleasure pavilion.

From Aynalikavak Kasri, take a taxi to the foot of Bahriye Caddesi, right on the shore of the Golden Horn in the neighboring district of Kasimpasa; tell the driver to take you to the Deniz Kuvvetleri Güney Bölgesi Komutanligi.

The imposing stone building on the right-hand (northwest) side at the Golden Horn end of Bahriye Caddesi is the former Kamondo Mansion, now used as the headquarters of the Turkish Navy’s northern region. The house–actually a small palace–was built by the wealthy and influential Kamondo family. When the last of the Kamondos died without heirs, the mansion was willed to the Turkish government. As a military installation, it is not open to visitors, but even from the outside, in its beautiful situation on the Golden Horn, it is impressive.

To view the Kamondo Mausoleum you must take a ride on the Birinci Çevreyolu, the expressway which skirts the central area of the city to the north of Hasköy. Tragically, the path of the expressway passes directly through the midst of the large Hasköy Jewish Cemetery.

The Kamondo mausoleum is set prominently on a hill just to the north of the roadway, a short distance northeast of the Golden Horn, especially when travelling westbound.


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