Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Nişanca, Eyüp - İstanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°02'26.4"N 28°55'55.0"E / 41.040667, 28.931944

This lodge is located in the Nişanca neighbourhood to the south of Nazır Ağa Çeşmesi Street. It was built in 1798-99 (1213) by Sadaret Kethüdası Arabacızade İbrahim Nesim Efendi (died 1807) for the Izmir born Sheik Seyyid Mustafa Selami Efendi (died 1813), of the Nakşibendiyye order. The lodge was originally used by the Nakşibendiyye, but after the death of Sheik M. Selami Efendi it was used by the Müştakiyye branch of the Kadiriyye order between 1813-1831, and from 1831 onwards by the Rıfaiyye, although Nakşibendi thought was disseminated here until the end.

The lodge was restored at the end of the 19th century, and the main building containing the ceremonial hall-tomb and male quarters was repaired by the Religious Foundations in 1985, after which it was allocated to a cultural foundation. The ruins of the harem and kitchen sections have been abandoned to their fate. Because of the slope of the land, a support wall runs along the length of Nazır Ağa Çeşmesi Street to the north, with the buildings of the convent arrayed around the courtyard containing the fountain, which is overshadowed by this wall.

One proceeds from a raised area laid with Malta stone through the undistinguished garden gate into the courtyard, which is paved with the same stone. The lintel of the courtyard gate, surrounded by brick columns, contains marble panels with clearly discernable sülüs script containing on the outer surface the declaration of God’s unity, and on the inner surface the names of the founders of the Nakşibendi sect. The small-scale goblet shaped ablutions fountain of marble in the center of the courtyard is of an interesting style.

It carries an inscription dated 1228 (1813) belonging to the poet Razi in the name of the founder and with the phrase “tekye-i darüsselam” (Convent of the Dominion of Islam). The main building is an L-shaped block, of which the 23 meter wing to the south contains the ceremonial hall-tomb, and that to the east contains the male quarters. It consists of a brick basement floor and a wooden floor that is slightly above the level of the courtyard.

The 7.5 x 6 m area allocated to sufi ritual in the ceremonial hall-tomb section is flanked to the south by the external wall, and to the west and north by twostoried L-shaped galleries, while the tomb area is located to the east on the same level as the galleries. Decorative molded railings front the men’s galleries and the tomb, while grills rise to the roof from a low parapet in front of the women’s section.

The northeastern and northwestern corners of the ceremonial area are rounded to soften their appearance, and the whole area is enclosed with eight octagonal columns on which are supported the upper level of galleries allocated to the women. Broad (false) arches of wood have been fitted between the columns, and the corners of the large opening to the north have been fitted with curved semi-arches. The northern wall of the ceremonial halltomb over the courtyard contains a door to the ceremonial hall with a window to either side, along with a larger prayer window at the level of the tomb.

The southern wall contains an entrance to the ceremonial hall, the mihrap and a window beside each of these. The mihrap alcove is semicircular on the interior and semihexagonal on the exterior and is framed with a wooden molding, crowned by a rounded arch. In the northeastern corner of the ceremonial hall is an anteroom containing the stairs to the women’s upper galleries and a small service window, a visiting area to the east of the tomb, and an area for serving sherbet.

There are two adjacent spaces in the basement floor of the ceremonial hall-tomb. To the west below the ceremonial hall is what was presumably a storehouse, and to the east below the tomb are the graves of Sheik Selami Efendi and his successors. The ground floor of the male quarters consist of two rectangular anterooms joined by a glass section with doors to form a T-shape, and various other rooms of the quarters organized around these. The anteroom on the east-west axis contains stairs to the basement.

It is thought that the low-ceilinged rooms in the basement floor, some containing closets for bedding, could have been used for sitting, conversing, eating and sleeping, as the need arose. The façades and ceilings of the main building display features of 19th century wooden houses of Istanbul and reflect the tastes of that era. The ceilings were executed using the “çubuklu” or rod method. However the ceiling roses of the ceremonial hall, tomb and visiting area are exceedingly simple, consisting of two interconnected squares.

The three-storied harem shares the same materials and construction features as the main building, with “two-sided” anterooms and symmetrically connected rooms. In the kitchen situated
in the northwestern corner of the harem, the long chimney, on the verge of collapse, only survives by being propped against the outer support wall. The small graveyard is in the back garden of the harem.

The unity of the ceremonial hall and the tomb which can be seen in his lodge, whose outward similarity to a wooden mansion of the last century and architectural details make it a typical example of late period Istanbul convent architecture, is an unique and ancient practice in the buildings of sufi orders. The most interesting architectural aspect of the Sheik Selami Efendi Lodge arises in relation not to its status as a religious building but from a feature of Anatolian Turkish architecture that it displays; that is the continued use at the end of the 19th century of the crypt vault style, which was largely abandoned as a technique in the early Ottoman era, albeit with a completely different appearance.

In summary, as with tombs and gravestones, it is possible to determine the developments in Ottoman architecture with regard to religious structures and their typology from the middle of the 15th century until 1925 by examining the buildings of religious order in Eyüp Sultan alone. Sadly, it cannot by any means be claimed that these treasures of Eyüp Sultan have been protected and valued as they should have been.

As was touched on at the beginning, not many of the dervish lodges of Eyüp Sultan have survived until the present day, and not much is known of the architectural features of those that have disappeared. None of those that have survived have done so architecturally intact; in other words all of the complexes that survive today are missing some of their original structures.

Of these, the buildings discussed in group II above that operated as both mosque and lodge generally continued to have their ceremonial hall used as a mosque after 1925, but the other sections went out of use (male quarters, harem, kitchen etc) and went to ruin over time or were altered for other purposes. The same is true for some of the complex plan lodges that we discussed in group III above. Some of those buildings that did manage to survive have been restored in recent years by foundations and put to cultural use.


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