Two registered historical artifacts were found under the 200-year-old brothel in Karaköy, which was demolished to be converted into a culture and arts center as part of the Beyoğlu Culture Street. The artifacts identified by the Monuments Council before the demolition were found to be the synagogue, known for its 120-year history, and the Ottoman bath. Ongoing works under the supervision of experts from the Archaeological Museum of Istanbul will be accelerated after the excavation has been removed.
The Zürafa Street brothel, which is the subject of Yeşilçam films, has been converted into a culture and arts center by the Beyoğlu Municipality after it was closed during the coronavirus epidemic.
A THOUSAND YEARS OF HISTORY
Since the area where the demolition of the buildings started to convert the Giraffe, Kadem and Al Deer streets into culture and arts centers is in the Galata district, which has a history of about a thousand years, the works were carried out with carried out with great care.
As part of the Beyoğlu Culture Road project implemented by the Beyoğlu Municipality, the Culture and Arts Center will be built on the site of 42 brothels, Atatürk Cultural Center, Galata Tower, Galata Mevlevi Hut, Tarık Zafer Tunaya Cultural Center, Narmanlı Han, Muammer Karaca Theater, Garibaldi Hall, Egypt Apartment, Atlas It is planned to combine it with buildings such as the Cinema Museum and the Grand Pera Emek Stage. Registered historical artefacts have been uncovered while the excavations of the brothel buildings, whose demolition began on February 11, have been removed.
As construction machinery demolished 60-70 year old buildings, experts noticed the red brick structure emerging from under a building on the ground. Although the building is a typical example of Ottoman architecture, it is estimated that it is a bath with a history of 200-300 years. It was assumed that brothel buildings were built on the bath, which was built of red bricks. During the excavation, the walls of the Great Büksek Kaldirim Synagogue were also visible, which was registered by the Monuments Authority before it was demolished. The synagogue, which was built in 1900 when Jews of Central European origin arrived in Istanbul, was also carefully preserved during the excavation work. It was remembered that the area where Ottoman architecture was defined was also the Genoese district with the relationship that Manuel I established with the Genoese since 1164.
IMPORTANT FOR THE CULTURAL PATH
Istanbul city guide and urban researcher Selçuk Eracun explained that the region’s history dates back to the Genoese and Venetian city-states and that the buildings can be dated based on the study of historical maps and the work of experts. Eracun said: “According to initial investigations, it is correct to stop the construction. Historically there is a wall remnant. The dating of this building, which is independent from the demolished building, could retrace the history of Beyoğlu Cultural Street.”
On the other hand, Roy Oksen said, “The Beyoğlu Cultural Road project is a very important work to explain the history of the region and increase commercial activities. We look forward to making it happen,” he said.
Beyoğlu Municipality said the works further complete the cultural transformation of the giraffe, fallow deer and Kadem streets. The statement said: “The demolition process of 35 buildings on Girafa Street has been completed and the excavation will be removed. The board 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 should go down in history.”
ARTICLES, DOCUMENTS, DOCUMENTS…
As an era came to an end and the two-century-old brothel disappeared into history, Beyoğlu Municipality began preparations to start a new era. Ayşe Özdemir from Milliyet met with Mayor of Beyoğlu Haydar Ali Yıldız at Zürafa Sokak to learn more about the plan to realize cultural change. Meanwhile, on the street where the community has just started work, we sadly contemplated the traces of the past and the women who work in the brothel! Maybe two years ago, when the brothel was closed due to the pandemic, the women working here thought that they would return… Therefore, they left their identities and some personal documents… With these identities, the documents were protected by the Beyoğlu community the basis of confidentiality.
Shoes with pointed heels, shiny slippers, clothes hanging in closets with spider cords and laundry scattered on the floor in the ruined houses of the dilapidated street, where almost every corner is full of broken glass, bear the marks of the experiences. Lipstick inscriptions on dusty mirrors emphasize the importance of time: “The best friend is the one who is least committed.”
The rulers of the houses kept notes in small notebooks, a kind of account book, and how much each woman earned was written against her name. Documents found in the houses indicated that the workers were insured. And then there were the cats who were friends with the women on the street… The confused cats, looking very unhappy in the secluded corners 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 municipal veterinary office took care of them and they were given food and water. The giraffe street, which is given new life through a cultural and artistic change, is the most surprising situation we have experienced where the customers still asked where the women went, they tried to get detailed information and when they found out that it was all over, you walked away shaking your head!
We left Zürafa Sokak hoping that the women who once worked here would have the economic conditions and social security to make a living.