The Green Village
Exploring the Yeşilköy Neighbourhood
Located just seven miles west of Istanbul's historic city centre, Yeşilköy feels like a small seaside resort on the Marmara Sea instead of an extension of Istanbul's great sprawl. Originally named Agios Stephanos, the village was given this name according to a legend originating from the Byzantine times. A ship carrying the bones of Saint Stephen from Constantinople to Rome was forced to stop here because of a storm. The bones were taken to a church until the sea calmed down, and this gave the name to the church and to the place.
A WALK BACK THROUGH TIME
In 1203, on the beach of Agios Stefanos, (now the Yeşilköy Marina) was where the Latin Army of the Crusaders landed. One year later they would conquer Constantinople in the culmination of the Fourth Crusade.
In the 19th century, Sultan Mahmut II gifted land from Ataköy to Florya to the Armenian Dadyan family as thanks for centuries of service to the Ottoman Empire. As a result, many schools and churches (mostly Armenian Catholic, Roman Catholic, and Syriac Orthodox) were built in this area and was one of the major Armenian enclaves in Istanbul.
During the Crimean War, the French forces were stationed here and built Ayastefanos Feneri, one of the three historic lighthouses of Istanbul still in use.
Yeşilköy is also where the Russian forces stopped at the end of the Russo-Turkish War (1877-1878) and was the location where the Treaty of San Stefano was signed between Russia and the Ottoman Empire. The treaty was signed in the Simenoğlu Mansion, which still stands.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, Yeşilköy was a favourite coastal resort and hunting place for Istanbul's upper class and had a mixed population of Turks, Greeks, Armenians, and Levantines. As a legacy of the district's continuing cosmopolitan character, an Italian mission, an Italian Catholic church and cemetery, Armenian churches and Greek churches still exist in the area. All the churches are dedicated to St. Stephen.
A well-known feature of the neighbourhood is the colourful and ornate art nouveau houses, many of which still stand side-by-side with new construction.
The village got its present name Yeşilköy, in 1926, after legislation passed requiring each community be given a Turkish name. Writer Halit Ziya Uşakligil, who lived here gave the village its new name.
Today, Yeşilköy is a leafy suburb with quiet streets and bustling meydan full of cafes, boutiques, and grocery stores. It is popular in the summer because of its expansive waterfront and walking path. Many people dock their boats here and dine at the meyhanes on Çamözü Sokak which are situated on the west side of the marina. There is also Röne Park which has a petting zoo and Roma Dondurmacısı ice cream which is famous in the neighbourhood. Their concept store 240 Degrees, which is featured in our "Anna's Finds" article, is located just 120 m from the Yeşilköy Marmara statıon and a good place to grab a coffee or treats to start your day of exploring.
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