A book featuring 500 years of Istanbul maps is released this week. Prepared by art historian Dr. Ayşe Yetişkin Kubilay, '1422-1922 Istanbul Maps' presents all manners of maps from the early 15th century until the birth of the Republic. 'The book does not feature Istanbul's history or Istanbul maps, but Istanbul in maps,' Kubilay says
Ayşe Yetişkin Kubilay
A book presenting 500 years of maps of Istanbul was released this week, including everything from a map of the city’s Byzantine heritage to one geared toward insurance companies.
The book, titled “1422-1922 Istanbul Haritaları” (1422-1922 Istanbul Maps), was prepared by art historian Dr. Ayşe Yetişkin Kubilay in consultation with Topkapı Palace Museum Director Professor İlber Ortaylı and the support of the Ağaoğlu companies group. It was published by Denizler Book Store.
The book includes 100 maps chosen from 580 documents by Nick Adjemoğlu, an Istanbul local living in Greece, Kubilay said, adding that it does not feature Istanbul’s history or Istanbul maps, but “Istanbul in maps.”
According to the art historian, the first known map of Istanbul was a handwritten document from 1422 by a famous traveler and mapmaker from Florence, Christoforo Boundelmonte.
“Boundelmonte’s map, titled ‘Urbis Constantinopolitanae,’ is significant since it was drawn as a result of his observations during his visit, as well as being the first map of the city,” she said. “Many maps and plans featuring Istanbul during the same period were drawn by people who never visited the city.”
Kubilay added that the city’s first printed, and second oldest, map was published by Hartman Schedel in 1453 and featured Byzantine Istanbul. “The map shows the city from the Sea of Marmara and includes Suriçi [the Old City inside the walls] and the Galata-Pera region,” she said. “It is like a landscape picture rather than a plan or a map. It is actually an illustration of the city.”
Giuseppe Rosaccio’s map from 1598 is the oldest Istanbul map using the silver printing method, the historian said, noting also that “One of the most important mapmakers of the 16th century, Swede Sebastian Münster’s Istanbul maps were included in the most popular atlas of the time.”
Istanbul map of a family tree
Italian jurist and family tree researcher Antonio Abizzi’s “Istanbul Map of a Family Tree,” which includes the dynastic lists of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires, is just one of the maps in the book that utilizes alternative perspectives.
“[One map] showing the city from the Galata-Pera region was drawn by Baron Louis des Hayes in 1624. Until that day, maps had been drawn as seen from the Sea of Marmara,” Kubilay said. “In this map, the city is divided into three parts, Suriçi, Pera-Galata and Üsküdar – the [Princes’] Islands are also seen on the map.”
A Bosphorus map drawn by Hungarian engineer Johann Baptist von Reben in 1764 using the step-counting method is the longest known map of the waterway.
Maps in the 18th century were more decorative and eye-catching than those in previous years, Kubilay said, adding that one drawn by Tomas Lopez effectively showed the three large fires that destroyed nearly half the city in 1782.
First scientific, scaled map from 1786
The first scientific, scaled map appeared in 1786 and was drawn by civil engineer François Kauffer, the art historian added.
“It shows the historic peninsula, the Golden Horn, Pera-Galata and Üsküdar. As well as settlement areas, the map shows early railways; city walls; religious structures, such as the graveyards of all religions as well as tombs, mosques and churches; and civil structures such as fountains, schools and palaces,” she said. “This is very important information in terms of society and architecture. It includes the area from Yedikule on the European side to Beylerbeyi on the Asian side.”
Map of conquest
A map depicting Sultan Mehmet II’s 1453 conquest of the city was drawn in 1850 and primarily shows symbols of the conquest along with a few structures and gates, Kubilay said.
“In Istanbul’s demographic map, made by the German Stolpe in 1866, one sees the locations of settlements for Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities,” she added, noting that the map showing the city’s railway network was drawn by George Bradshaw in 1889.
The first map showing Istanbul along with its surrounding areas was drawn in 1908 and spanned from Küçükçekmece on the European side to Pendik on the Asian side and to the Black Sea coast, Kubilay said.
A map showing Istanbul’s mosques was drawn by painter Hüsnü Tengüz in 1917.
The book concludes with a map for insurance companies created by Jacques Pervititch in 1922. “Istanbul was a city of fires and a potential market for fire-insurance companies. Fires occurred all the time because houses were made of wood,” Kubilay said. “This is why the number of insurance companies increased in the city and companies prepared fire maps.”
Journey through time to the capital of the world
According to Kubilay, maps made after 1922 were generally similar to each other and were not included in the book because they were only for tourism purposes.
“Thanks to the maps, I entered the streets of Istanbul. I visited the city like a Byzantine in the Byzantium period, and like an Ottoman in the Ottoman period,” she said. “The book provides a journey through time starting from 1422. I walked on the streets of the city, examining the buildings. I stayed in the villages on the coast of the Bosphorus. Istanbul is the capital of the world.”