Bakırköy is a neighbourhood, municipality and district on the European side of Istanbul, Turkey. The quarter is densely populated, has a residential character and is inhabited by an upper middle class population. The municipality of Bakırköy is much larger than the quarter and also includes several other neighbourhoods, such as Yeşilköy, Yeşilyurt, Ataköy. Bakırköy lies between the D.100 highway (locally known as E-5) and the coast of the Sea of Marmara. Bakırköy has a large psychiatric hospital called “Bakırköy Ruh ve Sinir Hastalıkları Hastanesi”, and is an important shopping and commercial center.
During the Byzantine times Bakırköy was a separate community outside Constantinople, a well-watered pleasant seaside retreat from the city, and was called Hebdomon (Greek: Ἕβδομον, “the Seventh”, i.e. seven Roman miles from the Milion, the mile-marker monument of Constantinople). Here – where nowadays the Ataköy Marina lies – Emperor Valens built one of the two imperial Palaces bearing the name of Magnaura, while Justinian erected another Palace named Jucundianae, also placed near the seaside. Two churches, dedicated respectively to St. John the Evangelist and to St. John Baptist the Forerunner, the latter hosting the head of the Saint and burial place of the Emperor Basil II, were also erected here.
Hebdomon was a place of exercise and concentration of the Thracian army. It had a large Field of Mars, the Kampos tou Tribounaliou (Greek: Κάμπος τοῦ τριβουναλίου) in Latin Campus Tribunalis, where several Emperors were elected through acclamation by the army. Among them were Valens, Arcadius, Honorius, Theodosius II, Phocas, Nikephoros II Phokas. The Campus lay in the valley of Veli Efendi, where now the horse race course is placed. The imperial court came often to the Hebdomon to attend military parades, to welcome the emperor coming back from campaign, and to pray in the large church of St. John Baptist the Forerunner.
Later the place was also named Makrohori (Greek: Μακροχώρι “long village”), which was adapted to Makriköy (Turkish: Köy “village”) in the Ottoman period, when many large houses were built here. In 1925 the ancient denomination was changed to Bakırköy (“Copper village”) by imposition of a law which suppressed all place names of non-Turkish origin.It was a district in Beyoğlu province between 1923 and 1926 and the district was also included present ones of Avcılar, Bağcılar, Bahçelievler, Başakşehir, Esenler, Güngören, Küçükçekmece, western boroughs of Zeytinburnu and small part of Arnavutköy before 1957. It was the biggest district of Turkey before separation of Küçükçekmece one (Avcılar was included in and became the district in 1992) in 1987 and ones of Bağcılar, Bahçelievler and Güngören in 1992. Later Esenler district was formed from some boroughs from Bağcılar and Güngören in 1994 and Başakşehir one formed from some boroughs from Büyükçekmece (Bahçeşehir area), Esenler and Küçükçekmece in 2009. Also small area around villages of Şamlar part of newly founded Arnavutköy district.
There is little remaining of historical significance in the area: what there is includes a cistern (Fildamı Sarnıcı), a powder house from the 17th century (today used as Yunus Emre Kültür Merkezi in Ataköy), the Greek Orthodox church of Saint George (consecrated on May 2, 1832) and a Greek school, the central mosque and fountain of 1875, an Armenian Church and school and the resting place of the Muslim saint Zuhurat Baba, a Turkish soldier who died during the conquest of Constantinople. His resting place is often visited by women on Fridays. The seafront is now a popular location for tea gardens, clubs and restaurants, (although the beaches have been unusable for decades).
Bakırköy became a popular residential area in the late 19th century after the construction of a railroad connection to İstanbul and until the 1970s was one of the most relaxed and desirable locations in the city. It is still populated by Istanbul’s upper middle-class (tradespeople, bureaucrats, the retired).
Some parts of Bakırköy are very pleasant residential areas, particularly the streets from the hospital downwards to the sea. The planned satellite town of Ataköy to the west of Bakırköy centre is very tidy indeed, and was probably Turkey’s first successful planned development. Ataköy contains much social infrastructure including the Galleria shopping center and yacht marina.
The centre of Bakırköy is an important commercial district. There is a huge shopping district (including a number of huge shiny shopping centres as Carousel), a range of cinemas, bars and cafés, as well as conversion of streets to pedestrian malls.
Bakırköy is easy to reach by public transport; there are dolmusues to Beyoğlu throughout the night; there are buses to Mecidiyeköy (although using the D.100 highway by bus is unpleasant indeed: there is a ferry boat service that takes passengers to Kadıköy and Bostancı on the Asian side of the city and also to the Adalar (Islands); and the light-railway from the airport to Aksaray runs through here. Moreover, the quarter has a station of the suburban railway line between Sirkeci and Halkalı.
Veli Efendi, Turkey’s largest and oldest racecourse, built in 1913, is close by.
Istanbul’s largest mental hospital is in Bakırköy, and the parkland surrounding it is the largest green space in the district.
There is a popular belief that the underground water of Bakırköy comes from the river Danube.
Being near the Fault in the Sea of Marmara, Bakırköy is vulnerable to earthquake damage.
The headquarters of Turkish Airlines are on the grounds of Istanbul Atatürk Airport in Yeşilköy in Bakırköy. Borajet also has its head office in Yeşilköy. Atlasjet has its head office in Florya, Bakırköy.
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