The biggest and the most prominent coffee house in Eyup is without a doubt the Bostan Port Coffee House. The significance of the coffee house that was opened next to the Eyup Port during the reign of Selim III, is that it was the place where prominent musicians of the period used to gather here to play. Among the regulars were Buyuk Dede Efendi and Eyubi Mehmet Bey. Musicians who gathered here used to play and sing until the evening and the most prominent, popular songs of Istanbul were written and sung here. Zekai Dede Efendi was also tutored by masters here and became the most prominent figure in Ottoman music. Built on poles nailed on the Golden Horn, the coffee house was torn down during the project of cleaning the Golden Horn of factories.
ARIF’S COFFEE AND GAME HOUSE IN DIVAINYOLU
It used to be located in the park opposite the building which is now used as Health Museum in Sultanahmet. The coffee house, named after its owner, used to be the venue where Istanbul’s most famous meddahs told stories and karagoz (traditional Turkish puppet) shows were put on. During the month of Ramadan, the people of Istanbul used to stream here to see the karagoz shows put on by Hayali Salih Efendi. Meddah Ismet Efendi used to tell stories, and writers, poets, journalists and important civil servants of the time used to meet here regularly. Many authors who wrote in the 1940s and 50s talk about this coffee house in their works.
Another significance of the coffee house is that it is the only place in Istanbul where black beetle races were organized for gambling purposes. Opened in the last quarter of the 19th century, the coffee house lived throughout the first years of the Republic; but was closed down after expropriations.
TOPHANE COFFEE HOUSE
One of the most famous coffee houses of the period was the Tophane Coffee House. It looks over the Topkapi palace, the Golden Horn, the Bosporus and the islands through its wide windows, and is famous for its pond, rich dinner tables, wooden ceiling and wall ornaments. Laz, Armenian and Turkish sailors, religious figures, writers and merchants used to be regulars here. Today, there are water pipe cafes in the place of this coffee house, which is alluded in many novels in Turkish literature.
Transition to the republican regime symbolized change and modernity for both the people of Anatolia and the people of Istanbul, but some habits went unchanged. Palaces and sultans became history, coffee houses changed shape along with outfits, the old have disappeared, but coffee houses remained the meeting spot…
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