Guide to SKOPJE

Historic places in Istanbul – Samatya


I have lived in Istanbul for almost 40 years now, and I feel a duty to tell about the city. My first reportage will be accompanied by a cup of Turkish coffee with just a little sugar. I recommend you do the same. When you go out for a walk among the scents of anise and fish you deserve to have a cup of coffee.samatya

I know the introduction sounds a bit romantic, but I can’t emphasize more that this part of Istanbul is important because Greeks, Armenians and Turks have lived in peace here for hundreds of years, and have thus become heroes of the romantic stories of Samatya.samatyaev ss1

There is only one square in Samatya that has witnessed great loves, quarrels, feuds and friendships in the past… You can smell the sea there, and maybe all those negative feelings were swept away by the sea breeze that refreshed their stories and gave them hope…

As for the name Samatya, I would like to utter a few words also. The origin of the name is Psomatia, a greek word that means beach or sand..Most probably at the time of Byzantion, the sea was bringing heavy sand to the shores of Samatya.. And naturally the name also gradually changed in time.YedikuleIn the western part of Samatya stands Yedikule and in the east it is Yenikapi. The wind brings in the smell of sea into the market and the craftsmen are always in a good mood here.

Besides the historic buildings and churches, the hundreds-of-years-old taverns are one more reason to visit this place.

safaDuring the season when there is too much fish the anchovies and palometa are replaced with blue fish. Visit the stalls of the fishermen Sadetin and Thomas to have a look at the fish. If you need a rest visit Safa, a hundred years old tavern. If you crave shellfish (if you don’t than you should) visit Midyeci Arap, a restaurant specialized in preparing shellfish pan and stuffed mussels (midye dolma).

Safa was built in 1895 and a Greek man ran the restaurant. In this beautiful, historic place with a high ceiling you must try Albanian liver.

After we have filled the stomach, it is time to get to know the place. On Marmara avenue you will find Surp Kevork church (water church), which is one of the most important and prestigious Byzantine churches of that era. The garden has a beautiful well that has given the church its popular name. It is believed that this water can heal eye diseases. In 1461 the monastery was given to the Armenian community and it was the seat of the Armenian Patriarchate. In 1866 years a huge fire burnt it to the ground but then it was rebuilt.Armenian patriarchate

“Mati” means eye in Greek, so if you have time visit Mati cafè located under an old Greek house, featuring an interesting, authentic interior. Make sure to visit Yedikule where their famous breakfast is accompanied by fresh salads seasoned with dill and basil. Unfortunately, the orchards and gardens where people grew vegetables have been lost under the wheels of capitalism.

St. Mina is another old church. It is said to be originating from the 4th or 5th century AD. The graves of two saints, Karpos and Papilos, are there. Next in line is Aga Hamam built by Mimar Sinan. The bath was built in 1542 but then it was left to its fate. In 2008 it was restored, but since it was rented to a private entity it is no longer in use. I would really like to introduce you to the many bars in this place, especially to a very popular kebab restaurant, but I will not get into those things. We started off with fish we will end the day with fish.ss4There is a Fish Museum in this area that I haven’t visited yet. I think that is the only museum in the country dedicated to fish. It is located in a fish shelter in Kocamustafapasa. Mr. Haydar Deniz is founder of the museum so we can assume that he admires fish. Also we can assume that he had no support from the state or the private sector. The museum is a result of his personal effort and I plan to visit it to see the 650 species of marine life. I hope that in the future there will be more things to be seen here…