Uninhabited Units


(a) (a. derived from havt). An area enclosed by something such as a screen or wall (DE). A walled enclosure, courtyard (RM).

Various derivations of the word Muhavvat can be found in İVTD.1 The word muhavvatayı yesire was used for smaller courtyards, muhavvata-i dâhiliyye for interior courtyards, muhavvata-i hariciyye for exterior courtyards and words such as iç havlı (inner courtyard), taşra havlı (outer courtyard) or simply deruni or biruni are used.


(Shop)(a) A room or place from which various things are sold (DE). An area in which small traders place the goods they intend to sell, a room with an open front (Kāmûs-ı Türkî (Turkish dictionary) henceforth referred to as KT).

In the waqf records, there are certain locations that are comprised only of shops; in addition to these kinds of commercial facilities there were also shops that became a part of the civil architecture, becoming integrated with settlement units. As a part of the location, these shops sometimes served the entire area. In these terms, shops can be considered to be a unit that ensures the economic maintainability of settlement units. In the İVTD* 594th waqf, after Hajji Mahmud imposed the conditions, he requested the location units, and stipulated the conditions “…and income from the shop will be spent on repairs…”


(a) Toilet (DE). Toilet, washroom, lavatory (KT). Water-closet, washing-room (RM). In İVTD, the fact that there are 1,248 lavatories in 2,431 houses means that there was almost one lavatory for every two houses.

Bi’r-i ma

Bi’r (a) Well (DE) + ma ماء (a) water (DE); water well. Bi’r: well, pit (KT)


(a) Vessel for drinking water, a place to collect drinking water, water tank (DE).

Su Küpü

A large earthenware vessel with a narrow mouth, a larger version of a jug or jar: water container, pickle container (KT).

In addition to the centralized authority in the waqf clauses found in İVTD, it is interesting that civilians considered the issue of providing water to be an act of charity and prompted the waqf services like assigning individuals for the maintenance of the waterways and ensuring that the water tanks were kept full. Of the different means of supplying water stated above, bi’r-i-ma was preferred by the waqfs. According to the tables provided above, a total of 654 water-wells were donated, which means that there was one well for approximately every 3.71 homes.


(Fırın) is the Greek name for an oven with a single opening in the front and an arched roof, in which generally wood is burned, and which is used to cook bread, cakes and so on by creating a consistent temperature throughout the oven. (Türk Dil Kurumu (Turkish Language Association), henceforth referred to as TDK)


(a. derived from tabh) Kitchen (DE). A place where soup is cooked, a soup kitchen (RM).

In FV2, ovens inside the house are only mentioned in two places. (p. 226 chapter 156 and p. 225 chapter 153) When researching the percentages of places, such as kitchens and bakeries, in which food is to be cooked in the İVTD, 414 bakeries and 71 kitchens appear; the bakery was a unit preferred almost six times more than the kitchen. In addition, some of these bakeries were distinguished as bread bakeries and simit (Turkish bagel) bakeries. However, the numbers of bakeries, in fact the numbers of these two units in total, were not even sufficient to meet the basic needs of cooking food. Although it appears that there was one cooking unit for every 5 houses, the explanation for this may be sought in the multifunctionality of the rooms. Because the examples of ovens in the tradition of Ottoman-Turk residences, which have survived until the present or were recorded, were classified as sufficient for cooking, the low volume of private cooking spaces seems to be justified.


(a) Turkish baths, baths (DE). A place to bathe (KT).

In the İVTD, there are only twenty-seven hamams or Turkish baths classified inside the residences; when this is divided between the total numbers of homes this is not a significant result. However, the low numbers of private Turkish baths should not be surprising, because for a culture in which the Turkish baths were a social gathering place, in which bathing was, to a certain extent, a social event, the idea of a private hamam would not be of great importance.

Additionally, many of the public hamams in the records defined above, which were not located in private homes, were charitable foundations. In fact, as in the case of the masjids, sometimes the neighborhoods were also named after the hamams. (Azebler Hamamı Mahallesi).


(f) Barn, stable (DE).

In view of the 481 barns listed in the İVTD, it appears that there was one barn for every five houses. In such a situation, although it is unlikely that livestock was bred in the city, clearly animals were used in the city for transportation purposes. Schweigger mentions that the roads were narrow, and because vehicles were unable to pass through these narrow roads, even the construction of houses was carried out with materials transported by animals; he claims that this was the reason for the high house prices.


(a) A place in which objects are kept; an underground space, basement, an unventilated, dark place (DE). A place or room for merchandise and goods (RM).


A Greek name, the underground section of a structure (TDK).


(f) Pantry/larder (DE) A mahzen or large cupboard or storeroom intended to preserve supplies, various provisions and beverages (KT).


(a) A space intended to store and preserve provisions and grains (KT).

Zir-i zemin

(f) Underground (DE), a low and dark place (RM).


(f) A deep, underground room to take shelter from the extreme heat in hot countries, a triangular hall on the left or right of the sultan’s palaces containing one or more rooms (DE). An underground space originally to keep water cold, an underground room to sit in hot countries (KT). A room to cool water, open area (RM).

In FV, there are 47 mahzen (underground spaces and basements) in total, and it appears that there was one mahzen or basement for every ten dwelling places. But when the units listed above are totaled, it appears that there are 247 underground storage units; these numbers establish a rate of one unit for every ten homes.


(f) Watermill (DE).

In the waqf deeds, derivations of word such as Asiyab-ı ester (mule), Asiyab-ı feres (horse), Asiyab-ı esb (workhorse), Asiyab-ı gendüm (wheat-mill) and Asiyabı palamut (acorn-mill) are mentioned. However, while asiyabs or watermills were facilities donated independently and operated like the hamams, the reason why these were not included in the statistics here was because they were a division of residences. These mills are significant in terms that they establish that grinding was also carried out in the city. In fact, among the various commodities donated, a derivative named Asiyab-ı dest, which was probably a smaller version, could even be found.

Arz-ı Haliye

Arz (a) world, earth (DE)+ hâli, hâliye (a) a secluded, empty, uninhabited place (DE).


(f) Orchard/garden (bağ and the reducing suffix, çe; meaning “small orchard” (DE).


Jannah/Paradise (a) to fly; a garden, an extremely comfortable and spacious place (DE). Cüneyne is the derivative of Jannah with the Arabic reducing suffix. This means small paradise, small heaven or small garden.


(a) Grape stem, grapevine; vine stock, vineyard, earth that is difficult to plough due to shrubbery (DE). Orchard (RM)

Eşcar-ı Müsmire

Eşcar (a) Trees (DE) + Müsmire (a) fruitful, that which produces fruit, fruit (DE); fruit trees.

Although units such as the vineyards, uninhabited places and Turkish baths are classified as independent, small gardens and orchards are units that are found frequently. With a total of 426 orchard/garden units, there is approximately one garden/orchard space for every home.

Inhabited Units


(a) Stopping over places on the roadside, house, a day’s journey, residence (DE). A place to lodge, to stay overnight on a journey, a stopping place, place of residency, mansion, dwelling, home (KT).

Although menzil generally emerges as an expansive superstructure which contains other units, there are exceptions in which separate examples are used as a single unit.


(Hücre) Division, small room (DE). Small room, chamber. A small cupboard with no doors in older style rooms, close to the door; these were designed for glasses, ornaments and the like (KT). Small room (RM).


(t) Separate sections of a house, division (KT).


Canopy, a wooden covered hall (RM). Zıll (a) Shade, protection (KT). Canopy, shade, protection (DE).


A communal hall in the center of a house with doors leading to the rooms, a large hall; a wall of stone designed to sit beside a door/gate or fountain etc. (KT). A shaded place to sit (a) hall (DE).


(t) An open porch/attic of a house, an open fronted area with a covered roof to shelter animals, agricultural equipment and tools (KT).


(a) Hall, corridor (DE).


[Plural of hait meaning wall in Arabic] Covered yard/courtyard, the space between the main entrance and stairs, stone paved entrance or courtyard (KT). Hıyat, (a) Screens, barriers, obstacles (DE). Protect, preserve. A space in front of the entrance and beneath a canopy (RM).

The word hayat is not related to the term that originates from hayy meaning “life” or existence. When researching the derivation of this in DE and KT, the word hait is given for the derivation of hayat. Whereas in KT, the meaning of the word hait is defined as “wall, partition” and in this entry of the dictionary, havt is given as the origin of the word. At the same time, havt is also the root word for muhavvata mentioned above. In contemporary Turkish, the term “to enclose” and these words also derive from the same root word. The meaning obtained from the root word is a protected, private area not including the rooms, a kind of yard/courtyard.


(a) Mansion, luxurious dwelling, palace (DE). Mansion, a lofty, decorated building with an excursion area (KT). A summerhouse, a room of stone (RM).


(a+t)A sectionreserved for guests in large mansions(DE). The sections of large apartments and mansions used to welcome/entertain males and male guests, the equivalent of the harem (KT).


Mehtabiye An open top arbor designed to sit under the moonlight.


(f) A bay window, balcony (DE).


Çartak (f) Arbor, a square tent (DE). Çar (four)+tak (arch), four arches (a cover on four posts).


(f) House (DE).


(a) Residence, dwelling, house, room, tent (DE). Room (RM).


(t) A space where humans live independently as a family which can be made of stone, timber or wood, a house, residence, abode, dwelling place (KT).

The main habitation units that appear in the waqf deeds are defined by names such as house, residence or dwelling place. If these residences were on the top floor this was specified using the name fevkanî or ulvî, and if they were on the ground floor this was defined using süfli or tahtânî. Initially, deliberation was given to a probable distinction between these terms, however, in terms of usage there was no distinction found between hane-beyt-ev, fevkanî-ulvî, süfli-tahtânî in the waqf deeds. In fact, beyt was used when listing the units of a home, but we see that the same beyt in the waqf conditions was later referred to as hane or ev in İVTD repeatedly.


(a) Arbor, mansion, balcony, bay window/alcove (DE). Alcove, balcony, bay window (KT). Gurfe-i âliyye: Upper arbor, similar to a bay window (RM).

What Gurfe actually meant in that period was discussed within the living space studies. According to the data acquired, there were many references defining that a gurfe was used as a unit entirely for habitation as in the case of a house rather than being semi-open space like a balcony or arbor.


1 Ömer Lutfi Barkan and Ekrem Hakkı Ayverdi (prepared by), İstanbul Vakıfları Tahrir Defteri 953 (1546) Tarihli, Istanbul: İstanbul Fetih Cemiyeti İstanbul Enstitüsü, 1970.

2 Fatih Mehmet II Vakfiyeleri, Ankara: Vakıflar Umum Müdürlüğü Neşriyatı, 1938.

This article was translated from Turkish version of History of Istanbul with some editions to be published in a digitalized form in 2019.

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