In the era of Orhan Gazi, approximately one hundred years before the conquest of Istanbul, as Ottoman dominance spread to the area along the north shore of İzmit Bay, up to Göztepe, stretching as far as the Byzantine border, some tekkes were established; these had the nature of advanced outposts. This meant that the first seeds of mystical life were scattered in the immediate vicinity of Istanbul. Şahkulu Tekke, which was similar to other examples, was established in Merdivenköy and affiliated with the Bektashi; this was the longest lasting of the aforementioned establishments. The Bektashi affiliated Şehitler Tekke, which was established next to the Rumeli Fortress shortly before the conquest, is the oldest historical Sufi establishment on the European side.

Following the conquest of Istanbul, as with all foundations under Ottoman dominion, the tarikats also began to become organized in and around the new capital city, where they established centers of activity. Included in these were Şeyh Mehmet Geylanî (Bursa) Tekke in Bahçekapı, Akbıyık Tekke in Cankurtaran and Akbaba Tekke in Beykoz; these were centers of activities for tekke sheikhs who had personally participated in the siege with the dervishes, and can be regarded as pioneering establishments. As a result of the tasawwuf activities carried out by the tekkes from the time of the conquest until they were closed in 1925, hundreds of tarikat buildings were established in Istanbul and its immediate vicinity. This concentration, which occurred almost simultaneously with the Turks’ acceptance of Islam in Central Asia, is not only the result of the heritage of tasawwuf, particularly that from the Khorasan region, a trend that has continued until today, but also of the vast size and crowded nature of Istanbul and the long lasting dynasty and ruling class of the Ottoman Empire; this does not include those who were alleged to have acted in opposition to the state law or shariah. It is also the product of positive relations established with the tarikats, and multifaceted factors (historical, social, cultural and economic) that have become interwoven over the centuries.

1- The Dome of Rock, an axonometric drawing

Various terms are used for the tarikat buildings found in Istanbul and its surroundings; these include âsitane, dergâh, hankâh, tekke, zaviye. Of these terms dergâh, hankâh and tekke do not correspond to a particular tarikat, nor do they refer to a functional difference or a particular architectural type. The clearest evidence of this is that Ottoman poets, who tended to avoid repeating words, used all of the above-mentioned terms to refer to the same building in some of their works. Of all of these terms, tekke has always been the most common and inclusive.

However, there are terms which describe specific tarikat foundations, such as Gülşenîhane, Kalenderhane, Kadirîhane or Mevlevîhane. Moreover, âsitane and zaviye refer to tekkes in Istanbul that were affiliated to tarikats. That is, âsitanes, which were the center of a specific tarikat or tarikat branch in Istanbul, were generally extensive and comprehensive foundations. When the tomb of the pir or founder of a tarikat or tarikat branch (pîr or pîr-i sânî) was included in the structure, it would be referred to as pir evi/pir makamı. Zaviyes that were affiliated with âsitanes were usually smaller, more comprehensive foundations.

2- The schema of the Little Ayasofya Sufi Lodge (Wolfgang Müller – Wiener)

As for the meaning of the terms âsitane and zaviye in the Mevlevî tarikat, which was directed from the tekke formed around the tomb of Rumi in Konya, it is slightly different from the meaning in other tarikats. The Mevlevî âsitanes were fully fledged establishments in which students who had completed the 1001-day service period, known as çile, could aspire to earn the position of dede. As for the Mevlevî zaviyes, in which members and followers gathered, these were establishments in which the mukabele icra was performed and which provided shelter and food for traveller dervishes.

3- The schema of the Sufi lodge in Sokullu Mehmed Paşa Complex (Kulliyah) in Kadırga (Wolfgang Müller – Wiener)

However, except in the Mevlevîhanes, a distinction between the architectural programme and design of the âsitane and zaviye was not always apparent. In some cases, a zaviye could have a strong economic infrastructure and social environment due to the nature of the sheikh, and could overshadow the âsitane to which it was affiliated. For example, among the zaviyes affiliated to the Sa‘dî Sufi order in Istanbul in the nineteenth century, the Hasırîzade Tekke in Sütlüce was more prestigious than the Abdüsselam Tekke in Koska, the âsitane of the same tarikat. Hasırîzade Sheikh Mehmed Elif Efendi, the head of the Meclis-i Meşayih (council of sheikhs), was dismissed from the post of postnişin at Abdüsselam Tekke due to improper behaviour; his older brother, Sheikh Yusuf Zahir Efendi was appointed in his place.

When discussing the architecture of the Istanbul tekkes, one matter that should be considered is the method in which buildings designed for other purposes were converted into tekkes; this was known as vaz‘-ı meşihat (placing the sheikh) in Ottoman sources. The earliest records of these structures are of Byzantine monasteries and churches that were converted into mosques-tekkes in the periods following the conquest and the era of Mehmed II (1451-1481), and more particularly those that were carried out during the reign of Bayezid II (1481-1512). Thus, sacred focal points were ingrained in the collective subconscious and kept alive for the local people in a new Islamic guise by creating the buildings that were necessary for the religious-mystical life in newly conquered cities; at the same time the şenlendirme (sequencing) policy, inherited from the Turkic states that were predecessors to the Ottomans (especially from the Ottoman Seljuks), continued. The tekkes that come to mind first in this context are Kalenderhane (Theotokos Kyriotissa Church) Koca Mustafa Paşa/Sünbül Efendi (St Andreas Monastery), Küçük Ayasofya (St Sergius and Bacchus Church) and Akşemseddin (Hristos Pantokrator Monastery).

4- The Sufi lodge in Sokullu Mehmed Paşa Complex in Kadırga from the yard at the western side (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, The archive of the city Council, 1935)

The types of structure which were vaz‘-ı meşihat are of a later date than the monasteries and churches; however, mosques and mescits were more numerous. In particular, from the seventeenth century onwards, when there was an increase in the number of tekkes, a large number of sheikhs were placed in mosques and mescits. At the same time, there are examples of activities being carried out in places that were to start with residences or madrasas, like Düğümlü Baba Tekke in Sultanahmet, and even in the infrastructure of İbrahim Paşa Palace.

It is not possible to determine with certainty when all the tekkes were established in Istanbul or its immediate vicinity, nor the number of sections that were active at any given time. Such a determination will only be possible if a complete cultural inventory of Istanbul is created. At the present time, it is possible to say that during the 100 years following the conquest of Istanbul there were approximately 75 tekkes, as listed in the 953 (1546) edition of İstanbul Vakıfları Tahrir Defteri. Based on information about the number of Istanbul tekkes, it seems that this number fluctuated between 250 and 300 throughout the city and its immediate vicinity from the end of the eighteenth century until the closure of the tekkes (1784-1925).

The distribution between the tekkes also fluctuated over time. Notwithstanding, it can be said that since the mid-sixteenth century the Halwati and Nakshibandi always had the largest number of tekkes, while the Qadiri, Rıfai, Sa‘di and Jalwati, Badawi, Bayrami, Mawlawi, Bektashi and Shazali follow. However, tekke units should not be considered as the only criterion in determining the importance of the tekke in society or cultural life. As the clearest example of this, in spite of there being no more than five Mevlevîhanes in Istanbul during the same time period, the capital had an exceptional position in the Mawlawi culture. Likewise, despite the relatively limited number of Bektashi tekkes, due to the relationship the tarikat had established with the Janissaries, this too occupied an important place in Istanbul.

The role of the tekkes were driven by various factors, such as the distribution of tekkes in and around the city, the population and housing characteristics of Istanbul, the dispositions of the representatives of the tekkes, their relationships with a number of institutions and the cultural politics of the state. That is, the tekkes were concentrated particularly in districts inhabited by Muslims, while it could be observed that such institutions were lower in non-Muslim neighborhoods, where they would be located in areas that were allocated for trade and crafts.

5- The general view of the Sufi lodge in Atik Valide Complex (Kulliya) (The archive of the Religious Foundations, 1970s)

Meanwhile, some examples, such as Piyale Paşa Tekke in Kasımpaşa, make it possible to identify that some külliyes (complexes) were allocated for this purpose in the framework of settlements envisioned by the administration. On the other hand, criticism of the madrasas and ham sofular (raw devotee) led to material for gossip. Also, the construction of Bektashi and Mevlevî tekkes on large tracts of land almost entirely outside the city and in “peaceful and serene” locations demonstrated the need for an extensive programmatic structure.

Moreover, before and during the conquest of Istanbul, a section of tekkes were able to maintain key strategic importance in Istanbul; in a similar way, the presence of a Bektashi tekke in the Yeni Odalar building, within the large new barracks constructed for the Janissaries, reflects the close relationship that this tekke had with official military life from the beginning of the sixteenth century.

On the other hand, no tekke was established after this date due to the presence of the Bâb-ı Meşîhat from 1826 in the Süleymaniye district; this was an area inhabited primarily by scholarly individuals. This was probably due to an effort to maintain a distance in madrasa-tekke relations. From the formation of the Bâb-ı Meşîhat until the beginning of the 19th century, following the Tanzimat, although sharing many activities with the tarikat members, this institution managed to create a greater distance from the tarikats than had been possible in the past. In the second half of the nineteenth century, the absence of tekkes and tombs in the burgeoning alafranga Muslim districts was reflected in the fabric of the city.

6- Bayram Paşa Sufi Lodge, the southern wing of the portico in the yard (Hakan  Arlı, 1988)

Tekkes appeared in the region known as nefs-i İstanbul in Ottoman sources, or as tarihî yarımada (historical peninsula) today; they were scattered throughout the section encircled by the walls, the area separated by the Sur-ı Sultanî to Topkapı Palace and the large market area that extended from Kapalıçarşı (the Grand Bazaar) to the Golden Horn and outside the non-Muslim neighborhoods. In particular, the sparsely inhabited belt that extends from Yedikule to Ayvansaray and is surrounded by the walls, which until recently was covered with gardens, the districts of Beyazıt to Edirnekapı, which are placed on an axis from the Golden Horn to the inclining slopes of Bayrampaşa Creek (Vatan Street) and the environs of Aksaray, and the districts along the axis from Aksaray to Kocamustafapaşa all constitute the most concentrated areas for tekkes. Moreover, the area, a large part of which was covered by a graveyard and surrounded by the walls from the Marmara Sea to the Golden Horn – the latter passing inside this area and stretching to Eyüp – and which extended along the Edirnekapı-Otakçılar route, Eyüp (particularly the areas of Nişancı and İdrisköşkü), the districts on the north side of the Golden Horn (particularly Sütlüce with part of Hasköy), Kasımpaşa, the Muslim districts formed between Galata and Beşiktaş (Tophane, Cihangir, Fındıklı, Kabataş), Beşiktaş and Üsküdar were all also places with a high density of tekkes. Tekkes were to be found in some villages on the other side of the Bosphorus (Rumelihisarı, Emirgan, Yeniköy, Sarıyer, Beykoz, Anadoluhisarı, Beylerbeyi and Çengelköy) and in the promenade area surrounding Kadıköy (Yoğurtçu Çayırı and Merdivenköy).

7- The general view of Şeyhülislam Sufi Lodge (M. Baha Tanman, 1982)

At the basis of the architectural program that appears with the Istanbul tekkes lie the aforementioned functions of the institutions mentioned above. These can be listed as worship, education, housing, nutrition, hygiene and transport. The functions that are derived from the first three (worship, education and housing) - which form the entire complex - are as follows:

  • The units that are referred to as worship-ritual, that is, the rituals performed in the tarikat, the five daily prayers, or when applicable, lectures such as the discussion of the Mesnevî in the Mevlevîhanes, a number of religious gatherings, such as the mevlit or hatim gatherings, the meydan of the Bektashis, the semahane of the Mawlawis, and the tevhidhane of other tarikats.
  • The meydan-ı şerif, where the murakebe is performed after breakfast, which consists of the çörek, that is, a morsel of bread and coffee; this is unique to the Mevlevîhanes.
  • Principally with Khalwat tariqat, the existence of a halvethane in tekkes where halwat (seclusion) is performed.
  • The existence of a hazire (enclosed graveyard) where the pirs of the tarikat and the postnişins of the tekkes and their family members are buried; members of the tekke and associates are also buried here.
  • 8- Hacı Beşir Ağa Sufi Lodge, the northern wing of the portico in the yard (Istanbul University, The archive of the Department of History of Arts, 1974)

  • The harem, where the sheikhs and their families reside, and where female visitors, whether they were affiliated with the tarikat or not, would be received.
  • The selamlık, which would be made up of a number of sections, including a şeyh odası (sheikh’s room) where male guests would be received and where sohbet and meşk gatherings would be held; a zakirbaşı room where the zakirbaşı, who conducted the music in the rituals, would rest, where he would receive visitors, where the musical rehearsals would be held, and where the musical instruments used in rituals were stored; a meydan odası where the dervishes would sit and chat among themselves; the kahve ocağı where the coffee that would be presented to guests would be prepared under the supervision of the kahve nakibi.
  • A mabeyin room (a hallway separating the women’s quarters from the men’s quarters), which would be suitable for kaçgöç (practice of Muslim women veiling their faces and avoiding contact with non-mahram men), which acts as a link between the selamlık (part of the house reserved for men) to the harem.
  • Derviş hücres (cells), which were known as dedegân hücres in the Mevlevîhanes, where the dervishes who resided at the tekke would stay.
  • Units to put up guests, principally travelling dervishes; these were known as mihman evis (guest house) in the Bektaşî tekkes, or as mihmanhanes or misafirhanes (guesthouse) in others.
  • A kitchen where those residing in the tekke would eat on a number of occasions (weekly ceremonies, kandil nights, Ramadan iftar, aşure gatherings in the month of Muharram, etc.), and where guests and poor people would be addressed. It operated like an ordinary domestic kitchen on ordinary days, however, if necessary, it could work as an imaret (soup kitchen) and in the Mevlevihanes this would also be where the sema rehearsals would be held. In the Mevlevihanes, this room was known as the matbah-ı şerif, while in the Bektashi tekkes it was called the aşevi. It would be located on the selamlik side and was the kitchen of the dervishes who served under the aşçı dede.
  • The pantry, known as the kiler evi, where complementary elements for the kitchen and supplies were stored, and where a variety of other goods belonging to the tekke would be stored in the Bektaşî tekkes.
  • 9- Mustafa Paşa Sufi Lodge, The view from the tevhidhane section of the mosque   to the rooms of the dervishes (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, The archive o the city Council, 1935)

  • An oven for baking bread (ekmek evi in Bektashis).
  • A taamhane (common dining hall), known as a somathane in the Mevlevîhanes.
  • A şerbethane, which would be found in the larger facilities, particularly in the Mawlawi asitanes; şerbet would be prepared here.
  • The harem mutfağı (kitchen) in which all the needs of the residents of the harem would be met.
  • Beehives (zenbur evi in Bektashis); these would be present in tekkes that were outside the city.
  • A hamam (bath) and gusülhane (bath cubicle) in the sections of the selamlık and harem so that the residents could fulfill their hygiene requirements.
  • Places for taking ablution that could range from a simple line of taps to an ablution basin and şadırvan (fountain used for ritual ablutions).
  • Toilets.
  • In some large tekkes there would be a laundry.
  • A water tank, reservoir and well to meet water needs.
  • As transport in old Istanbul was primarily carried out with horses, donkeys or horse-drawn vehicles there would be stables (at evi in Bektashis).
  • A pier and boathouse for those tekkes located on the seafront.
  • Tali (secondary) sections existed in some tekkes which were of a tekke complex nature; these sections, which demonstrate independent lines of development in our history, answered the variety of society’s needs as well as fulfilling the activities of the tarikat; these could include a muvakkithane (clockroom), kütüphane (library), sıbyan mektebi (primary school), darülkurra (school for reciting the Qur’an), fountain and sebil.

10- Hacı Evhad Sufi Lodge, the prayer niche side of the tevhidhane section of the   mosque (M. Baha Tanman, 1982)

In this context, another issue that should be noted in the tekkes was that the functions of worship, education and shelter were integrated and often took place in the same section. This feature stems from the education system of the tekkes. Indeed, in these facilities not only was the traditional madrasa education completely different from secular education of Western origin, with weight being given to practice rather than theory, with an effort to “change for perfection” rather than to “teach something to the student”, but also was an education that had the initiative quality, which is referred to as seyr-i süluk in Tasawwuf terminology. This education included affection, worship, service, conversation, contemplation, solitude, such as mystical contemplation, and was a “secret” between the dervish and the sheikh that is learned through “living” not through “being educated.

The center of the functional scheme of the Istanbul tekkes was the facility referred to as the tekke; this was where the tarikat activities were performed, and where special functions were realized, but which was under the supervision of the members of the tarikat. Some of these offered accommodation for dervishes who had come to Istanbul from areas that were outside the Ottoman borders, most of whom were bachelors. Moreover, via the sheikhs, who were perceived as being a type of honorary consul, the necessary political connections would be made with the region in question, and thus the tekkes became both a guesthouse and a communication center. The Özbek, Hindî and Afghan tekkes, as demonstrated by their names, can be included in this group.

11- The plan of Tahir Ağa Sufi Lodge (M. Baha Tanman, 1982)

Moreover, as with the Mesnevîhane Tekke in Fatih-Çarşamba, a tekke which provided Masnawi education even though it was affiliated with the Naqshabandis, there were tekkes that specialized in providing education in certain subjects.

On the other hand, the Miskinler Tekke in Üsküdar operated as a kind of leprosy hospital, while the Hatuniye Tekke in Eyüp İdrisköşkü housed elderly women with no relatives, and the Pehlivanlar Tekke in Unkapanı occupied an important place in the history of Ottoman sports, and instruction in wrestling and archery was given at the Okçular Tekke in Okmeydanı.

In addition to these, we can see that some mesire (recreational areas) had been transferred to the members of some tekkes; or more accurately the care and hosting of visitors. Among the most famous of these are the Caferabad and Hasanabad tekkes, located behind Sütlüce, as well as Akbaba Tekke on the way to Beykoz-Dereseki.

With the exception of the central square in the Bektashi tekkes, the majority of tevhidhanes and semahanes of tekkes that belonged to other tarikats carried out the functions of a masjid, some even having mosques. The fact that these areas were formed in a masjid-mosque design is connected with the principles of Islamic worship.

The most important aspect that affects the design of ritual spaces is the expression of the material-mortal world, which is reflected with the spiritual-eternal world in the areas that are under discussion; these are reflections that are like a type of “mystical microcosm”, representing the entire universe and conceptualizing various mystical and cosmic symbols in their design. The courtyard house of the Şahkulu Sultan Tekke, affiliated with the Bektashi, the organisation which dates back to the era of Orhan Gazi, although the present structure dates to the nineteenth century, is of such a design; the decagonal plan and decoration which is integral to this design have been formed according to the number twelve, which derives from the sanctity of this number as part of the Bektashis “twelve imams” cult. Moreover, a column rises in the middle of the space that is covered by an umbrella vault, which is called dâr-ı Mansur in commemoration of ene’l-hakk şehidi Hallac-ı Mansur, and which represents the shortest path to God. In the same way, the number 18, which was Rumi’s ‘lucky’ number and which is known by the Mawlawis as nezr-i Mevlana, can be seen in the number of wooden posts that surround the semahane in the Yenikapı and Bahariye Mevlevîhanes.

12- Selimiye Sufi Lodge, the side of the tevhidhane section of the mosque and
    the wooden sultanate mansion (Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation Photograph
    Collection, 1930s)

13- Saçlı Emir Sufi Lodge, the wall of the prayer niche of the tevhidhane section of the   mosque (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, The archive of the city Council, 1949)

14- Üsküdar Mawlawi Lodge, the plans of the ground floor (tomb) and upstairs (sama hall) (Barihüda Tanrıkorur)

15- Hasırizade Sufi Lodge, The main door of tevhidhane (M. Baha Tanman, 1976)

The choreographic characteristics of the tarikat rituals also played an important role in shaping the ritual spaces (particularly in tekkes that included mosque-tekke qualities and which were only used by the followers of the tarikat). In this context, the ritual choreography of the tarikats that spread in Istanbul can be roughly divided in two; this grouping can be made on the basis of the cultural origins of the tarikat. In the tarikats that emerged in a Turkish cultural environment or which were influenced by this environment with changes taking place over time (Bayramiyya, Bektashiyya, Jalwatiyya, Gülshaniyya, Khalvatiyya, Mawlawiyya and Zayniyya with the Ashraf and Rumi branches of the Qadiriyya) the dominant motif in the rituals is a circle motif. Among the abovementioned tarikats, the Halvetiya along with the Bayramiya and Gülşeniya, which were separated from the first, and the Rumiye branch of the Qadiriye that was formed under the influence of the Bayrami, as well as the Zayni were known as devranî tarikats because of the devran zikirs (turning dhikr), the most characteristic section of the ritual. The ritual in devranî tarikats, from the beginning to the end, consists of dervishes in a space known as zikir halkaları (dhikr circles) around a center, known as the kutuphane (Figure 1). The rituals in the Bektashiyya, Mawlaviyya and Nakshibandiyya, although not directly included in the devranî tarikats, were also dominated by the form of a circle.

16- Bahariye Mawlawi Lodge, the general view of the Golden Horn (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, The archive of the city Council, 1933)

On the other hand, in the Middle East and North Africa, among the Arabs or Arabized peoples there were Badawiyya, Rifaiyya, Sa‘diyya and Shazeliyya tarikats, as well as branches of the Qadiriyya known as kıyamî tarikats; other groups have appeared outside of Anatolia. The ritual of kıyam zikrinin is the most important distinguishing characteristic of the dervish rituals in these tarikats; the saff-ı zikir, which is carried out perpendicular and parallel to the mihrab wall, takes the place of the halka-i zikir of the devranî tarikats (figure 2).

However, with only this distinction in mind, it is not possible to classify all the ritual spaces of the Istanbul tekkes, or more precisely to identify the architectural style with such a classification. The ritual forms were not the only factor that gave shape to these sections, the majority of which were used as a mescit or mosque at the same time. However, from the eighteenth century in Istanbul, the fusion observed between tarikats led to ritual forms being transferred from one tarikat to another. Nevertheless, it can be seen that in some tekkes affiliated with the devranî tarikats, the allocated space for the ritual was designed as polygons or circles, while in the majority of tekkes associated with kıyamî tarikats, the rectangle with a square is preferred.

At the same time, the effect that led to polygon shapes, in particular, the octagon, as the most common, can be explained by a number of factors; first of all, this number corresponds to values that are found in Sufi symbolism and the octagon has a deep past in Anatolian Turkish architecture. Moreover, the effect of the Qubbet al-Sakhra (Dome of the Rock) (Figure 3) in Jerusalem, which consists of an octagon prism in shape and is important for Sufis as a commemoration of the Miraj, while the fact that the octagon design scheme could be observed in the martyrions that were associated with the cult of saints in some special sectarian churches in which a circular procession would be performed, as well as in more common churches in Early Christian architecture is also important. Some of these churches were used by members of the Halwaltiya tarikat from the beginning of the sixteenth century in Istanbul, for example St. Sergios and Bakhos Church (Küçük Ayasofya Mosque/tekke) (Figure 4).

On the other hand, the place that the ritual spaces occupied in the scheme of the tekke, its connection with other sections and the main entrance is reflected in the design as well as by the secondary doors that open onto the selamlık and harem. Furthermore, in addition to space for the participants of the rites themselves, a separate area was necessary for the directors of music and the audience. By closing the main ritual space, a two-story place for men and women spectators, a space, known as mıtrıp maksuresi, for music lovers in the Mevlevîhanes, and a gallery for the sultan were all included in the design in some important tekkes that were visited by sultans.

17- Hasırizade Sufi Lodge, the embellishments of the upper private pews and ceiling in tevhidhane (Hulusi Tanman, 1976)

We offered the layout of a trial typology as a basis for Istanbul tekkes; examples are grouped according to the connections of the sections with one another. Among the factors that influence the layout is the functional scheme of the tekke. In this context, given the nature of the institutions of the mosque-tekke, ritual spaces, which could also be used as a mosque by the people, were separated from the other sections of the tekke. Therefore, an isolated space for “everyone” who required certain privacy in tekke life was provided. In order to facilitate the traffic of sheikhs, harem residents, female and male visitors, and dervishes as much as possible, the ritual space, selamlık and harem sections were brought close together and a direct link was established between them. In addition, to avoid women and men meeting (preserving purdah) elements such as a chamber room and an independent women’s entrance were introduced. There was also a separate entrance to the sultan’s gallery, while removed sections, such as the harem’s kitchen, taamhane, selamlık and meydan-ı şerif were built close together, and wet spaces were designed together to make plumbing easier. The placing of the water reservoir in a nearby location and other similar issues resulted from the functions of tekkes and corresponded to the intricate scheme of relations, partly due to religious sensibilities, partly due to local traditions, and also due to a certain desire for comfort and convenience.

18- Cemalizade Sufi Lodge, the plan of the prayer house and tevhidhane ( M. Baha Tanman)

19- The plan of Yenikapı Mawlawi Lodge (Barihüda Tanrıkorur)

Another important aspect that shaped the relationship between places in the tekkes was the origin of the concepts from within the tarikats and their traditions. Particularly during the Ottoman period, the tomb-ritual place connection of the tekkes which became alamet-i farikası (trademark) can be explained by the different views that tasawwuf offers about death.

20- General view of Yenikapı Mawlawi Lodge (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, The archive of the city Council, 1940)

We can gather the tekkes of Istanbul into three main groups according to the outline of the layout and design:

21- Yenikapı Mawlawi Lodge, the view from sema hall to the tomb (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, The archive of the city Council, 1940)

The tekkes of group I are all made of brick and, in terms of layout, are Ottoman madrasas with open courtyards and porches; the mosque-madrasa, a derivative thereof, provides a parallel to these two. The open-top courtyard constitutes a central design, on the one hand forming the inner world of tekke life; however, communication is maintained in the surroundings between the worship-ritual space, the dervish cells, the selamlık spaces, and sometimes between the kitchen-taamhane and bath sections. The abovementioned templates can be seen to create a number of variants by being repeated. Almost all of the tekkes included in this group have a harem which acts as the residence of the sheikh and his family; this is separated from the area used by the dervishes, which surrounded the courtyard. The wooden harem building would be built independently of the dervishes’ residences. The central courtyard had a şadırvan or was equipped with ablution faucets. The toilets were always centered around a small courtyard that was separate due to obvious inconveniences and were distanced from the units of worship, housing and food.

22- Kadirihane Sufi Lodge the northern wall of the mosque and tevhidhane and upper private pews (Özkan Ertuğrul, 1989)

23- Kadirihane Sufi Lodge, a view from the closed graveyard to mosque-tevhidhane and the section for men (selamlık (M. Baha Tanman, 1989)

Among Koca Sinan’s works are the tekkes Sokullu Mehmed Paşa Külliye in Kadırga with Atik Valide Külliyesi in Üsküdar (1570’s) (figure 5, 6, 7). Also, Bayram Paşa Tekke in Haseki (1635) (figure 8), Çorlulu Ali Paşa Tekke in Çarşıkapı (1709), Şeyhülislam Tekke in Eyüp (1745) (figure 9), Hacı Beşir Ağa Tekke in Bâbıâli (1745) (figure 10), Mustafa Paşa Tekke in Otakçılar (1753) (figure 11) and Tahir Ağa Tekke in Fatih-Haydar (1761) (figure 12) are examples of this group.

In the tekkes that are included in group II, the section of worship-ritual could sometimes be designed adjacent to the tomb section; the other sections were usually to the north, near the courtyard şadırvan. A single arrangement around the courtyard did not exist, but rather there was a scattered design. Cemeteries with tombs are usually located to the west, east and north of the worship-rite sections. It is also possible to divide this group into two subgroups. Mosque-tevhidhanes, which make up the sub-group II A; the vast majority of these are mosque-tekkes. The courtyard şadırvan, which is completely abstracted from the other tekke units, is placed in the direction of the qibla; the lodge sections, except the harem, are interspersed freely among the other aspects of the courtyard. Most of these mosques-tekkes are made up of scattered regular small complexes. Since 1925, mosque-tevhidhanes have survived as functioning mosques, the masonry walls and wooden roof designs of the mentioned sections resemble the typical Ottoman mosque. Furthermore, the dual function (mosque-tekke) has almost never been addressed, in spite of the mosque or mescid being the most mentioned structure in art history literature and most Ottoman sources, especially the anthologies of Sinan and Hadîkatü’l-cevâmi‘ in particular. The harem apartments in this subgroup are usually located far from the courtyard şadırvan.

24- Galata Mawlawi Lodge, the (north) side of the entrance to the sema hall (M. Baha Tanman, 1985)

Among many structures, the following can be mentioned: Ferruh Kethüda Tekke in Balat (1563), designed by Koca Sinan, Hacı Evhad Tekke in Yedikule (1585) (figure 13) and Bezirgân Tekke in Kocamustafapaşa (1586) (figure 14); examples from the later period include Selimiye Tekke in Üsküdar (renovated in 1836)1 (figure 15) and Devatî Mustafa Efendi Tekke (renovated in the second half of the nineteenth century).

The only difference in the examples between these and those that make up the II-B subgroup are the juxtaposed places of worship-rite of the tombs. Thus, a portion of the architectural features of the mescid or mosque when stripped away presents a unique feature of tarikat architecture. Şah Sultan Tekke (1556) in Eyüp, Saçlı Emir Tekke (end of sixteenth century) in Kasımpaşa (figure 16), Bursa Tekke Eminönü (renovated 1830) (figure 17), Üsküdar Mevlevîhane (renovated 1872) (figure 18), Bahariye Mevlevîhane (1877) (figure 19), Hasırîzade Tekke Sütlüce (renovated 1888) (figure 20-21) and Cemalîzade Tekke in Eğrikapı (renovated 1817 and 1905) (figure 22) can be mentioned in this context. The tombs in Saçlı Emir Tekke and Cemalîzade Tekke, the back of the mihrab and the sections between the tevhidhane were built without a separator wall. However, after the closure of the tekkes, the aforementioned structures began to be used solely as mosques, and as this organization was no longer agreeable, a separator wall was built. The tombs in Hasırîzade Tekke and Bahariye Mevlevîhane are located to the east and west in the ritual spaces; in the first instance there is a wall with a large supplication window, while in the second instance there is a wooden railing. Of these examples, Bursa Tekke and Üsküdar Mevlevîhane not only demonstrate a different characteristic from the others with the tombs being located under the ritual spaces, but the design in question is also reminiscent of the domes from pre-Ottoman Anatolian Turkish architecture.

25- A general view of Kasımpaşa Mawlawi Lodge (Bige Özkan, 1967)

26- The schema of Kasımpaşa Mawlawi Lodge (Barihüda Tanrıkorur)

It is possible to describe the III group, which forms the most representative example in Istanbul, as ev-tekkeler (house-lodges). The sections for worship (tevhidhane-semahane, tomb) in the aforementioned tekkes were included and combined either completely or partially in the same part as the sections for daily life (selamlık, harem, dervish rooms, kitchen, taamhane, etc.). If we consider that these structures, which most clearly reflect the unity of education, worship and housing in the tekkes in their design, emerged from the sheikh houses of the first tarikats in history, then they can be classified as living examples of the oldest tradition among the tekkes in Istanbul. These tekkes of group III demonstrate great affinity to the traditional civil architecture of Istanbul from the aspect of their design - except for that of worship-ritual areas – and the facades and details. Indeed, the most characteristic examples of this group are Yenikapı Mevlevîhane (renovated in 1838) (figure 23-24-25), Kâdirîhane Tekke in Tophane (renovated approximately 1825) (figure 26-27), Galata Mevlevîhane (renovated in 1860) (figure 28-29), Kasımpaşa Mevlevîhane (renovated in 1834) (figure 30-31) and Kaşgarî Tekke in Eyüp (renovated in the second half of the nineteenth century) (figure 32), large mansions with mass design and façades, the Helvaî tekkes between Vezneciler and Süleymaniye (renovated in the second half of the nineteenth century) (figure 33), Keşfî Osman Efendi (renovated in the second half of the nineteenth century) (figure 34) and Derunî Mehmed Efendi (renovated in the second half of the nineteenth century) (figure 35) are modest wooden houses. Oğlanlar Tekke in Aksaray (renovated in 1871) (figure 36), resembles the brick mansions which emerged in Istanbul after the Tanzimat era. Indeed, archival documents have established that the structures included in this group were designed and/or built by the masters who created the palaces, pavilions, mansions, yalı structures of the same period.

27- A general view of Kaşgari Sufi Lodge (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, The archive of the city Council, 1942)

28- The schema of Halwai Sufi Lodge (M. Baha Tanman)

29- The side of the prayer niche of Keşfi Osman Efendi Sufi Lodge - Vezneciler (M. Baha Tanman)

30- A general view of Oğlanlar (Boys) Sufi Lodge (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, The archive of the city Council, 1952)

As far as the status of the tekkes of Istanbul today is concerned, after the abolition of the tarikats in 1925, without exception, the tekkes lost all of their original functions. Among those that were still standing at this time, the majority of those which had architectural features that were in keeping with a mosque were allocated to this new function. In fact, the aforementioned examples are bi-functional organisations that were designed from the outset to be used as a mosque-tekke. However, units relating to tarikat activity, such as the harem, selamlık and kitchen of the tekkes gradually became a thing of the past, while the mosque-tevhidhane spaces are still standing today.

Some of the tekkes which are important by the fact that the majority reflect the characteristics of residential buildings and the actual tarikat architecture, but which were not appropriate to be used as mosques, were demolished and their land was sold by the waqfs, while others were rented out for use as residences, warehouses or schools. In time, an important section of these tekkes disappeared, due to being derelict or destroyed by fires; others were pulled down to make way for the expansion of roads in the 1950s. It can easily be said that the greatest loss of Ottoman architectural heritage in Istanbul was experienced by the tekkes.

Some of the limited examples that have survived continued to be used as residences by the families of the last postnişins. There is a limited number of tekkes that are used, to a certain degree, in keeping with their original function by some waqfs in order to examine and keep alive the Sufi culture: Aynî Ali Baba Tekke in Kasımpaşa, Nurettin Cerrahî Tekke in Karagümrük and Ümmü Kenan Tekke in Fatih can be mentioned as examples. Galata Mevlevîhane constitutes the only example which was protected by the state and is used as a museum.

In recent years, the revitalisation of this historical heritage, which has been lost to a large extent, has been attempted, in part, by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality and the Directorate General of Foundations, who have repaired the dilapidated state of some establishments, such as Yenikapı Mevlevîhane, Bahariye Mevlevîhane, Beşikçizade Tekke in Davutpaşa, Hatuniye in Eyüp, the tekkes of Mustafa Selami Efendi, Şeyh Murad Efendi, Vezir and Oluklubayır, Emir Buharî Tekke in Eğrikapı, Hasırîzade Tekke in Sütlüce, Turabî Baba Tekke in Kasımpaşa and Nalçacı Halil Efendi Degâhı in Üsküdar. Those that had completely disappeared were rebuilt according to the original design, and educational and cultural activities or humanitarian aid started to be offered by some waqfs.


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1 In some of the examples given, in the place of the dates of its first construction, the dates of the reconstruction of the main architectural features of the building have been given and the word “ihya” was given to the history’s left.

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