Public gardens are being opened all over Turkey. The first public garden was opened in Istanbul’s Taksim neighborhood during the reign of Sultan Abdul-Aziz, and then every neighborhood in Istanbul and every corner of the empire was ornamented with these gardens. In Istanbul, five public gardens were opened.

Public gardens are being created in Istanbul and all over Turkey. These spaces, which bring a breath of fresh air to cities and provide recreation space for people, are of great importance. In fact, this is an old tradition. The Ottomans had a great gardening tradition. While Europe did not know of such gardens, Ottoman sultans used to relieve fatigue due to state affairs in spectacular imperial privy gardens.

Swedish King Charles XII, who took refuge in Turkey in 1710, was impressed by Ottoman city planning and tried to emulate it after he returned to his country and had numerous parks built in Stockholm.

The first public gardens

Public green spaces isolated from the hullabaloo of everyday life began to be created in the second part of the 19th century in many parts of the world. In 1857, Central Park was built. Such places were given names like “public park,” “municipal park,” “city park” and “public garden.” Spaces known as parks in the West emerged here as public gardens. These public spaces were alternately called “general garden,” “people’s garden,” “municipal garden,” “municipal park” and “promenade.” Ahmet Koksal and Tayfun Gurkas published articles on public gardens.

Beginning with the Tanzimat era, “public gardens” that were accessible by the populace emerged in the Ottoman Empire. These were places for both recreation and public ceremonies. In 1869, a public garden opened in Taksim.

That garden was built by German and French engineers and architects in the British style. Then another public garden came into service in 1870 in the Kisikli neighborhood. Public gardens in Kucuk Camlica and Sultanahmet followed.

Istanbul in the beginning of the 20th century

On the Bosporus coast, a public garden, Mirgun Public Garden, at the time was opened in Emirgan; in Fener Port on the coast of Halic (Golden Horn) another garden was opened, along with others in the Tepebasi, Bakirkoy and Besiktas neighborhoods. For these public gardens, land belonging to foundations was used as well as state lands and formerly private lands that had been expropriated.

Public gardens served many other functions along with refreshment and strolling. They were used as gathering places for clubs, as music halls, libraries and venues for events like theater performances. Circuses used them for shows. Bands and singers gave concerts in these gardens. Rallies and protests were also held in these places.

All around the empire

Following Istanbul, public gardens proliferated everywhere in the empire. During the reign of Abdülhamid II, a public garden was built in Konya where Konya High School stands today. When a teachers’ training school (today’s Konya High School) was built later in 1912 at the same place, that public garden was moved across the street. In Kayseri, during the mayoralty of Mehmet Ali Efendi of Tavlusun (1881-1901), a part of today’s Republic Square was expropriated and converted into a public garden. In 1892, a public garden was opened in Palestine on the Jaffa road.

Konya Public Garden

In early 1908, construction of a public garden, theater and a library in İzmir was proposed. Since the existing military barracks in the city was small and at an inconvenient site, its demolition and the creation of a public garden in its place was decided on.

To raise money for its construction, the municipality held a lottery.

During the Ottoman period, public gardens were built in every corner of the empire, including all of Anatolia, such as Izmit, Sivas, Antakya, Cyprus, Diyarbakir, Erzurum, Adana, Trabzon, Salonica and Girit (Crete).

Source:  Daily Sabah

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