Pasajı are found
Around and down Istiklal
Enter I must go
After walking Istiklal Caddesi everyday on my way to class, the variety of architectural styles and forms along the avenue became increasingly apparent.
The urban typology of the passage or pasajı was introduced to Istanbul during the 19th century when the city was experiencing rapid industrialization. The presence of this western form indicates the “westernization” process that began in 1838 as a result of trade agreements between the Ottoman Empire and England. This led to a more consumer-based society. Pasajı create a new way to organize shops and create public spaces as an extension of the main street. These covered spaces provided a more controlled environment, protected from traffic and weather, to facilitate social and commercial activities. Each pasajı has its own character, influenced by its location and the goods and services they offer. Through the analysis of this urban typology and their specific personalities, it is possible to gain insight to the social and economic life of the city.
Haccopulo Pasajı is a particularly quirky pasajı that was built between 1850 and 1871. The original structure had shops on the ground floor and apartments in the upper 2 stories. It still maintains its original shape- a straight corridor that opens up into a courtyard. This is formally a very unique pasajı because of the shape, which is similar to a passage and a khan, another typology originally used to develop the trade routes in Anatolia. While the surrounding structure was not very well maintained, there are still a variety of trinket shops that led to the courtyard, which offers a great public space that is popular with young Turks.
My other favorite example is the Rumeli Pasajı, built in 1894. It is housed inside a 7-story structure designed by the Italian architect. This neo-classic pasajı originally had shops on the ground floor and expensive apartments above. Apparently locals knew it as the Communist Party building, although I have not been able to find out exactly why. In the 1990, many of the spaces were emptied for restoration, which remains unfinished today. As part of my exploration of this restoration process, a few of the girls and I climbed up several flights of stairs before making our way onto the roof of Rumeli, to take in view of Istiklal. Afterwards, we became friends with one of the craftsmen who has a jewelry shop in the pasajı for a few months. Although he said he doesn’t get very good business at this location he was more than happy to let us make a few bracelets and keep them.