Yahya Kemal (1884-1958) commonly uses Istanbul and its districts in his poems. He almost writes a poem on all counties of Istanbul. His heart is filled with the most concise sound of Istanbul. His mind is too far away from the city and his time. He sees the whole empire from the view of Istanbul, he sees the time and space of behind Istanbul. Istanbul is a dream city for him, he feels himself in a dream while looking at the view. He travels to the oldest period of history. He sees Istanbul through a contemplation. Istanbul is a whole civilization, a boundless kingdom. He does not just watch Istanbul from a hill but also mentions every detail of districts of Istanbul.

I am not a poetry lover but I am a fan of Yahya Kemal’s poetries. I translated two Istanbul poetries of him. These are a glance to Istanbul from a hill and on another hill. Yahya Kemal doesn’t say names of these hills on his poetries.

They say that Istanbul is on Seven Hills. Ancient Istanbul (Constantinople) was founded on Seven Hills within the city walls. Six of them lie along the Golden Horn (Haliç).

What Are the Seven Hills Of Istanbul?

  • 1st hill is within Topkapi Palace-Blue Mosque area in Sultanahmet neighborhood.
  • 2nd hill is within Cemberlitas and Nuruosmaniye Mosque area.
  • 3rd hill is within Beyazit Mosque and Tower – Istanbul University – Mosque of Suleymaniya area.
  • 4th hill is within today’s Fatih (Conqueror) Mosque area in Fatih district.
  • 5th hill is within Fethiye Mosque-Sultan Selim Mosque-Greek High school area.
  • 6th hill is within Tekfur Palace-Mihrimah Mosque area in Edirnekapi neighborhood. This was the highest of all seven of them.
  • 7th hill is within Samatya-Capa- Cerrahpasa areas in Kocamustafapasa neighborhood.
green hills of istanbul

Besides these, some other hills outside of the city walls are: Taksim hill, Yusa hill Sehitlik (martyrdom) hill, Maden hill in Sariyer, Karlitepe hill, Tepebasi hill, Fetihtepe hill, Hurriyet hill, Nurtepe hill in Sirintepe hill, Fikirtepe hill, Icadiye hill, Nakkastepe hill and Buyuk Camlica and Kucuk Camlica hills (262 and 229 meters respectively), Aydos hill (537 meters).

Hope to see you soon in Istanbul.

Yahya Kemal Beyatlı–Bir Tepeden

Rüya gibi bir akşamı seyretmeğe geldin,
Çok benzediğin memleketin her tepesinde.
Baktım:Konuşurken daha bir kere güzeldin.
İstanbul’u duydum daha bir kere sesinde.

Irkın seni iklimine benzer yaratırken,
Kaç fethe koşan tuğlar ufuklarla yarışmış
Tarihini aksettirebilsin diye çehren
Kaç fatihin altın kanı mermerle karışmış.

Yahya Kemal Beyatlı – From A Hill

You came to watch an evening like a dream
On every hills of the kingdom that you look like a lot
I looked at: You’re the most beautiful while speaking
I heard Istanbul one more time in your voice

While your nation created you alike your disposition,
Tugs that run for conquests raced with horizons.
To reflect the history of you, your appearance,
How many conquerors’ golden blood mixed with marble.
Tugh (tuğ): (in history) is a pole with circularly arranged horse or yak tail hairs of varying colors arranged at the top.

Yahya Kemal Beyatlı – Bir Başka Tepeden

Sana dün bir tepeden baktım, aziz İstanbul!
Görmedim gezmediğim, sevmediğim hiçbir yer.
Ömrüm oldukça, gönül tahtıma keyfince kurul!
Sade bir semtini sevmek bile bir ömre değer.

Nice revnaklı şehirler görülür dünyada,
Lakin efsunlu güzellikleri sensin yaratan.
Yaşamıştır derim, en hoş ve uzun rü’yada
Sende çok yıl yaşayan, sende ölen, sende yatan.

Yahya Kemal Beyatlı- From Another Hill

Yesterday I looked at you from a hill, beloved İstanbul!
I did not see any place that I visit, not like
As long as I live, sit on my heart’s throne as your wish!
Just to love a neighbourhood of yours is worth of a whole life.

There are lots of flourishing cities in the world,
But, you’re the only one who creates the most enchanted beauties.
I’d say that one has lived in the most of a nice long dream,
For one who spent many years in you, who died in you, who was buried in you.

See Also Two Sides of Istanbul

By Zübeyde Bildirici Belkacemi

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