Yeldeğirmeni is a truly authentic neighborhood of İstanbul, which has been settled for hundreds of years, over which there has, of course, been a lot of evolution. Today it is still possible to see the traces of different periods, yet with the great aggregation of cultures and its recent popularity, the neighborhood is developing a more composite identity.
Yeldeğirmeni is located in the Kadıköy district, between Haydarpaşa and Halitağa Street. It is a maximum of ten minutes walk from Kadıköy dock and five minutes from Altıyol Square (Boğa). The area is specified as a cultural heritage and urban site.
This traditional neighborhood has hosted different ethnicities such as Armenians, Jews and Greeks since the 15th century, a few of whom still reside there. Today, it is possible to see the traces of these different cultures on the buildings. There is a synagogue, a church and a mosque alongside one another. Small details on these buildings and streets tell the many stories of its past. Yeldeğirmeni is also known as the first neighborhood in Kadıköy to have apartment blocks. Kehribardjı, Menase, Celal Muhtar, Demirciyan, Sünget and Valpreda were among the first apartment buildings built in Kadıköy (some of the names could have been changed). Today, it’s still easy to see the integration of different ethnicities and customs existing side by side.
The renewal project by the Kadıköy municipality and ÇEKÜL (the Foundation for the Protection and Promotion of the Environment and Cultural Heritage) started in August 2010, has had a huge effect on today’s Yeldeğirmeni. Main target of this project is to refine the neighborhood by protecting its own physical and social values. Today, there are many so called “renewal” projects run by private sector, which can price local people out of their own homes. Compared with other such urban projects in the city, this one in is better positioned to create a steady change. Local people are working together in this transition, meaning the neighborhood is improving day by day. By implementing new projects, today’s Yeldeğirmeni is distinctly changing from a residential into a cultural zone.
Perhaps the best way to define the neighborhood is to call it as an open-air art center. With its old small retailers, and handicraftsmen there are lots of new service areas popping up. It is possible to see a different so-called ‘hipster’ cafes or a small art studios full of young people.
The Writings on the Wall
Another important art formation here is it’s building tall murals. They are quite new kind of public art in this area. The first street art festival, named as MURAL-IST, was organised by Kadıköy Municipality and Çekül foundation in 2012. 16 walls have been painted by 7 local and 9 foreign artists since then. 4 artists, Pixel Pancho (Italy), Amose (France), Dome (Germany) and Cladio Ethos (Brasil) took part in this festival this year in September between the 24th-30th. New ones by the local artists are coming out lately. Murals have a different kind of impact on people who sees them, that separates them from the other paintings on the walls. Murals mostly contain a message to the public.
Where to Eat and Drink
If you are planning to go to this lovely neighborhood at lunch time, try GARDA for a delicious lunch. For good coffee, try MU or Benazio. There are plenty of cool cafes and small restaurants which also definitely worth trying. There is a new cafe genre called Anti Cafe where everything is free apart from time. You only need to pay for the time you spend there, and all the food and drinks are free of charge. They only expect you to leave the place as clean as you find it. It is a perfect place to take your laptop or book to study when home seems suffocating. Between these new cafes, you can see the historical Yeldeğirmeni bakeries which are still very popular, and a definite must try.
Garda Rasimpaşa Mahallesi Karakolhane Caddesi No: 51 (Ayios Yeorgios Rum Ortodoks Kilisesi Karşısı), 34716 İstanbul
Cafe Mu Rasimpaşa Mah. Karakolhane Cad. No:46/A, Kadıköy, Türkiye
Benazio Rasimpasa Mah.No:48 (Karakolhane), İstanbul
Anti Cafe Yeldeğirmeni Yurttaş Sok. 4/A (Karakolhane Cad.), 34716 İstanbul
The Future of Yeldeğirmeni
Yeldeğirmeni has been going through a serious identity alteration as the new project progresses. In my opinion, with all these popular spots and lively new ambiance, there is a very important boundary between renewal and gentrification, which should not be crossed, as it has been over the water in Karaköy. Hopefully the projects in Yeldeğirmeni will continue to protect the settled public and local values while developing the area.
If you have any questions or comments about Yeldeğirmeni, feel free to drop a comment below. I would be happy to help!