Jo’s Monday Walk: The Cemetery

If you follow my blog, you will know that last Friday I wrote about food in Turkey and one of the tourist excursions that turned to be one of the most interesting I have ever been on…..Today for Jo’s Monday Walk I am revealing what else I saw on the walk….. We started from high on the hill and walked down the cobbled pathway that ran alongside and through the Eyüp Cemetery, the most sacred cemetery in Istanbul! Towards the bottom …….was the newer section……..

Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey
Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul Cemetery

The mosque was erected by Mehmut the Conqueror, over the tomb of Halid bin Zeyd Ebu Eyyüp, known as Sultan Eyüp. He was the standard bearer for the Prophet Mohammed, and also the last survivor of his inner circle of trusted friends.  While Sultan Eyüp was serving as commander of the Arab forces during the siege of 659 to 688 AD, he was killed and buried on the outskirts of Istanbul.  One, of the conditions of peace, after the Arab siege, was that the tomb of Eyüp be preserved. A little village of tombs blossomed on the site by those seeking Sultan Eyüp’s intervention in life after death, and it is still considered a privilege to be buried in the nearby cemeteries….. Today, it costs more than $50,000 to be buried here. To most people in Turkey that is equivalent to buying a home………

The Mosque at Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey
The Mosque at Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

Here are some of the older grave markings…..which I thought were very interesting!

The tombstones reveal a lot about the people buried beneath them…..The older grave markers, those before 1829, are long narrow markers with tops shaped like a turban for the men. The turban represents a pasha; a high ranking person of the Ottoman Empire or a prominent military man, or the turban of a Dervish order. The green painted turbans represent the burial of an Imam. After 1929, the fez shaped hat replaced the pasha turban on the grave markers. The tombstones shaped like a sword, represents a soldier.

Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey
Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The older tombstone markings were written in Arabic.  Following the Turkish War of Independence (1919-1922) Mustafa Kemel Atatürk, established the Republic of Turkey, with himself as its first president. The Arabic language was out and the Turkish language was designated the official language. This caused a great deal of confusion in Turkey, because for several generations the older people spoke Arabic, while the children learned the Turkish language in the schools.

Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey
Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey
Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

For women, the top of the grave marker can be a tiara, noting a princess or a head-dress represented by flowers, most often the rose. The number of roses depicts how many children the woman had and the opened rose means the child was still living at the time of the mother’s death. If the rose was closed, a child proceeded her in death…..

Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey
Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

At one spot in the cemetery are two markers for two women separated by an empty hole between them…. The guide tells us the story of two wives of one man. Muslims are allowed four wives. In this situation, there was the older wife and the much younger wife and all the headaches that could possibly be created between the two women.  One day, the women decided to end their bickering and their unhappiness by killing the husband. The two women were hung for their crime and buried in the cemetery plots that their husband had provided for them. However, since it is sinful in Muslim culture to be killed by a woman, the husband was not allowed to be buried there when he died. Hence, the hole!

Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey
Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

Also, it is popular to have written messages for the deceased placed on the tombstone. Here  are some that have been translated…….

Stopping his ears with his fingers, Judge Mehmut died off from a beautiful world, leaving his wife’s cackling and his mother-in-law’s gabbing.

On another….Oh passers by, spare me your prayers, but please don’t steal my tombstone!

And another……..I could have died as well without a doctor than with that quack that my friends set upon me……..

I hope you have enjoyed the Cemetery Walk down this steep hill….. This was part of a six hour excursion, that included a boat touring the Bosphorus, to see the palaces along the shore and the two hour, “Golden Horn Tour,” which included the historical heart of the city and the Byzantium, Constantinople and Istanbul harbors…..In addition was the funicular ride up to the top of Loti Hill, which I described HERE! The tour also included picking you up and dropping you off at your hotel at the end of the tour. This is really good, because I have been on tours where the tour ended and you had no idea where you were and had to take a taxi back to the hotel. A real bummer! This tour and walk was excellent and was booked through the Blue Brothers Tours and the fee was 20 euros each in 2014. If you plan on going to Istanbul in the future, you might look them up…….we booked the tour through the recommendation of our hotel, The Hotel Sultania, which was first class in every way!

Jo’s Monday Walk

If you would like to see where other folks are walking this week look for Jo’s Monday Walk!

11 Comments Add yours

  1. Fascinating! Istanbul has been on my bucket list for a long time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sue says:

    Most interesting….I do find cemeteries fascinating, particularly the older parts

    Like

  3. restlessjo says:

    You delivered big time, Cady! So many stories in one walk. I love the turbans on the headstones. Thanks so much for sharing. I shall enjoy repeating this walk at my leisure 🤗💕

    Like

  4. margaret21 says:

    Fascinating. I wonder, have you read ’10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World’ by Elif Shafak? After the death of the main protagonist as soon as the novel opens, the whole of the second half is set in a cemetery in Istanbul. It’s well worth reading if you don’t know it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, I have not read that, but I will look into it! Thank you!

      Like

    2. Margaret thanks for the heads up on that book! I ordered it from the library today……he has several books doesn’t he? They all sound interesting! Will start out with this one!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I find cemeteries fascinating, I loved the story of the two wives (though not condoning it of course)!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. How interesting. Interesting about the turbans on the tombstones as a way of depicting the person’s vocation. Last summer I visited an old cemetery not far from Niagara. It was interesting to read some of the tombstones and note the family connections. You’ve reminded me to write a post about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. GIN, We have three cemeteries in my part of the world (population of town, 11,000) The oldest one has the Presbyterian folks, who first settled here (started a college for men to become ministers) and that cemetery also includes the “notable” people. We have one Confederate General buried there as he was from here. Then one day, I was going down the road and noticed an old, old, old sign saying turn here for the Christian Aid Society Cemetery. Doing my homework, I found that this cemetery, (way out of town even now and unused) was a big open field where poor people and blacks were buried. There was a society to pay for their burials…..That cemetery is just mowed now from the looks of it and in the oldest parts of it are just low places in the earth with no markers or anything….there are a few newer graves, but they are marked from the early 1900’s. The third cemetery is the newest and the largest, since the other two are no longer used for burials. It is right next to the largest ballpark and play grounds for the kids!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. What great history. Hopefully there will be permanent caretakers to preserve the history.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.