Our family always love animals and they have been accompanied by many different species in every period of their lives. They had dogs, horses, birds, chickens, bears, monkeys and gorillas...Yes, it heards strange but gorillas. Let us tell you in this article about the passion of our family for the animals and the garden in Ortakoy.
As mentioned on Family History, Vafiadis family was really rich and Hurmuzios Vafiadis was a notable man in community. He started to work in a small atelier but by time he became richer and richer and he owned the Inn in Mahmutpasa then he owned a big house with a huge garden ( known as ' The Garden of German Koch ' ) in Ortaköy. His son Aleko was born in this house and he always told many stories about the animals they had. As we know they had one bear, two gorillas, two horses, dogs, a coop full of chickens ( est. 3000 ), several birds and five peacocks. On the right you see Aleko in the coop with a white dove in his hands.
It's easy to understand the coop, the dog and the horses but the gorillas and bear must be really fantastic to have in a garden. It's really impossible to have such a garden and keep those animals nowadays.
On right, you can see the map of old Ortaköy from 1927. The area in black circle is the garden of German Koch, which was owned by Hurmuzios and very close to mansion of the family. Below in red circle you can see the famous Ortaköy Mosque, for reference.
Unfortunately there is not any information about the Garden of German Koch even it was a big area in Ortaköy. We heard this name from our ancestors, and luckily we found this place in old maps of Ortaköy as 'Jardins de l'Horticulteur M.Koch' . It's a perfect feeling when the legends become real.
Anyway, when we say gorillas, don't think that they were like King Kong. But you know they are at least 1.60m and nearly 150 kg. The funny thing about the gorillas were their names : Hitler & Mussolini. It must be a kind of humour as those two names were too important on those days.
Those gorillas were kept in two different big cages in the garden, at the entrance of the house, and positioned on right and left. One of those gorillas was very jealous and it was envying Ashen the wife of Hurmuzios. The rest of the story is sad at this point. One day while the gardener Seyfettin was cleaning the cages, one of the gorillas have been escaped and attacked Ashen. It was so jealous that it mauled Ashen, and it was too hard to save her. So the gardener had to shoot the gorilla. The family was too upset but there was nothing to do. Old times... now it's impossible to keep gorillas as pets in a garden and of course it mustn't, but those days it was a passion and kind of luxury to have such animals. We don't know what happened to the other gorilla but maybe they've sent to zoo or it lived until its death.
On left historic photo, you see Aleko Vafiadis, together with gardener Seyfettin Efendi in the garden ( The Garden of German Koch ) of their mansion.
It would be perfect, if we had a photograph of those gorillas and we feel like somewhere we have, as Vafiadis family had too many photographs. We are still searching.
Another animal in the garden is the bear. Unfortunately we don't have the name of it as it's one of the oldest stories that we know.
The bear came after the gorillas. At the beginning everything was perfect, but one day one of the neighbours was angry with Vafiadis family and he entered the garden at night and hit the bear on his head with a shovel. Poor bear became blind after this sad incident. Vafiadis family tried to take care of it but it was too hard and they sent it to the zoo.
Vafiadis Family also had two horses in their garden, which named as Melek ( Angel ) and Yıldız ( Star ). Their story has been told in ' The Vafiadis : Legends & Strange Stories ' . But just to remind shortly, Melek was the horse of Hurmuzios and Yıldız was Alekos, which called to military and years after found in Buyukada.
Until now, we informed you with the animals that they had in the garden of mansion in Ortaköy. But Vafiadis family had more exotic animals in the house in Kefeliköy. As our family members informed us, they had one monkey and a Jako parrot in their house. The monkey named as Chita and it was too small as can sat on palm. It had a long tail. The funny thing with Chita, it never liked Eleni, the step-sister of Aleko. The Jako parrot named as Mimi and it could speak.
We had the collar of Chita in our family relics archieve but unfortunately it's lost a few years before , and unfortunately we couldn't find it. It would be perfect if we could share it in our family relics.
After Vafiadis family had to leave the house in Ortaköy and Kefeliköy, they didn't take care of any exotic animals. Because of the limitations they only had aquariums, birds...etc. The new generation of the family still loves animals and most of the family members have pets like dogs, cats, birds...
Written by : 2mi3, December 2018