The Bosphorus of Istanbul is full of old seaside residences. Some of them lost their speciality as being a seaside residence after roads have been built in front of them and they became mansions only. The mansion of Dikranyan Efendi was one of those seaside residences in Kefeliköy, and Vafiadis Family lived there for over 25 years. Here in this article we would like to share with you the days of Vafiadis Family in this mansion and and a brief history of Kefeliköy.

    Kefeliköy is an old small district on the seaside of Sarıyer between the districts, Kireçburnu and Buyukdere, in Istanbul. There are two famous old seaside residences as ‘Mansion of Alp’ and ‘Mansion of Dikranyan Efendi’ which stands still today with an amazing view of Bosphorus.

The history of Kefeliköy is really old. The Greek geographer Dionysios Byzantios who lived in 2nd century, described Kefelikoy in his book ‘Voyage through the Bosporus ( Anaplous Bosporou - Ανάπλους Βοσπόρου )’ under the name ‘Dikaia Petra’ which means ‘The Fair Rock’. Let’s read the part in the book of Dionysios, and learn why it has been named as fair.

 

'Now, once the Kleides are past, the view of Pontos approaches. A rock is sculpted to a sharp point,resembling a pine cone, which is called Dikaia (just), from when two merchants were sailing in Pontos in triremes and deposited some gold at this rock, making a compact that neither would remove the gold until both met together at the rock. When one of them violated the pact, the story goes that the gold hid itself, with the rock recoiling from the bad faith of the treacherous partner.'

    Maybe because of the beauty of this district, or maybe because of it’s history, our grandfather Hurmuzios Vafiadis always dreamed of living in Kefeliköy, especially in the ‘Mansion of Dikranyan Efendi’. This mansion is famous in Bosphorus with its special domed structure. The Mansion of Dikranyan Efendi has been built in 1895 by architect Raimondo D’Aranco, and its first residents were Dikranyan Family who lived during the reign of 'Abdulhamid II.'. In 1920, the mansion was restored due to fire.  And the special dome was added on mansion in 1969. The residents of this mansion had changed many times. In 1954 it has been bought by Hamparsun Çolakal and in 1969 by Mehmet Yörük. But before 1954, the residents of this mansion are unknown, and we are happy to inform you with two different families who lived here, with the help of told history in our family.

Mansion of Dikranyan Efendi & Vafiadis Family

    In 1930s, this mansion belonged to two brothers from Kürkcüyan Family from Kayseri Armenians, and this family was engaged in fur business. The Kürçüyan brothers were living here together with their families. One of them was married with an Armenian lady whose name is Arpine, and they had one daughter named as Seta. As Hurmuzios Vafiadis dreamed of living here, he asked many times Kürkcüyan Family to sell this mansion. They always refused but one day asked if Hurmuzios wanted to rent. It was a good offer for Hurmuzios, he accepted and Vafiadis Family lived in ‘The Mansion of Dikranyan Efendi’ for 25 years. Kürkçüyan Family were also living in Kefeliköy on those days. Their daughter Seta and Aleko Vafiadis became very close friends by time. 

    Here on this photograph you see Aleko together with Seta and her mother Arpine, which has been taken in 30 August 1947, in the memory of Aleko’s name day.

     Living in a mansion for 25 years together with a big family and friends is of course full of memories. Not only people, there were also animals in this mansion as told before in ‘The Vafiadis: Gorillas & Ortaköy’.  The family had one Jako parrot named Mimi and also a monkey named Chita. Mimi was a special parrot that could speak a few words and Chita was too small as can sat on palm with a long tail.

     There is a funny memory about Mimi the parrot during the days in Kefeliköy. Mimi has the ability to learn the words and repeat as a parrot. Somedays in Kefeliköy, the fishermen were resting by sitting on the stairs of the mansion and they were talking each other. But they mostly swore during their discussions. Day by day, Mimi learnt some of those swearings and started to tell. One day the fishermen knocked the door and told Ashen that someone in the house swear a lot. She said that it’s the parrot and it learned all those swearings from the fishermen.   

 

     In 1940s, a new member has been joined Vafiadis Family: Eleni. As Ashen always wanted to have a daughter, they asked to their friends if they know someone to take care of as a daughter. The news went to island Imbros and a poor family decided to send their daughter to Vafiadis family. When Eleni came to Istanbul she was just a child and raised by Ashen and Hurmuzios. The Vafiadis Family never behaved her as an adoptive and she became one of the members of our family. Eleni also has been grown up together with his brother Aleko, in Kefeliköy.

 

     In 1940s Kefeliköy was also a nice place to swim in the clean waters of Bosphorus, which is not recommended nowadays. The photo of Aleko below is a good example for that. 

    While living in Kefeliköy, the Vafiadis Family also held the house and garden in Ortaköy and visited there regularly. Of course there were a lot of good memories in Ortaköy and Kefeliköy but Vafiadis Family survived many difficulties in the ‘Mansion of Dikranyan Efendi’ , such as Twenty Conscription Classes, Wealth Tax and 6-7 September 1955.

    During 6-7 September 1955, Vafiadis Family were in Kefeliköy. The assailants have been attacked to the house in Ortaköy, they entered the house and broke, stole many things. In Kefeliköy, a man ( whose name is known in family but we don’t want to share ) snitched the family, and showed their house to assailants. When family heard the sounds of assailants and the news, they’ve locked the door and put the icon of Jesus Christ beside the door. The assailants couldn’t enter the house of Vafiadis. Some of our  family members still think that it was a miracle of the icon.

Ashen & Aleko in front of the mansion

    After the days in Kefeliköy, Vafiadis Family moved to Arnavutköy, then Sarıyer and to Kurtuluş which is also known as Tatavla. After that the new generation of the family moved to different districts in Istanbul and Athens. The memories and friendships in Kefeliköy are still remembered in family especially by elders. 'The Mansion of Dikranyan Efendi' attracts the attention of those who visit the coastline today and is the subject of their photographs. For us - the grandchildren of the Vafiadis Family - this mansion is a unique structure that we dream if it could only speak the 25 years of our family...

Written by: 2mi3, February 2020

Sources: 

1-  Boğaziçi'nde Bir Gezinti, Dionysios Byzantios, 2013, YKY

2-  Akan Mimarlık, http://www.akanmimarlik.com/

3-  http://yenibirgazete.com/yazarlar/sema-akkoyun-ozbay/con-pasa-kosku/247/

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