Caravansary at Kustchiuk Czemege

Küçükçekmece, Caravansary, Turkey, ottoman empire, Luigi Mayer,
Caravansary at Kustchiuk Czemege (Küçükçekmece) 1810.

Küçükçekmece is a fairly large, densely populated district in western Istanbul and was named after the adjacent lake of the same name. Küçükçekmece was a village in central Bucak (Merkezi Bucak) of Bakırköy County, Turkey, until it became an independent county in 1987.


Caravansaries (sometimes called hans or khans) are public edifices established in almost every town and village throughout the Turkish empire, for the accommodation of travellers of every nation, religion, and condition, as well as for the purposes of traffic. Those in the large towns are in general extensive buildings, mostly of stone, roofed with lead, of a quadrangular form, consisting of two, and sometimes of three stories.

To each belongs a garden, and frequently a fountain and mosque. The interior of the building contains a platform or bench, about three feet from the ground, and six in width, intersected with hearths and chimneys for dressing their food. Upon this bench the passengers, after eating their suppers cross-legged, take their repose upon mats and straw provided for the purpose. Some, however, for their better accommodation, carry mattresses or carpets with them.

The horses are ranged at the feet of their respective masters, where the mangers are placed; the rest of the space is occupied by the caravans and beasts of burden. In some of the larger khans private apartments may be had, but they contain no other furniture than mats and straw for bedding. Travellers lodge gratis in these houses of hospitality; and, in several, pillaw (a Turkish dish of rice boiled with bread and meat) is given to those who will accept it, as well as straw for the horses.

Wine is sometimes sold at the door for the accommodation of Christian passengers. Most of these caravansaries have been erected from devotion, at the expense of individuals; but their first institution, according to tradition, is derived from Ibrahim bashaw, who, being rewarded with great riches, in consequence of his services to Sultan Selim, and honoured with the title of khan*, founded several, whence they bear the name of khans.

The View is taken from the village of Kustchiuk Czemege, or Ponte Piccolo, in the neighbourhood of Constantinople. The figure on horseback represents one of the Bostangi (a sort of guards for the palace and gardens of the Grand Seignior). Those sitting on the steps are supposed to be passengers waiting for the departure of the caravan. The female figures are in the ordinary dress of Mohammedan women.

Source: Views in the Ottoman dominions: in Europe, in Asia, and some of the Mediterranean islands by Luigi Mayer; Sir Robert Ainslie; William Watts, engraver; Thomas Bensley, printer; Robert Bowyer, publisher. London: Printed by T. Bensley, Bolt Court, Fleet Street, for R. Bowyer, 80, Pall Mall, 1810.


Küçükçekmece is a district built around the lake of the same name in the west of Istanbul. There are Avcılar and Küçükçekmece Lake to the west, Başakşehir to the north, Bahçelievler and Bağcılar to the east, Bakırköy and Marmara Sea to the south. It is located in the 1st degree risky earthquake zone.

There are different opinions among historians about the origin of the name Küçükçekmece. Hakkı Raif Ayyıldız, in one of his writings, describes the naming of the region as follows: “Very thick stakes were driven into the swamp and ropes were stretched between them. The travellers were loaded onto a large raft, and the raftmen used to float the raft to the other side of the canal; hence, the names “Küçükçekmece” and “Büyükçekmece” were given to the passages of the two lakes.

Although the name “Çekme” is attributed to the depressions in this region, it can be said that the closest assumption to the truth is that it was given because of the caged sets that were placed in the canal and pulled up to hold the fish entering the lake. Moreover, the region is referred to as “Çekmek-i Küçük” in the old Ottoman foundation books.

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