Therapeia (Tarabya in Turkish) lies on the European shore of the Upper Bosporus. In ancient times the place was called Pharmakea, a name pointing to the poison (pharmakon in Ancient Greek means poison) allegedly dropped by Medea onto the Thracian coast. According to tradition, the area was later named Therapeia by Patriarch Attikos as a euphemism or thanks to its climate.1 The Dictionary of History and Geography (Lexikon Istorias kai Geografias) by Voutyras and Karidis includes the following comments about the name of Therapeia: “the gulf of Therapeia, formed after Kalender and previously called Pharmakeus, was named so by patriarch of Constantinople Attikos, who did not want to defame the place where he held his meetings and, according to Socrates Scholastikos, gave it its current name Therapeia”.2
Eremya Çelebi Kömürciyan reports that Therapeia was a Greek-Orthodox village in the 17th century.3 Approximately one century later, Saraf Hovanesian wrote that it was an almost exclusively Greek-Orthodox settlement with a few Armenians and even fewer Muslims.4 Evliya Çelebi says that the area was formerly uninhabited. It is reported that Sultan Selim II was charmed by the place and brought settlers. The area was later plundered by Cossacks. Evliya Çelebi reports that the village included about 800 houses in his days. The Christians were scattered in seven quarters and the Muslims in one.5
Therapeia was a small fishing village with almost exclusively Greek-Orthodox inhabitants. But the fate of the area changed dramatically in 1655, when the village became the seat of the diocese of Derkoi. The diocese gradually ascended the hierarchy of the Orthodox Church thanks to its proximity to Constantinople. As a result, Therapeia slowly developed and turned into one of the most important settlements on the European shore of the Bosporus. A good reason why the Phanariots as well as other figures of the Greek community chose Therapeia as their residence was the good climate of the area and the fact that the place was protected against epidemics like cholera and plague. Overpopulation, the lack of hygienic conditions and plague epidemics created a stuffy atmosphere within the city, particularly in the summer. That is why foreign ambassadors and Phanariots (the Ypsilantis, Mavrokordatos, Karatheodoris, Soutsos, Mavrogenis families) as well as Armenian and Jewish merchant princes built vacation houses at Therapeia and other parts of the Bosporus shore, where they transferred their extravagant life and fine taste.6
Therefore, Therapeia became the resort of the Greek-Orthodox ruling class of Constantinople and remained known as the “summer Fanari”. Certain Phanariotes like the Mourouzis and Ypsilantis families maintained their vacation houses at Therapeia until 1821. Skarlatos Byzantios reports that Therapeia “was until 1821 the summer dwelling of our aristocratic Greek families, while those who at times ruled Dacia would spend their days here in idleness, wasting their time on building and tree planting, far from the Ottomans, who, before steamships became widespread, did not live along the European coasts of the Bosporus beyond Sosthenion because it was a long way from the centre of political activities”.7 A number of Phanariot vacation houses were confiscated and devolved to new proprietors after 1821. The building that accommodated the German embassy, for example, belonged to the Soutsos family, while that of the French embassy was owned by the Ypsilantis family.8
As mentioned above, Therapeia was the seat of the diocese of Derkoi from the mid-17th century onwards. The metropolitan mansion, built in the years of metropolitan Athanasios, was inside the yard of the church of St. George, which had been reconstructed in 1796.9
The church of St. Paraskevi was built in 1860 by the Mavrogenis family near the agiasma of St. Paraskevi. The church is a domedbasilica in the style of Mt. Athos.10 Information about the construction of the church is included in the memoirs of Georgios Zarifis. According to him, the last descendant of the Mavrogenis family had accused a very wealthy Armenian to the Sultan. The latter lent a favourable ear and, as a result, the Armenian was arrested, beheaded and his property was confiscated, while a large part of his assets came to Mavrogenis’ possession. But Mavrogenis also faced a bad end. He was also accused to the Sultan by one of his enemies. The Sultan did away with Mavrogenis, whose widow continued living at the mansion of Therapeia. Her nights were restless and full of nightmares. Every night she would see her husband’s bleeding decapitated head in her dreams asking for mercy for his injustice to the Armenian. Seeking for relief, she fled to the agiasma of St. Paraskevi, beside her house, and asked for the intervention. She also built a magnificent church in order to redeem Mavrogenis’ sins. When she died, the maintenance of the church was taken over by the Zarifis family.11
The cemetery church of St. Constantine and Helen in the community cemetery of Therapeia was also built by the Zarifis family.12 Therapeia had lots of sacred springs (agiasmata). The most important of them were those of St. John the Baptist, St. Fotini, St. Paraskevi, St. Marina, St. Kyriaki and St. Constantine and Helen.13
Until the mid-19th century Constantinople and Therapeia were connected by boat and carriage. But when the ships started to sail regularly, the area was linked with Constantinople. Thus, on the arrival of the steamships the area was incorporated into the city and became, together with neighbouring Büyükdere, a summer refuge for diplomats and the Greek-Orthodox, Armenian and Levantine big bourgeoisie of Pera, while new expensive hotels and restaurants were built to cover their needs.
5. The population in the 19th and 20th c.
In the early 20th century, Therapeia was still one of the most aristocratic settlements of Constantinople. It included the summer houses of the economic and social Greek-Orthodox elite. In 1906 it was repotred that the area of Therapeia “occupies today a wonderful site among the other villages of the Bosporus and includes the ambassadorial resorts of almost all the Great Powers. The elegant mansions of the English, German, French and Italian embassies stand there, where the ambassadors of America, Belgium, Holland, Romania and Serbia have been summering regularly for some years now”.14
The Orthodox community included approximately 500 families.15 “The villagers are mainly Greeks, a few Armenian Catholics, with their church of St. Antonios, and some Europeans”.16
Until the mid-20th century, the population of Therapeia was largely Greek-Orthodox. According to the newspaper Makedonia, Therapeia was inhabited by 120 families in 1951.17 A few years later, in 1955, according to the personal archive of Christoforos Christidis, the community of Therapeia included 144 families and a six-grade primary school, a charitable society and an active sports club.18 In the events of September 6-7, 1955, the metropolitan mansion was set to fire and the metropolitan church of St. George was sacked. The church was demolished in 1958 and the new Tarabya Hotel (Büyük Tarabya Oteli) was built in its place. A part of the iconostasis and the heirlooms of the church were taken to the church of St. Paraskevi.19
The population of this community also started to decline due to the movement to more central parts of the city and the anti-minority measures adopted when the relations between Greece and Turkey deteriorated dramatically in the following decades mainly because of the Cypriot issue. The community school closed down in the school year 1985-1986 due to the lack of pupils.20 The Greek community today includes about 50, mainly old, inhabitants.21
The Greek community had a school already from the early 18th century. A house was bought in 1775 to accommodate the community school, which seven years later was endowed with an annual amount by the prince Alexandros Mourouzis. The school building was set to fire, as it happened with a part of the village, during the events that took place in Constantinople after the outbreak of the Greek war of Independence. However, in 1828, a new building was built and the school operated again. In 1875 the community of Therapeia decided to promote educational matters and invited Christoforos Samartsidis in order to direct the school.22
In the early 20th century Therapeia had three Greek-Orthodox schools. The five-grade civil boys’ school was attended by 85 pupils. The four-grade “Elisaveteio”Maidens’ School had been established by Elisabeth Baltatzi. Τhe last of the three schools of the community was the Zarifeion Nursery School, built in 1879 by Georgios Zarifis; it was attended by approximately 150 infants.23
An important women’s club of Therapeia, which “served the poor and orphan inhabitants”, was the Ladies’ Charity Society. Another active club was the Charity Society of Therapeia, which operated with the help of Zarifis.24
Therapeia was a place where various sports activities took place. The club “Olympia” was established in 1899 on the initiative of the young studying at the American Robert College. The club was involved in multiple sports activities, as it organised track events, football matches and even horse riding events. After many inactive years during the republican period, the Sports Club of Therapeia (Tarabya Gençlik Kulübü) was reestablished in 1947.25
1. Gyllius, P., İstanbul Boğazı (De Bosporo Thracio) (İstanbul 2000), pp. 130‑131; Βυζάντιος, Σ., Η Κωνσταντινούπολις. Περιγραφή Τοπογραφική, Αρχαιολογική και Ιστορική (Athens 1862), p. 150; Φραγκούδης, Γ., Η Κωνσταντινούπολις (Βυζάντιον‑ Σταμπούλ). Περιγραφή της Κωνσταντινουπόλεως λήγοντος του 19ου αιώνος (Athens 1901), p. 243.
2. Βουτυράς, Σ.Ι. – Καρύδης, Γ., Λεξικόν Ιστορίας και Γεωγραφίας (Constantinople 1881), p. 969.
3. Kömürciyan, E.Ç., İstanbul Tarihi. XVII asırda İstanbul (İstanbul 1988), p. 43.
4. Μήλλας, Α., Σφραγίδες Μητροπόλεων Χαλκηδόνος – Δέρκων (Athens 2000), pp. 272‑273.
5. Evliya Çelebi, Evliya Çelebi Seyahatnamesi, vol. 1‑2, Neşriyat, Ü. (ed.) (İstanbul 1975), p. 318.
6. Türker, O., Therapia’dan Tarabya’ya Boğaz’ın Diplomatlar Köyünün Hikâyesi (İstanbul 2006), pp. 9‑10.
7. Βυζάντιος, Σ., Η Κωνσταντινούπολις. Περιγραφή Τοπογραφική, Αρχαιολογική και Ιστορική (Athens 1862), p. 151.
8. Φραγκούδης, Γ., Η Κωνσταντινούπολις (Βυζάντιον‑Σταμπούλ). Περιγραφή της Κωνσταντινουπόλεως λήγοντος του 19ου αιώνος (Athens 1901), p. 244.
9. Μήλλας, Α., Σφραγίδες Μητροπόλεων Χαλκηδόνος – Δέρκων (Athens 2000), p. 279.
10. Γκίνης, Ν. – Στράτος, Κ., Εκκλησίες της Κωνσταντινούπολης (Athens 1999), pp. 145‑146.
11. Included in Ατζέμογλου, Ν., Τα Αγιάσματα της Πόλης (Athens 1990), pp. 116‑117.
12. Πάπας, Α., “Σημειώσεις επί των Ορθοδόξων Νεκροταφείων της Πόλης κατά τον ΙΘ’ και Κ’ Αιώνα”, Η Καθ’ Ημάς Ανατολή Ε (2000), pp. 39‑40.
13. Ατζέμογλου, Ν., Τα Αγιάσματα της Πόλης (Athens 1990), pp. 116‑120.
14. Ημερολόγιον των Εθνικών Φιλανθρωπικών Καταστημάτων του έτους 1906 (Constantinople 1905), p. 146.
15. Μήλλας, Α., Σφραγίδες Μητροπόλεων Χαλκηδόνος – Δέρκων (Athens 2000), p. 279.
16. Βουτυράς, Σ.Ι. – Καρύδης, Γ., Λεξικόν Ιστορίας και Γεωγραφίας (Constantinople 1881), p. 969.
17. Σταματόπουλος, Κ.Μ., Η τελευταία αναλαμπή. Η κωνσταντινουπολίτικη ρωμηοσύνη στα χρόνια 1948‑1955 (Athens 1996), p. 291.
18. Χρηστίδης, Χ., Τα Σεπτεμβριανά (Athens 2000), p. 305.
19. Μήλλας, Α., Σφραγίδες Μητροπόλεων Χαλκηδόνος – Δέρκων (Athens 2000), p. 281; Türker, O., Therapia’dan Tarabya’ya Boğaz’ın Diplomatlar Köyünün Hikâyesi (İstanbul 2006), pp. 47-50.
20. Büyükkarcı, S., Türkiye’de Rum Okulları (Konya 2003), pp. 155-156.
21. Türker, O., Therapia’dan Tarabya’ya Boğaz’ın Diplomatlar Köyünün Hikâyesi (İstanbul 2006), p. 20.
22. Μήλλας, Α., Σφραγίδες Μητροπόλεων Χαλκηδόνος – Δέρκων (Athens 2000), p. 277.
23. Ημερολόγιον των Εθνικών Φιλανθρωπικών Καταστημάτων του έτους 1906 (Constantinople 1905), pp. 146‑148.
24. Türker, O., Therapia’dan Tarabya’ya Boğaz’ın Diplomatlar Köyünün Hikâyesi (İstanbul 2006), pp. 26‑27; Μήλλας, Α., Σφραγίδες Μητροπόλεων Χαλκηδόνος – Δέρκων (Athens 2000), p. 280.
25. Σιταράς, Α.Ι., “Ο αθλητισμός στα Θεραπειά”, Ο Πολίτης (September 2006), pp. 13‑14.