KARACA AHMET SULTAN MAUSOLEUM AND A BIG CEMETERY WITH THOUSANDS OF GRAVESTONES
Karaca Ahmet cemetery is the oldest formed in 14th century AD & the largest cemetery of Istanbul which used to be four times bigger than now located in Uskudar district. It covers an area of 750 square acres divided into several parts by the streets & avanues in Asian part. It is believed that it was the first cemetery where the Turkish soldiers were buried during the seige of Constantinople before captured the city. The name was gicen as “ Karacaahmet” on behalf of great sufi. The Karacaahmet cemetery were expropriated four times to build houses & shops in the years of 1917, 1940, 1956 and 1974 so it was destroyed seriously and endangered gravestones were ruined & disappeared. We don’t know how big the magnitude of the damage in Karacaahmet cemetery due to no written records registered. Karacaahmet, who was one of the great sufis & calipsh of Hadjı Baktaşi Vali, lived in 14th century AD and emigrated from Khorasan to Istanbul. As he settled down Uskudar region, he established his lodge and began training the people lşving her according to Hodja Ahmet Yesevi teaching principles. He became so famous in a short time training all kşnd of followers, mainly Baktashi sect members. He had a lot of meetings with Sarı Saltuk-the great sufi in Balcan Countries and Yunus Emre-in Anatolia to spread of İslam. Millions of people both in Balcan Countries and in Anatolia became Muslim after their great efforts and humanity. Karaca Ahmet Mausoleum is situated at Menzilhane Hill today and the shrine has rectangular plan with some addition such as slaughter house, a charity kitchen and Semah ceremony hall. It has been ruled by Karacahmet Foundation authorized by Turkish government as an NGO. The karacahmet fans & ordinary lovers come here as to pay a visit to his Tomb inside and have a wish to come true. When their wishes came true, they come back again with an sacrifice animal and the animals are sacrificed here. The meat from sheep or cows are delivered free to every visitor with candy & sweets as tradition. It has been going on for centuries. Karacaahmet mausoleum is artifical tombs because the real tomb was in Manisa Akhisar according to one legend. Uskudar is the last stop where he settled down but his other tombs can be found in different cities of Turkey as to respect to his soul. Karaca Ahmet was also the famous physican who cured & treated mentally ill people so Karacaahmet shrine has been used as mental hospital to cure & treat them. KaracaAhmet cemetery is located Uskudar at Tunusbağı Street corner and the huge cemetery began enlarging the several streets & roads. The huge cemetery covers more than 750 square acres today although one out fourth is the remain today. The cemetery are divided by several regions called as İnadiye, Tunusbağı, Çiçekçi, Haydarpaşa, İbrahimağa, Seyitahmet deresi, Harmanlık, Nuh kuyusu and Ahçıbaşı districts. The road passing through from Karacaahmet mausoleum to Ayrılık Çeşmesi was the ceremonial road where Surre Regiment used to march with camels & pilgrims to Mecca in Ottoman era. The Ottoman chronicles indicate that Uskudar was conquered in 1352 during the reign of Sultan Orhan and was open to bury the deads here in the reign of Sultan Murat I in 1362 so it is the oldest Turkish cemetery in Asian part of Istanbul. When Baktashi sect was accepted as the main sect of Janissary army, janissaries used to pay a visit Karacahmet Shrine so often. The Mausoleum was built by Gulfem Sultan who was one of the wives of Ottoman Sultan Solomon the magnificent in 16th century. It has been visited by the Janissaries & ordinary people until 1826 and it was banned to be visited by Ottoman sultan Mahmut II later. The Sect & the Mausoleum were closed and the Baktashi rulers were exiled to small towns in Anatolia. It was re-opened for visitors in 1960s and some buildings were added to the main place. When you enter the building through the door on the left side, you can come across with three gravestones ; Şeyh Halil ( died 1688 ), Selim Dede ( died 1732) and Darwish Mehemmed (died 1640 ). Karacaahmet cemetery has thousands of graves & gravestones as the biggest & oldest cemetery in Istanbul. Nobody knows how many thousands of graves & gravestones are existed such as large cemetery area. Grand viziers, pashas, famous officials, Janissaries, poets, artists, calligraphers, stonemasons, artisans and so many different class of people had been buried here for about 700 years. According to oral tradiitions and some records mention that ecah class had been buried a special regions called as “ Sofa “ . For example Janissaries had been buried “ Janissarries' sofası “ where nobody were allowed to be buried except Janissaries so The visitors can realize the special places called as “ sofa “ while visiting the huge cemetery. In short, Karacaahmet cemetery is the largest & oldest and the most famous cemetery in Istanbul in which a real open-air gravestone museum located in uskudar district today. All the graves, Sarcophagus, coffins and gravestones are worth visiting, examining in details and reading the inscriptions on them. If someone, who is keen on learning the Ottoman history in details, is recommended to visit Karacaahmet cemetery at once to see different gravestones belonging to different time periods as a filmstrip.