Levent is a neighbourhood and one of the main business districts of Istanbul, Turkey, located on the European side of the city. It is a part of the municipality of Beşiktaş which is situated to the north of the Golden Horn, at the western shore of the Bosphorus strait.
Levent is in direct competition with the nearby Maslak business district for new skyscraper projects. One of the major skyscraper clusters of the city is located here, well hidden behind the hills of the Bosphorus, and not disturbing the atmosphere of the historical peninsula of Istanbul, which is at quite a distance.
Levent is also a name for men in Turkey; see Levent (name). The name derives from Levend (Marine Soldier) of the Ottoman Navy. Levend itself has derived from Levantino (Levantine) which means Person from the Levant (East Mediterranean) in Italian. This was how the Italians (the Genoese and Venetians) used to call the Ottoman sailors, a name which was also embraced by the Ottoman Turks themselves. The use of the word levend for describing seamen first appeared in the Ottoman Turkish language during the 16th century.
The name Levent (Levend) came to be applied to the neighbourhood because in 1780 the Ottoman Fleet Admiral Cezayirli Gazi Hasan Pasha was awarded a farmland here by the Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamid I; and in the early 19th century a military compound was built in the area of this farm. The nearby İstinye neighbourhood on the European shoreline of the Bosphorus also featured an important shipyard and dock for maintaining and repairing the military vessels of the Ottoman Navy. However, the Imperial Naval Arsenal (Tersâne-i Âmire) and the Naval Ministry (Bahriye Nezareti) of the Ottoman Navy were located on the shores of the Golden Horn.
In the early 19th century, during the final years of the reign of Sultan Selim III, the first military compound of the Nizam-ı Cedid (New Order) Army was built in Levent; which was then known as the Levend Çiftliği (Levend Farmlands), eventually becoming known as the Levend Kışlası (Levend Barracks).
In 1868, during the first territorial organization of the Istanbul Municipality, Levend (Levent) was placed within the district of Beşiktaş (which was designated as the 7th Area of the Istanbul Municipality), having remained within this district ever since.
The modern neighbourhood of Levent was formed in 1947, when Emlak Kredi Bankası (a Turkish bank which was established to finance housing projects) chose the Levent area for constructing a well-planned residential compound, formed mostly of villa type houses with gardens. After the completion of the first phase of the Levent project in 1960, numerous other residential compounds were constructed in the area, eventually extending towards nearby Etiler.
Starting from the late 1980s and early 1990s, with initial projects such as the Sabancı Center, Yapı Kredi Towers, TAT Towers, Metrocity Towers and İş Bankası Towers, Levent became a popular location for constructing new skyscrapers (mostly owned by Turkish banks and conglomerates); and one of the city's major skyline clusters (together with those of Maslak and Şişli on the European side; and Kozyatağı and Ataşehir on the Asian side of Istanbul) was formed in Levent. At present, Levent hosts the tallest skyscraper of Istanbul and Turkey, the 54-floor Istanbul Sapphire; while the construction of numerous new mixed-use skyscraper projects and shopping malls are ongoing in the neighbourhood, which has evolved into a central business district.
References and notes
- Emporis: Levent
- Emporis: Sapphire
- Kıyafet-i Asakir-i Bahriyye: Costumes and ranks of the Ottoman Navy
- Sevan Nişanyan. Sözlerin Soyağacı: Çağdaş Türkçenin Etimolojik Sözlüğü. URL: http://www.nisanyansozluk.com/search.asp?w=levent Retrieved 30 October 2009.
- Haldun Hürel. Semtleri, Mahalleri, Caddeleri ve Sokakları A'dan Z'ye İstanbul'un Alfabetik Öyküsü. İkarus, 2008. ISBN 978-975-999-290-3. Page 220.
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