”In the Byzantine era the main area of Ortakoy was known as Damianou named after the 9th century Byzantine monastery built by the statesman Damianos. Although initially neglected by the Ottomans, by the 16th century Oratkoy had become an important settlement in which all monotheistic religions were represented.
The village’s major monuments are the Buyuk Mecidiye Mosque, the Russian Orthodox Church of Aghios Fokas, the Etz Ahayim Synagogue and the Ortakoy Public Bath. At the point where the Buyuk Mescidiye Mosque stands on Defterdar Point, known by the Byzantines as Kleidion ( Key to the Bosphorus ), there was formerly a small mosque built by Mahmut Aga in 1721. This was renovated and enlarged in the middle of the same century. Abdulmecit had the present Buyuk Mecidiye Mosque constructed here in 1853. Abdulmecid’s Imperial Monogram appears above the entrance to the mosque designed by Nigogos Balyan. Inscribed on official documents and stamped on metal or glass artifacts, currency and monuments, the imperial monogram served as the sultan’s signature. Opposite the mosque stands the Grand Vizier Nevsehirli Damat Ibrahim Pasa Fountain built in 1723.
The Etz Ahayim Synagogue dates from the 17th century. The synagogue’s congregation was initially composed of Jews who settled in Ortakoy after the 1618 fire in the Great Bazaar and increased with the migrations that followed the fires of 1660 and 1718.
Other buildings of Ortakoy include the waterside residences of Hatice Sultan, Fehime sultan and Esma sultan. The residence of Murat V’s daughter Hatice Sultan was used as an orphanage and primary school after the Ottoman dynasty was exiled. The residence of Fehime Sultan, anoyher of Murat V’s daughters, is now the Gazi Osman Pasa Primary School. The Esma Sultan Yalisi, designed by Sarkis Balyan for Abdulaziz’s daughter Esma Sultan, was used for a while as a tobacco warehouse after the Republic