Sapanca is like the backyard of Istanbul for its many beautiful aspects. Bordering Adapazarı to the east, Lake Sapanca to the north, Kocaeli to the west and Pamukova, Geyve and Samanlı Mountains to the south, this lovely district is a frequent weekend getaway destination for those wishing to shake off the fatigue of city rush. Now let’s take a look at the history of this beautiful district and the surrounding area of Lake Sapanca.
A historical heritage dating back to around 1200 BC ago
We need to travel a lot back in time to have an idea of the history of Sapanca. Sapanca became to be known as a residential area after the Phrygians settled there around 1200 BC. But it was during the era of the Kingdom of Bithynia, in around 378 AC, when its residential characteristic took its final form. Sapanca was first referred to as Siphonensis Lacus in a Laz resource in 391. And during the era of the Eastern Roman Empire, it was referred to as Sophange, Sophan and Buanes.
The Anatolian Seljuk Sultanate people are known to have lived in the region in 1075. At the time Sapanca was known as Ayanköy and Ayan. However, during the Crusades, the region once again fell under the dominance of the Byzantines. Evliya Çelebi wrote the following for Sapanca in one of his journeys in 1640:
“Back in the days, there was an old man from İzmit who would plow the soil clearing off the bushes, and this later led to the establishment of a village called Sabancı Koca (The Plowing Old Man). As the time passed by, this village thrived and became a town during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent.”
Rüstem Pasha contributes to the region
Rüstem Pasha ordered for the construction of many buildings in the region during Suleiman the Magnificent. There he built a khan with 170 chimneys and the inside of which was home to a mosque, a bazaar and about 100 houses with tile roof. Majority of the buildings bear the signature of Sinan the Architect.
Greeks take possession of Sapanca
Sapanca fell into the hands of Greeks during the Turkish War of Independence. Yet it was liberated on June 22, 1921. Following liberation, Corps Commander Kemalettin Sami Pasha visited the region and paved the way for the construction of an elementary school there in 1922. Soldiers paid for the construction of most parts of the school while some parts were built thanks to Münir Bey. And in 1926 Sapanca Elementary opened its doors. Another important name that should be mentioned is İsmail Hakkı Süerdem who made great efforts for the region, including helping it get rid of invading armies.
Sapanca becomes a district and serves an important mission
In 1837 Adapazarı became an administrative district. Following this development Sapanca was made a district under this administrative zone. In the old days, the Bolu- İzmit roadway was running through Sapanca. Kâtip Çelebi mentioned this roadway in his Cihannüma saying that when the waters surged, he would get on the horseback to run through a half a mile of water. This same description was also made by Charles Texier in the 19th century. Passersby would sometimes move on the lake sand and sometimes would fight off the water rising up to the level of the saddle. With the introduction of a railway in 1890, the narrow waterfront became available for travelling. Though after the construction of the railway the officials opened a highway which put an end to the function of the narrow waterfront. This highway made its way behind the slopes during the Republican era. And this made it possible for Sapanca to continue to serve as a transportation hub throughout history. The fact that the E5 Highway was running through the other side of the lake in the 1950s caused the region to fall off the radar, however, the region gained its popularity again in 1989 with the introduction of the TEM Highway.
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