The Kadıköy neighborhood of Moda is home to several underrated architectural treasures. Many were designed by one man: the versatile, talented, but little known architect Constantine Pappa.
By Lorenza MussiniOn Moda Caddesi, opposite the famous Ali Usta ice cream shop, a majestic but gloomy-looking building may be spotted behind grey high walls. Occasionally there are a couple of lights on, but the house—once a vibrant mansion—often appears largely abandoned.
Along with many other significant villas and mansions in Moda, the building was designed by Constantine Pappa, an architect of Greek origin born in Istanbul in 1868. After studying at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, Pappa returned to Istanbul in 1898, and settled in Moda—where many Ottoman minorities were living at the time. He began working on this building, known as the Sarıca Arif Paşa Konağı. Moda Caddesi No.147
Commissioned by the Sarıca family, whose descendants still reside in the building, and built between 1903-06, this mansion is a curious mix between a family villa and an apartment complex, and served as an Armenian school for a brief period during World War I. As Arif Paşa—who had been the doctor of Sultan Abdulhamid II at the Yıldız Palace—often hosted illustrious notables and intellectuals, the architect Pappa wanted to design the building so that the family, their servants, and the guests could have separate and private spaces as well as common areas for convivial moments. The dual function of the house is reflected through its design; the main façade looking west onto Moda Caddesi has a grand neoclassical gate with two columns framing the steps, while the side of the building has a simple doorway that looks like the entrance to a typical apartment block.
Pappa would go on to design several other significant buildings in the neighborhood. Walking past the famous Moda çay garden, located above the shore, with a sweeping view across the water to the historic peninsula, the street leads to Moda Burnu.
The beautiful views and vantage point of the neighborhood was surely why Andrea Antipa, a doctor of Greek origins, commissioned Pappa to design Antipa Köşkü. Built right after the Arif Paşa mansion (finished sometime between 1904-14), this is a little palace. The light style and colors, the simplicity of the lines, as well as the balustrade along the stairs leading to the main door, show strong art nouveau influences. The building was sold to Ferit and Müfide Tek in 1952; Ferit Tek was an Ottoman-born Turkish military officer, academic, politician, and diplomat. The property later came under the ownership of the TEK-ESİN Foundation, which researches and archives the history of Turkish and Central Asian art.
But the mansion fell into disrepair. Several fires during the 1990s destroyed the wooden staircases, and parts of the walls and roof. The building was almost ruined before its renovation in 2010, and now operates as the home of the TEK-ESİN Foundation. On the corner where Ferit Tek Sokak meets Nene Hatun Sokak
Walking around the cape, and located on a sidestreet on the other side of Moda, is the house purchased by the legendary Turkish rock star Barış Manço in 1984 and where he lived until his death in 1999. The property, which was converted into a museum dedicated to the icon in 2010, is the remaining one of twin villas (built between 1895-1900) that an English family, the Dawsons, had commissioned Pappa to design for them. The building’s Victorian style, with white marble framing the windows and the doors, and wrought iron balconies, shows the sheer range of Pappa’s architectural styles. Yusuf Kamil Paşa Sokak No.5
Pappa died in 1931 and was buried in the Rum Orthodox cemetery of Hasanpaşa in Kadıköy. While he designed many celebrated buildings across Istanbul, Moda was where he spent most of his life and where most of his buildings can be found. Some of them—such as the Mano Palas—were demolished to make way for modern apartment blocks, but many remain as a testament to his major contribution to Moda’s rich architectural history.