Readers of our site will know what an important historical site Okmeydanı and its “Archers Lodge” is for Turkish Archery. A literal English translation of Okmeydanı would mean “place of archery/arrows”, “shooting range” or “archery yard”. It was first appropriated for the use of archers right after the conquest of Istanbul by Mehmet II, when he commissioned a guild in order to keep this piece of land for the sole use of archery. His son Beyazid had a lodge established and ordered a facility to be built on the land, with the aim of training exceptional archers. “Archer’s Lodge (Tekye-i Rumât)” as it was known, had witnessed the golden age of Ottoman Archery and endured several fires, demolitions, restorations and rebuilds. It would be during Mahmud II’s reign when Turkish Archery and the lodge would perform their last ascent before the building itself succumbed to an earthquake in 1896. As for Okmeydanı, it would fall victim to urbanisation during the 1950’s.
The restoration of the Lodge, supervised by architect Dr. Sinan Genim and based on miniatures and pictures, had been under way for last few years with the sponsorship of the Mayorship of Istanbul and Beyoglu Municipality. This latest effort is now finalised and the Lodge has risen again.
The guild that was created to deal with restoration, which has the sons of the Turkish Prime Minister and Mayor of Istanbul among its founding members and the AKP (current ruling party in Turkey) principal of Istanbul, Atty. Haydar Ali Yıldız at its head, had been in touch with representatives of several traditional archery groups for the last few months. In the last few weeks these representatives have been summoned along with the Turkish Archery Federation to talk about future ideas with the guild management. Tirendâz was represented by Dr. Murat Özveri and Serkan Tağıt.
In accordance with decisions made during those meetings as well as the initiative of the guild management, the first event at the Archer’s Lodge has taken place. With the official opening ceremony scheduled to take place on the 29th of May (anniversary of the conquest) the first arrows have ceremoniously flown on the 21st of February 2013. Following Qur’an readings, prayers and symbolical shots by the Mayor of Istanbul Dr. Kadir Topbaş and AKP members, archers from Istanbul and from around Anatolia have christened the grounds by releasing their arrows and restarted the tradition. The ceremony was attended by Tirendâz with a team of 34 members.
The second event was the Friday Prayer at the Lodge’s masjid the following day. It was attended by politicians including Dr. Kadir Topbaş, Mayor of Beyoglu Ahmet Misbah Demircan, Haydar Ali Yıldız, several archers and the public.
We as Tirendâz archers, would like to express our gratitude to everybody who has made this project come to life, especially our statesmen. The great service they have done for Turkish Traditional Archery will make History. We hope that this event will be a step towards even more inspiring developments in Turkey.
Here are a few pictures from the event: