Istanbul consists of 27 districts, each of which is formed by smaller neighbourhoods, the so-called mahalle. Rumeli Hisari is a mahalle within Sariyer district. It consists of the old village of Rumeli Hisari, next to the Ottoman fortress of the same name, and of Hisar Ustu (which means “above the fortress”) on a hill.
Rumeli Hisari is situated on the European shores of the Bosporus. “Rumeli” here means “European” (as opposed to “Anatolian”: there is an Anadolu Hisari on the Asian side). The fortress was built by Sultan Mehmet II (the Conqueror) in 1452 to expedite the capture of Constantinople by preventing aid coming from the Black Sea. It is one of the most impressive works of Ottoman architecture.
Among the earliest settlers in Rumeli Hisari were Armenian artisans who had come along to build the castle. There is an old Armenian Church and the Armenian cemetery.In his book “The village of Rumeli Hisari” (1956) Ihsan Kesedar, the former muhtar (head of the village), writes that back in the 1940s “there were about 110 Armenian and 300 Turkish families in the village.”
Many Armenians used to work in the nearby Robert College as gardeners, cooks or housekeepers. Robert College was founded in 1863 by Christopher Robert, a wealthy American and the missionary Cyrus Hamlin. It was the oldest American high school outside the borders of the United States.
Currently the majority of the population of Rumeli Hisari are migrants from Anatolia, especially from the Black Sea region.