Born (1611-Template:MONTHNUMBER-25)25, 1611
Constantinople, Flag of Ottoman Empire Ottoman Empire
Died 1682
Cairo, Flag of Ottoman Empire Ottoman Empire
Other names Tchelebi in French , Tchalabi or Chalabi in English

Evliya Çelebi (March 25(?), 1611 – 1682) (Ottoman Turkish:اوليا چلبى) was an Ottoman Turkish traveler who journeyed through the territory of the Ottoman Empire and neighboring lands over a period of forty years.[1]

Life Edit

Evliya Çelebi was born in Constantinople in 1611 to a family from Kütahya. His father was Derviş Mehmed Zilli, a jeweller for the Ottoman court. His mother was an Abkhazian, a relative of the later grand vizier Melek Ahmed Pasha.[2] Coming from a wealthy family, he received a court education by the Imperial ulema.[3] He may have joined the Gülşenî sufi order- as evidenced by his intimate knowledge of the sufi lodge in Cairo, and a graffito in which he referred to himself as "Evliya-yı Gülşenî" (Evliya of the Gülşenî).[Citation needed] A devout Muslim opposed to fanaticism, he could recite the Koran from memory and joked freely about Islam. Though employed as a religious expert and entertainer to the Ottoman grandees, Çelebi refused to take an official job that would keep him from travelling.[3] He began his travels in Constantinople, taking notes on buildings, markets, customs and culture; in 1640, he started his first journey outside the city. His collection of notes from all of his travels formed a ten-volume work called the Seyahatname (Book of Travels). He fought the Hapsburgs in Transylvania.

He died sometime after 1682; it is unclear whether he was in Constantinople or Cairo at the time.



File:Mostar Old Town Panorama.jpg

According to Evliya Çelebi, the name Mostar means "bridge-keeper." Of the bridge, 28 meters long and 20 meters high, Çelebi wrote that "the bridge is like a rainbow arch soaring up to the skies, extending from one cliff to the other. ...I, a poor and miserable slave of Allah, have passed through 16 countries, but I have never seen such a high bridge. It is thrown from rock to rock as high as the sky."[4]


Çelebi purported to have encountered Native Americans as a guest in Rotterdam during his visit of 1663. He wrote, “[they] cursed those Jesuits, saying, 'Our world used to be peaceful, but it has been filled by greedy colonialists, who make war every year and shorten our lives’”.[1]


Of oil merchants in Baku Çelebi writes: "By Allah's decree petroleum bubbles up out of the ground, but in the manner of hot springs, pools of water are formed with petroleum congealed on the surface like cream. Merchants wade into these pools and collect petroleum in ladles and fill goatskins with it, these oil merchants then sell them in different regions. Revenues from the trade of this oil trade are directly delivered annually to the Safavid Shah."

Crimean KhanateEdit

File:Карло Боссоли. Татары, путешествующие по степи.jpg

Evliya Çelebi remarked on the impact of Cossack raids from Azak upon the territories of the Crimean Khanate, destroying trade routes and severely depopulating the regions. By the time of Çelebi's arrival, many of towns visited were impacted by the Cossack- and the only locality he reported safe was the Ottoman fortress at Arabat.[5]


In 1667 the Turkish traveler Evliya Çelebi expressed marvel at the Parthenon's sculptures and figuratively described the building as "like some impregnable fortress not made by human agency."[6] He composed a poetic supplication that it, as "a work less of human hands than of Heaven itself, should remain standing for all time."[7]

The SeyahatnameEdit

Although many of the descriptions in this book were written in an exaggerated manner or were plainly inventive fiction or 3rd-source misinterpretation, his notes are widely accepted as a useful guide to the cultural aspects and lifestyle of 17th-century Ottoman Empire. The first volume deals exclusively with Constantinople, the final volume with Egypt. Despite being characterized as unreliable, the work is valued as both a study of Turkish culture and the lands he reports on.

Currently, there is no English translation of the entire work. There are translations of various parts of the Seyahatname, but not the whole. The longest single English translation was published in 1834 by Ritter Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall, an Austrian Orientalist; it may be found under the name "Evliya Efendi." Von Hammer's work covers the first two volumes: Constantinople and Anatolia, but is antiquated. Other translations include Erich Prokosch's nearly complete German translations of the tenth volume, the 2004 introductory work entitled The World of Evliya Çelebi: An Ottoman Mentality written by University of Chicago professor Robert Dankoff, and Dankoff and Sooyong Kim's 2010 translation of select excerpts of the ten volumes An Ottoman Traveller: Selections from the Book of Travels of Evliya Çelebi.

Evliya is noted for having collected specimens from language he traveled in each region. There are some thirty Turkic dialects and languages cataloged in the Travelogue cataloged. Çelebi notes the similarities between several words from the German and Persian, though he denies any common Indo-European heritage. The Travelogue also contains the first transcriptions of many Caucasian languages and Tsakonian, and the only extant specimens of written Ubykh outside the linguistic literature.

In the ten volumes of his Seyahatname he describes the following journeys:

  1. Constantinople and surrounding areas (1630)
  2. Anatolia, the Caucasus, Crete and Azerbaijan (1640)
  3. Syria, Palestine, Armenia and Rumelia (1648)
  4. Eastern Anatolia, Iraq, and Iran (1655)
  5. Russia and the Balkans (1656)
  6. Military Campaigns in Hungary (1663/64)
  7. Austria, the Crimea, and the Caucasus for the second time (1664)
  8. Greece and then the Crimea and Rumelia for the second time (1667–1670)
  9. the Hajj to Mecca (1671)
  10. Egypt and the Sudan (1672)

Popular cultureEdit

İstanbul Kanatlarımın Altında (Istanbul Under My Wings, 1996) is a film about the lives of Hezarfen Ahmet Çelebi, his brother Lagari Hasan Çelebi, and the Ottoman society in the early 17th century, during the reign of Murad IV, as witnessed and narrated by Evliya Çelebi.

Çelebi appears in Orhan Pamuk's novel The White Castle, and is featured in the The Adventures of Captain Bathory (Dobrodružstvá kapitána Báthoryho) novels by Slovak writer Juraj Červenák.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO included the 400th anniversary of Ottoman traveler and scholar Evliya Celebi's birth to its timetable for celebration of anniversaries.[8]


For a recently published bibliography of about 700 titles see: Robert Dankoff: An Evliya Çelebi Bibliography (PDF, 852 KB)

In TurkishEdit

  • Nuran Tezcan, Semih Tezcan (Edit.), Doğumunun 400. Yılında Evliya Çelebi, T.C. Kültür ve Turizm Bakanlığı Yayınları, Ankara 2011
  • Robert Dankoff, Nuran Tezcan, Evliya Çelebi'nin Nil Haritası - Dürr-i bî misîl în ahbâr-ı Nîl,Yapı Kredi Yayınları 2011
  • Evliya Çelebi. Evliya Çelebi Seyahatnâmesi. Beyoğlu, İstanbul: Yapı Kredi Yayınları Ltd. Şti., 1996-. 10 vols.
  • Evliya Çelebi: Seyahatnamesi. 2 Vol. Cocuk Klasikleri Dizisi. Berlin 2005. ISBN 975-379-160-7 (A selection translated into modern Turkish for children)

In EnglishEdit

  • Robert Dankoff: An Ottoman Mentality. The World of Evliya Çelebi. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2004.
  • Klaus Kreiser, "Evliya Çelebi,"; eds. C. Kafadar, H. Karateke, C. Fleischer. October 2005.
  • Evliya Çelebi’s Book of Travels. Evliya Çelebi in Albania and Adjacent Regions (Kosovo, Montenegro). The Relevant Sections of the Seyahatname. Trans. and Ed. Robert Dankoff. Leiden and Boston 2000. ISBN 90-04-11624-9
  • Evliya Çelebi in Diyarbekir: The Relevant Section of The Seyahatname. Trans. and Ed. Martin van Bruinessen and Hendrik Boeschoten. New York : E.J. Brill, 1988.
  • The Intimate Life of an Ottoman Statesman: Melek Ahmed Pasha (1588-1662) as Portrayed in Evliya Çelebi's Book of Travels. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991.
  • Narrative of travels in Europe, Asia, and Africa, in the seventeenth century, by Evliyá Efendí. Trans. Ritter Joseph von Hammer. London: Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland, 1846.
  • Çelebi, Evliya (1834): Narrative of travels in Europe, Asia, and Africa, in the seventeenth century (1834), vol 1
  • Çelebi, Evliya (1834): Narrative of travels in Europe, Asia, and Africa, in the seventeenth century (1834), vol 2
  • Evliya Çelebi: Selected Stories by Evliya Çelebi, edited by Zeynep Üstün, translated by Havva Aslan, Profil Yayıncılık, Istanbul 2007 ISBN 978-975-996-072-8

In GermanEdit

  • Im Reiche des Goldenen Apfels. Des türkischen Weltenbummlers Evliâ Çelebis denkwürdige Reise in das Giaurenland und die Stadt und Festung Wien anno 1665. Trans. R. Kreutel, Graz, et al. 1987.
  • Kairo in der zweiten Hälfte des 17. Jahrhunderts. Beschrieben von Evliya Çelebi. Trans. Erich Prokosch. Istanbul 2000. ISBN 975-7172-35-9
  • Ins Land der geheimnisvollen Func: des türkischen Weltenbummlers, Evliyā Çelebi, Reise durch Oberägypten und den Sudan nebst der osmanischen Provinz Habes in den Jahren 1672/73. Trans. Erich Prokosch. Graz: Styria, 1994.
  • Evliya Çelebis Reise von Bitlis nach Van: ein Auszug aus dem Seyahatname. Trans. Christiane Bulut. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1997.
  • Manisa nach Evliyā Çelebi: aus dem neunten Band des Seyāḥat-nāme. Trans. Nuran Tezcan. Boston: Brill, 1999.
  • Evliyā Çelebis Anatolienreise aus dem dritten Band des Seyāḥatnāme. Trans. Korkut M. Buğday. New York: E.J. Brill, 1996.
  • Klaus Kreiser: Edirne im 17. Jahrhundert nach Evliyâ Çelebî. Ein Beitrag zur Kenntnis der osmanischen Stadt. Freiburg 1975. ISBN 3-87997-045-9
  • Helena Turková: Die Reisen und Streifzüge Evliyâ Çelebîs in Dalmatien und Bosnien in den Jahren 1659/61. Prag 1965.

See alsoEdit


External linksEdit

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