At the intersection of Teşvikiye, Osmanbey, Valikonağı and Harbiye there is a stone that is the symbol of Nişantaşı; this stone gave the district its name. On the stone is written: “This work of art was made by Sultan Mecid for no compensation.” This stone commemorates the donation of this land of the public by the sultan; in the Ottoman Empire all the land belonged to the sultan. The district, once composed of vast orchilds and strawberry fields, starts from the hill behind Dolmabahçe Palace and extends from Maçka through Teşvikiye, Rumeli Street and the Governor’s Mansion.
In the Ottoman Empire there were archerry competetions; the furthest point where an arrow was shot would be marked by stone column. The name of the Nisantasi (meaning marker stone) district is derived from these columns. Moreover, such columns have been used since the Roman era to mark distances. The stones erected on the order of Sultan Abdulmecid were placed to Mark Teşvikiye. This region was the area where target practice was carried out during the early year of the Nizam-ı Cedid (New Order, the first attempt at Westernization in the 18th century) in the Ottoman Empire. A small wooden mosque was built as a resting place and place for to pray during the displays of skill, and acted as the foundation for the current Teşvikiye Mosque, the first building to be erected in Nisantasi. A primary school was built on the order of the sultan in the current location of the Sait Çiftçi Primary School.
With the move of the royal residence to Dolmabahçe Palace the district became a popular area for members of the royal family and leading statesmen, thus gaining importance. Abdulmecid had two inscribed stones erected in the region indicating his intention that it was to be a residential area. Nişantaşı is close to Pera and due to the fact that Pera was a trade center this new settlement developed rapidly, Nisantasi — with its rich history and socio-cultural mosaic– is one of the more important districts of Istanbul . Here there are a large number of coffee houses, restaurants and retail stores. The old structures ofwesternized Nisantasi reflect its history.
This was the first building to be constructed in Nisantasi, which previously had been empty and inhabited land. The original mosque was verry small and became ru down, and unable to meet the need of the local people. According to the inscription on the gate of the sultan’s gallery, which praises the city, the mosque was constructed on the orders of Sultan Abdulmecid. There two target stones (nişantaşı) in the courtyard of the mosque. The inscription on one of the target stones tells us that Sultan Selim III shot an arrow a distance of 1,260 gez (a measuring unit equivalent to the length of an arrow). The other inscription provides us with the same information about Sultan Mahmud II.