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Charming street with historical houses – Soğukçeşme Sokağı

Sight in Istanbul

Located between Hagia Sofia and Topkapı Palace, this narrow tree-lined street is known for its historical houses. Walking along Soğukçeşme (“Cold Fountain”) past Ottoman-era residences is like taking a step back in time.

Soğukçeşme Sokağı (“Street of the Cold Fountain”) is a small car-free cobblestone street running downhill between Hagia Sophia and Topkapı Palace. The street is named after a fountain at its end, near Gülhane Park, and is famous primarily for holding historic wooden houses of the Ottoman era. The two-, three-storey houses (four to ten rooms each) were restored (or rather totally rebuilt) in 1985-1986 to give an idea of what typical Istanbul streetscape was like at the turn of the 20th century, before the concrete came over.

Called “Ayasofya Konakları” (Hagia Sophia Mansions), nine of the houses are used as a hostel and are named after the fragrant flower shrubs planted in front of them, namely: “Yaseminli Ev” (Jasmine House), “Mor Salkımlı Ev” (Wisteria Sinensis House), “Hanımeli Ev” (Honeysuckle House), etc. The interior furnishings – beds, consoles, silk curtains, velvet armchairs and gilded mirrors – all feature the original style. Among the notable guests of the hostel, over the years, have been Queen Sofía of Spain, Roman Polanski (film director), Sam Neil (actor), Hilary Swank (actress), Ursula Anders (actress, one of the “Bond girls”), and others.