Wednesday, January 18, 2017


Sultanahmet, Fatih - İstanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°00'36.5"N 28°58'45.0"E / 41.010139, 28.979167

 photo sogukcesme_cistern104.jpg


Soğukçeşme Cistern is on Soğukçeşme street which runs along the wall of Topkapı Palace behind Haghia Sophia. The carved wallstone o f the fountain (çeşme) of Ismail Efendi which lent its name to the street and its date inscription have been placed in the cistern, Inciciyan, who wrote an account of Istanbul in the 18th century, speaks of this cistern as housing a spinning mill, and until the 1980s it was used as a workshop by a car repairer. The Turkish Automobile and Touring Association has restored the cistern along with the tumbledown houses o f the street.

Soğukçeşme Sokağı (literally: Street of the Cold Fountain) is a small street with historic houses in the Sultanahmet neighborhood of Istanbul, Turkey, sandwiched in-between the Hagia Sophia and Topkapı Palace. The car-free zone street is named after the fountain situated at its end towards Gülhane Park. The wooden, two or three-storey Ottoman houses consisting of four to ten rooms date to the 19th to 20th century, and have been restored with the initiative of Çelik Gülersoy in 1985-1986.

Called "Ayasofya Konakları" (Hagia Sophia Mansions), nine of the houses are run as a hostel chain by the Touring and Automobile Club of Turkey (TTOK). The houses are named after the flower shrubs next to them as "Yaseminli Ev" (Jasmine House), "Mor Salkımlı Ev" (Wisteria sinensis House), "Hanımeli Ev" (Honeysuckle House) etc. The buildings are decorated in the 19th century style with furniture including such items as beds and consoles, silk curtains, velvet armchairs and gilded mirrors.

The birthplace of Turkey's 6th president Fahri Korutürk (1903-1987) is also situated in this street. One of the houses hosts the library "İstanbul Kitaplığı" with over 10,000 books about Istanbul owned by the Çelik Gülersoy Foundation.


On one end of the street towards Gülhane Park is a Byzantine cistern, which houses the "Sarnıç Restaurant" today. A further attraction on Soğukçeşme Sokak is Sarnıç Restaurant, an ancient cistern probably of the same age as Hagia Sophia (sixth century) converted into a restaurant. Entering is again like being in another age; a much older one than that of the Ayasofya Pansiyonları. A restaurant of the Republican period in a Roman cistern at the end of an old Ottoman Street.

The extraordinary building with the high domes supported on six stone piers situated at the top of the hill at the end of the row of small hotels in the narrow street immediately behind St. Sophia was orginally built, more than a  thousand years ago, as a cistern. Until recently it was used as an automobile repair shop. The Cistern Tavern is a great and dramatic synthesis a witness, a document of the three thousand years old history of  Istanbul; the capital of three Empires.

Sarnıç is a lovely restaurant situated in one of the historical cisterns dating back to Byzantine times and served as a water source for the city. Traditional Turkish cuisine with a broad variety of mezzes and kebaps.

Soğukçeşme Cistern has been restored by the Turkish Touring and Automobile Association and is now a restaurant. In the heart of Sultanahmet, in Istanbul, you will find a cavernous Roman cistern that predates Aya Sophia itself. This extraordinary structure, with its massive marble columns and lofty brick ceiling, stands at the head of a narrow row of houses that form "Soğukçeşme Sokağı (street)", pressed between the walls of Topkapi Palace and Saint Sophia.

By cleaning out the 1600 year old Roman Cistern (which had, until recent times, fallen into use as a car repair workshop) the Turkish Touring And Automobile association managed to convert the fine old houses of Soğukçeşme Sokağı into a terrace of guesthouses and a restaurant space.

This Roman Cistern Restaurant, named simply “Sarnıç” in Turkish, gives a hint of the natural air conditioning that comes with the the restaurant's structure. Even during the hottest days of summer, The Cistern Restaurant remains pleasantly cool, and in the evening the entire space fills with mysterious ambient light from flickering candles. The impressive location of Sarnıç stands witness to the processes of history that have shaped this amazing city, capital of three successive empires and two-and-a-half thousand years of change.


WEB SITE : Sarnıç Restaurant

E-Mail :
Phone : +90 212 512 4291

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