Kuruçeşme

Kurucesme

Kuruçeşme: the heart of the Bosphorus

Kuruçeşme, situated on the European side of Istanbul as part of the Beşiktaş district along the Bosphorus, is characterized by an extensive coastline and a sparse residential population. The limited number of households in this upscale neighborhood, nestled between Ortaköy and Arnavutköy and home to around 2800 residents, is attributed to the prevalence of green groves covering significant areas within its borders, alongside the presence of numerous detached luxury houses.

Speaking of groves, the neighborhood actually got its name from these groves.

From Koruçeşme to Kuruçeşme …History of the neighborhood

Similar to many neighborhoods along the Bosphorus, Kuruçeşme has its roots traced back to the Byzantine Empire. Referred to by various names such as Bithias, Kalamos, and Amopolos, the neighborhood once boasted denser forests and steep slopes ascending towards Ulus. Historical accounts suggest the presence of temples and altars on the hills of Kuruçeşme during the Byzantine era, serving as dwellings for priests. While no remnants exist today, historical records indicate the existence of synagogues and Jewish cemeteries in this vicinity.

Let's delve into the topic of fountains. During those eras, numerous water springs emerged from the slopes of Kuruçeşme. The neighborhood was renowned for its ayazmas, a term denoting sacred and healing water sources, springs, or wells, predominantly associated with Greek beliefs. The natural landscape of the region remained intact until the late Ottoman period. In exchange for the Greek ayazmas, the Ottomans introduced several fountains to the area. One such fountain, Köprülü Nurse Fountain, was constructed in the 17th century. Initially recognized as Koruçeşme due to its abundant groves and fountains, the landscape underwent changes over time. The water sources gradually diminished, groves gave way to houses, and the fountains dried up one after another. When the prominent Köprülü Nurse Fountain also ceased to flow, the neighborhood became known

Translucent, elegant and rich

Since the Ottoman era, Kuruçeşme has held a distinctive and privileged status. While foreign diplomats, statesmen, as well as Jews and Greek non-Muslims serving in the Ottoman Empire favored Arnavutköy for residence, Kuruçeşme was a locale where one could reside with the explicit permission of the Sultan. Presently, the neighborhood predominantly features mansions, private luxury complexes, and detached houses, with a scarcity of apartment-style settlements.

The primary thoroughfares in the neighborhood are Muallim Naci Street and Kuruçeşme Street. Interestingly, they are essentially the same street; it is named Muallim Naci Street from Ortaköy to Tezkereci Osman Efendi Mosque, and it transforms into Kuruçeşme Street beyond the mosque. This street also represents a segment of the highway stretching from Karaköy to Sarıyer, the final settlement in the northern part of the Bosphorus.

As you cruise down Muallim Naci and Kuruçeşme Avenue, you swiftly grasp the essence of the neighborhood. Exclusive restaurants, vibrant clubs, and stylish cafes, along with showrooms offering ultra-luxurious cars and yachts adorning the waterfront, paint a vivid picture of Kuruçeşme. While it holds historical significance, it exudes a contemporary aura—fashionable, chic, and synonymous with affluence.

Particularly on Friday and Saturday evenings, extended traffic congestions are common due to the renowned nightclubs and restaurants along this thoroughfare. Caution is advised, as securing a parking spot during these nights can be challenging, and parking attendants eagerly anticipate their customers. Hence, if you plan to visit Kuruçeşme over the weekend with your private vehicle, be ready for limited parking availability and potential traffic delays.

The narrowest street in Istanbul: Alayli Sokak

In Kuruçeşme, there is a unique alley known as Alaylı Street, measuring a mere 89 centimeters in width. Bordered by Tezkereci Mehmet Efendi Mosque on one side and accessible from the vicinity of Köprülü Nurse Fountain, this narrow pathway is so restricted that two individuals cannot walk alongside each other. Alaylı Street serves as a shortcut for residents in the inner part of the neighborhood, linking to Alay Emini Street on the opposite side of the mosque, and is commonly frequented.

Drying fountains

The fountain that bestowed its name upon the neighborhood, Kuruçeşme, is believed to be the Köprülü Hemşire Fountain. Situated at the beginning of Kuruçeşme Street, leaning against the wall of Tezkereci Osman Efendi Mosque, this fountain was commissioned by the sister of Köprülü Fazıl Ahmet Pasha, a prominent statesman of the Ottoman Empire. The inscription on the fountain, dated Hijri 1093, equivalent to the Gregorian year 1682-83, contains a few lines of text but does not mention the name of Köprülü Fazıl Ahmet Pasha's sister. In 1983, the fountain underwent restoration and was integrated into the city network.

The Fountain of Tezkereci Osman Efendi Mosque is positioned on the opposite side of the mosque, near the onset of Alay Emini Street. It is believed that the construction of the fountain coincided with the building of the mosque in the 1740s. The decorations on the rectangular marble structure are graceful and intricately curved. The lower section of the fountain, featuring a faucet, is crafted from marble and forms a basin.

The Kadın Efendi Fountain, situated along Muallim Naci Street, stands as an elegant structure facing the thoroughfare. Positioned between Ortaköy and Kuruçeşme, directly across from today's Macrocenter, this refined fountain was constructed in 1909. The inscription on the fountain proudly displays the tughra of Sultan Mehmed V. It further reveals that the fountain was commissioned by Dürrüaden Kadın Efendi, Sultan Mehmed V's third wife, and the esteemed mother of Prince Necmeddin.

The Beyhan Sultan Fountain, situated on Alay Emini Street behind Tezkereci Osman Efendi Mosque, has undergone alterations that have significantly altered its original appearance. Constructed in 1801-1802, the fountain was commissioned by Beyhan Sultan, the daughter of Sultan Mehmed III and sister to Selim III.

A black stain on the history of Kuruçeşme

Kuruçeşme, an exquisite location on the Bosphorus, once hosted numerous mansions, including two particularly remarkable ones: the Naciye Sultan Mansion and the Nazime Sultan Mansion, both designed by the renowned architect Raimondo d'Aranco. The mansion owned by Nazime Sultan, the daughter of Sultan Abdülaziz, featured an avant-garde style unprecedented on the Bosphorus. Remarkably, following the fire at Çırağan Palace, this mansion served as the Parliament Assembly. Unfortunately, this mansion, along with many others in its vicinity, fell victim to fires, demolitions, or neglect, driven by incorrect planning, road construction, and the evolving needs of Istanbul at the time. The extensive coastal area that once housed these mansions underwent a transformation into Istanbul's coal distribution depot. Until the 1980s, Kuruçeşme endured a fate shrouded in coal dust as Istanbul's coal depot.

The space that was once occupied by distinctive mansions and later repurposed as a coal depot has now been transformed into an enclave hosting upscale restaurants, hotels, clubs, and Kuruçeşme Park.

The place where Atatürk's yacht was anchored

In 1938, the health condition of Gazi Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, began to deteriorate. In order for him to rest, one of the most beautiful yachts in the world, named Savarona, was purchased by the government of the time on February 23, 1938. However, unfortunately, Atatürk passed away 8 months later. The Savarona yacht was also anchored in Kuruçeşme, perhaps the most beautiful spot on the Bosphorus, for years until a few years ago. Today, Savarona is anchored at the Istanbul Shipyard Command in Pendik, but the place where it left is one of the most popular locations for yacht charter tourism today. In this location, where the pearl of the Bosphorus, the July 15 Martyrs Bridge, rises to the sky with all its majesty, the charter yachts anchored against the Kuruçeşme park and sparkling nightclubs add a different beauty to the beauty of the Bosphorus. Istanbul lovers, who rent on an hourly or daily basis, can even celebrate special days on these yachts and even project their messages on the floor of the bridge with lasers. Even watching these yachts while on the coast of Kuruçeşme is a pleasure in itself, imagine how much you would enjoy it if you were on one of those yachts.

Important buildings and architectural monuments you should see in Kuruçeşme

Similar to Arnavutköy, Kuruçeşme is a neighborhood that has steadfastly resisted the trends of overdevelopment and high-rise construction. Wandering amidst the 2-3 storey structures amid lush greenery is a delightful experience. As you explore, you'll undoubtedly encounter numerous architectural gems that captivate the eye. However, we've compiled a list of key places you shouldn't miss during your exploration:

Tezkereci Osman Efendi Mosque

Tezkereci Osman Efendi Mosque, originally constructed on the Kuruçeşme coastline during the Ottoman era, is commonly referred to as Kuruçeşme Mosque today. The mosque, situated along the Kuruçeşme-Arnavutköy Coastal Road, dates back to the year 1740. Commissioned by Osman Efendi, the Tezkereci (official responsible for official correspondence) of Sultan Mahmud I, the records do not specify the mosque's architect. However, it is widely believed that a smaller place of worship existed at the site previously, which was reconstructed and transformed into the mosque we see today. Notably, the Köprülü Nurse Fountain is integrated into the wall of this mosque.

Defterdar Ibrahim Pasha Mosque

Constructed in 1661 along the stretch between Ortaköy and Kuruçeşme, this mosque was commissioned by İbrahim Pasha, a bookkeeper from the 17th century. Commonly known as the Defterdarburnu Mosque and İhmal Pasha Mosque, this place of worship, situated on Muallim Naci Street, is directly facing the sea. Due to its location at a lower elevation from the road, access to the mosque is facilitated by a staircase.

Surp Haç Church

As you move away from the coastline and explore the labyrinthine inner streets, you'll encounter churches, such as the Armenian Surp Haç Church on Kırbaç Street. Originating from the late 1700s during the leadership of Patriarch Kağızmanlı Zakarya II, the church was consecrated and inaugurated for worship in 1798. Architect Garabet Balyan oversaw its restoration or reconstruction in 1834, and a bell tower was later incorporated in 1858.

Ayios Dimitrios Greek Orthodox Church

True to its name, the Greek community's church, constructed in 1798, underwent restoration in 1832. The current church site in Heybeliada once housed a seminary. Notably, an intriguing feature of the church is the presence of a tunnel leading to the Ayazma of Aya Sotiros. The source of water for the ayazma is a mere 40 meters from its location. The constant drip of water from the basin walls adds an extra layer of fascination to this sacred site.

Ayios Yani Greek Orthodox Church

Situated at the crossroads of Kuruçeşme and Arnavutköy, along Kuruçeşme Avenue, this church is enclosed by imposing stone walls. With a modest wooden tower, the church is visible from the street.

Muhsinzade Mehmed Pasha Mansion

The present-day Les Ottomans Hotel originally served as the residence of Muhsinzade Mehmed Pasha, who held the position of Grand Vizier during the reigns of Sultan Mustafa III and Abdülhamit I. Constructed in the mid-18th century, this mansion belonged to Pasha, who married the daughter of Ahmet III. Until the 1920s, the grandchildren of Pasha resided in this mansion, one of the nine lining the coast of Beşiktaş. Subsequently repurposed as a coal and sand depot, the mansion underwent restoration in 2002 after being sold by a consortium of 22 heirs. It was then reintroduced to Turkish tourism as Les Ottomans Hotel.

Galatasaray Island

Galatasaray Island, situated a mere 165 meters off the Kuruçeşme shores, is a compact 6000 m2 island, making it one of the two islands in the Bosphorus, alongside the Maiden's Tower. In 1872, Sultan Abdülaziz granted the island to the renowned architect Sarkis Balyan as a settlement for palace debts. Sarkis Balyan encircled the island with a wall and erected a residence within its confines. Subsequently, the island served briefly as a loading point for coal onto city line ferries, earning it the moniker "Coal Island." In 1957, Galatasaray acquired the island from the Balyan heirs, transforming it into a social facility for swimming, water polo, and rowing sports. Over time, it transitioned away from sports to being rented by private tourist enterprises, adopting the names Buzada and Suada. Presently, the island serves as a venue for meetings and events organized by the Galatasaray Club, featuring a café, restaurant, bar, and swimming pool.

Groves

One of the enchanting features of Kuruçeşme lies in the groves adorning its slopes. Regrettably, these groves, once widespread across the area, have progressively diminished. The last remaining four groves are privately owned, and public visits are not permitted. Special permission might grant access, especially as some of these groves encompass historical mansions. The Naile Sultan Grove, spanning 49 thousand square meters, originally belonged to Naile Sultan, the daughter of Sultan Abdülhamit II. The Naile Sultan Mansion, situated within it, was sold by Naile Sultan upon her return from exile in 1952. While the mansion still stands, luxury villas were constructed in the grove during the 80s. The grove boasts a variety of trees, including red pine, buckthorn, magnolia, pistachio pine, mahaleb, atlas cedar, cypress, flowering ash, and linden.Adjacent to the Naile Sultan Grove is the Naciye Sultan Grove, covering 33 thousand square meters and belonging to Emine Naciye Sultan, the daughter of Prince Süleyman Selim, the son of Sultan Abdülmecid. The historical Enver Pasha Mansion is nestled within this grove, with the mansion still standing. However, similar to the Naile Sultan Grove, luxury villas now populate this space. The Emin Vafi Grove is comparatively smaller. Originally owned by Naime Sultan, she sold the land to Emin Vafi, a Cretan businessman, during her exile.Emin Vafi erected stylish villas on this grove, with the notable China House being one of them, designed by the renowned architect Bruno Taut. Bruno Taut also crafted the design for Atatürk's catafalque. The largest among the groves contributing to Kuruçeşme's verdant ambiance is the Halide Hanım Grove, crowned by TRT studios situated at its pinnacle.

Kuruçeşme Park

The seaside park is under the ownership of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. Within this park, you can pause amid the lush surroundings, taking in the sight of Kuleli Military High School across the water and relishing the panoramic views of Çengelköy and the imposing presence of the July 15th Martyrs Bridge.

Kuruçeşme Open Air Concert Area

The concert venue, hosting the finest concerts in Istanbul throughout the year, except for the winter season, is situated between Muallim Naci Street and the waterfront. The concerts and events held at this location, featuring its breathtaking view and the refreshing Bosphorus breeze, constitute a significant aspect of Istanbul's cultural scene. If you haven't experienced a concert or event here, you can't claim to have fully lived in Istanbul.

Kuruçeşme and gastronomy

For the past three decades, Kuruçeşme has stood as the epitome of luxury entertainment in Istanbul. Particularly in the summer months, its open-air venues have transformed Kuruçeşme into a renowned brand not just within Istanbul but also across Turkey and globally. Establishments like Pasha, Laila, and Havana Reina gained immense popularity with their innovative concepts encompassing diverse restaurants and clubs. Such venues, upholding this distinctive concept, continue to thrive in Kuruçeşme, shaping the vibrant nightlife of Istanbul. Additionally, the area boasts numerous upscale restaurants, as well as fine establishments specializing in both meat and seafood.

Pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants in Kuruçeşme

Aşşk Kahve stands out as the most romantic café in Kuruçeşme, possibly even in all of Istanbul. Nestled along the waterfront, it invites patrons to savor an enchanting panorama of the July 15th Martyrs Bridge, symbolically bridging the two sides like a pair of lovers. This iconic café, a Kuruçeşme classic since its establishment in 1997, occupies the address No 64-3 on Muallim Naci Street. The café offers a diverse menu featuring breakfast, snacks, desserts, main courses, and an array of alcoholic beverages.

La Mancha stands as a sophisticated restaurant in Kuruçeşme, presenting a fusion of Italian and Spanish flavors. Boasting a picturesque view, professional service, and a diverse menu of rich food and beverage options, it provides an elegant dining experience.

Oligark Wine & Dine, along with Oligark Club, offers a superb view and menu throughout the year, with both indoor and outdoor sections situated by the sea. The locale features restaurants and bars with distinct styles. Furthermore, come nighttime, Oligark Lounge Bar comes to life, transforming into one of Istanbul's largest nightclubs.

Novikov is an international restaurant located in Mandarin Oriental Bosphorus. It serves modern Asian and Italian cuisine and has a bar. A spectacular view awaits you on the terrace.

Inari Omakase, situated in Kuruçeşme, stands as the epitome of contemporary Japanese cuisine. Described by the globally recognized Michelin guide as a place where "during the day, it offers a serene setting to savor Japanese classics with a subtle modern Californian twist, while in the evening, it transforms into a lively nightclub with vibrant live DJ performances.

For many years, Divan Kuruçeşme stood out as the most exclusive establishment in the area, embodying the essence of a Bosphorus classic. However, it underwent an extensive restoration, and its historical significance was heightened with the unearthing of Ottoman ruins in its foundations. A visit to the venue reveals a stroll on historical grounds. Now transformed into a sprawling complex, it features restaurants, bistros, bars, and versatile event spaces suitable for gatherings such as meetings and weddings.

Another prominent establishment in Kuruçeşme is The Market at Bosphorus, offering an extensive menu that spans from meat dishes to pizza and pitas. Notably, alcoholic beverages are not available at this venue.

Galium Kuruçeşme presents an array of international cuisine options and transforms into a bar and club atmosphere with DJ performances in the later hours of the night.

Kuruçeşme Kahvesi is a place where you can find anything you can think of such as alcohol, food, hookah, tea, and match broadcasts. It is preferred for its friendly atmosphere and quality service.

Fishermen and taverns in Kuruçeşme

Mavi Balık is a longstanding seafood restaurant situated in Kuruçeşme, renowned for its stunning Bosphorus vistas. The establishment has been serving patrons for numerous years, with its salt-cooked fish gaining particular acclaim.

Park Fora Fish provides a comprehensive array of sea and fish flavors, encompassing a wide range of options from appetizers to lobster and sushi.

Kuruçeşme Balık is a sophisticated three-level establishment, blending the charm of a tavern with that of a restaurant. Despite being situated along a street, it boasts a splendid view. With over three decades of experience, the restaurant has cultivated a dedicated clientele.

Civarda Kuruçeşme stands out as a contemporary tavern in the locality, offering delightful appetizers, a picturesque view, lively music, and a vibrant atmosphere.

We can also recommend two places for those who like Ocakbaşı.

Mezzênnâ Ocakbaşı is a warm and sympathetic restaurant in the comfort of home in the greenery and Ali Ocakbaşı is located in Oligark. It is located at the seafront and enchants with its great view and flavors.

Of course, there are many other delicious and high quality food and beverage places in Kuruçeşme. We wanted to leave the pleasure of finding and discovering them to you.

Transportation to Kuruçeşme

Kuruçeşme is positioned between Arnavutköy and Ortaköy, and you have the option to easily walk there from these neighborhoods. Alternatively, both Arnavutköy and Ortaköy are accessible by sea. Given that the schedules vary between summer and winter, it is advisable to consult the current timetable at www.sehirhatlari.istanbul.

If you opt for transportation via municipal buses, specifically IETT, you have the choice of taking buses numbered 22, 22 RE, 25 E, 40, 40 T, 42 T that operate along the Bosphorus route. Alternatively, you can utilize Beşiktaş-Etiler minibuses departing from Beşiktaş pier. These minibuses, marked with a yellow color, make stops at Beşiktaş, Ortaköy, Kuruçeşme, Arnavutköy, and Bebek stations before reaching Etiler through Bebek Slope.

For those choosing to travel by private car, you have two options: follow the coastal road from Beşiktaş or descend to the shoreline via Yıldız or Etiler. If you're arriving from the northern part of Istanbul, simply descend to the Bosphorus coast from the closest point and proceed towards Beşiktaş.