Süleymaniye/Ayrancı Sokak: When speaking of old Ottoman homes, the first area that comes to mind is the area surrounding Süleymaniye. In this neighborhood, where wooden homes have withstood the test of time, it is possible to truly feel that old Ottoman ambiance. Ayrancı Sokak, located in this district, is on the top of our list in terms of places that must be seen. Complete with its cobblestone pavement and pavilions from the 16th century, this street gives a full taste of the old İstanbul. A part of the wooden houses have been restored under the supervision of the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality’s Directorate of Conservation, Restoration, Implementation and Supervision (İBB KUDEB). There is even a nice cafe on the street where you can relax. Sipping your tea while you look at the grey-green view of the Bosporus is sure to take you back in time.
Fatih/At Pazarı: Fatih leads the way in terms of places in İstanbul where you can relive the olden days. One of the metropolis’ oldest residential areas, Fatih is home to the Kadınlar Pazarı and At Pazarı Meydanı, both located near the Bozdağan Aqueduct. This small and quaint square (meydan), where for years horse-trading took place, is now popular due to its cafes and restaurants. On the street where the square is located, there are old homes with bay windows. Eski Kafa is a cafe located in this square that is preferred by intellectuals, literary types and university students.
Tahtakale/Tahmis Sokağı: Tahtakale is a historical district that has maintained its Ottoman fabric with its bazaars and hans. Just as is the case now, İstanbulites could find everything they were looking for in the stores located on the steep streets of Tahtakale. The feeling that Tahmis Sokak gives is truly authentic; you can reach this street located behind the Spice Bazaar by following the scent of coffee. “Tahmis” means a place where coffee is prepared and sold. The Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi coffee store, which is legendary, is located on this street. Here you can also find freshly roasted coffee that has been ground with large mortars, which is how the store received the name of Kurukahveci (meaning dry coffee vendor). Mehmet Efendi’s trade continues well today. It is quite possible to see a line of people waiting in front of the store at any time of the day.
Zeyrek/Fil Yokuşu: Zeyrek is a neighborhood that has partially maintained its traditional architecture. Most of the wooden homes were built between the years 1800 and 1840. One of Zeyrek’s features is its slopes. The most important of these slopes is Fil Yokuşu. On the street that curls up over the Byzantine Cistern is one of İstanbul’s steepest slopes. The wooden building on the street is breath-taking. Right after this slope, you will find the tomb of Mehmet Emin Tokadi, an Islamic thinker. Across from the tomb you may stop by the Zeyrekhane, where you can drink your coffee and tea with an exquisite view of İstanbul.
Bileyiciler Sokağı in Divan Yolu: Divan Yolu is a place where the old and new are intertwined. The mosques, madrasahs, tombs and sebils (public fountains) that are located on both sides of the street are some of the best examples of Ottoman architecture. The street is an opportunity to travel back in time. The street named Bileyiciler Sokağı also attracts attention for its historical essence. It is located between the Çorlulu Ali Paşa Külliye (social complex) and the Sadrazam Sinan Paşa Külliye on Divan Yolu. It was named Bileyiciler Sokağı, which means Knife Grinders Street, because knife grinders used to do business in that area.
Merdivenli Yokuşu in Balat: Balat has become a popular place in recent years. Balat is known for its homes, which despite the damage they have suffered over the years, have maintained their Ottoman architectural form. The homes in Balat have all the features of typical old homes in İstanbul. They are connected two or three-floored masonry homes that have projecting oriel windows and a floor space of 45 and 50 square meters. Home that are still standing are undergoing restoration. The Merdivenli Yokuş is one of the most fascinating streets with two and three-floor masonry homes lined up next to each other along the street. There used to be a Greek Cypriot community in this neighborhood.
Arpacı Hayrettin Sokağı in Eyüp: Eyüp has always been a center of attraction due to its spiritual ambiance. Eyüp is a residential area that witnessed the earliest years of the Ottoman Empire and has managed to preserve its historical texture, albeit partially. The street named Arpacı Hayrettin Sokağı is a historical street in Eyüp. The street, which leads to Abdurrahman Şeref Bey Caddesi, gets its name from Arpacı Hayrettin Efendi, who is buried in the cemetery of an old mosque on the same street.
Soğukçeşme Sokak in Sultanahmet: Sultanahmet is a world-renowned neighborhood. With the presence of historical structures such as Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Basilica Cistern, Topkapı Palace and the Obelisk, Sultanahmet is like an outdoor museum. In Sultanahmet, which hosts monumental structures, there is one street in particular that is worth seeing. That street is Soğukçeşme Sokağı. On one side of the street there is Hagia Sophia and on the other side there are the exterior walls of Topkapı Palace. The street, which has a row of restored old wooden homes, is closed to vehicular traffic. The homes have projecting oriel windows and either two floors or three floors. Among the homes that were turned into hostels after undergoing restoration are small shops. The home where Fahri Korutürk lived when he was a child and the İstanbul Library are also located in this area. Anyone who wants to experience the graceful ambiance of old Ottoman streets should walk along this street.
Sanatkârlar Sokağı in Tophane: The street has a broad view of İstanbul. It is located across from the Nusretiye Mosque and has worn wooden homes.
Tepedelen Çeşmesi Sokağı in Cibali: Located in the Cibali neighborhood, the street named Tepedelen Çeşmesi Sokağı is one of the most important residential areas to find homes in an authentic architectural style. There are also modest wooden homes on the street.