"Dry Fountain"

robert1Midway between Ortaköy and Arnavutöy, Kuruçeşme is another trendy Bosphorus suburb, albeit one which seems strangely unfocused. It's at this point that the Bosphorus starts to  open out and the view across to the Kuleli Military High School at Vaniköy on the Asian shore is enchanting. 

Coming from Ortaköy you will pass a string of nightclubs and then a cluster of restaurants that have been built in completely haphazard fashion. Beyond them there is a small waterside park looking over Suada, an overbuilt islet where you can spend a small fortune in a single evening of eating and entertainment. 

Inland along Kırbaç Sokak several churches stand as a reminder of the area's more cosmopolitan past. Then the road bends round to Arnavutköy with its wonderful, distinctive wooden yalıs (waterside mansions).

The İstanbul Stylites Not so long ago Kuruçeşme was best known as a place where sand and coal were stored. But long before that it made itself the site of a curious historical footnote when two stylite saints, St Simeon the Stylite (sitting 433-60) and St Daniel the Stylite (sitting 460-93), perched on top of pillars overlooking the Bosphorus as an extraordinary act of religious penance.

kuruc1Surp HaçAround Kuruçeşme

If you head inland along Kırbaç Sokak you will pass on the left the large Armenian Church of Surp Haç (Holy Cross), designed in 1881 by Garabet Balyan and standing in a walled enclosure lined with old gravestones. The church is usually open to visitors.

A the top end of the street steps lead up to the small, icon-filled Greek Orthodox Church of Hagios Demetrios, dating back to 1798. The main reason to come here is to walk along the tunnel at the back of the church which leads to an ayazma (sacred spring) that flows down to the church. Over time calcium from the dripping water has coated the wall in cave-like rock formations that have since been covered in graffiti. It's an unexpectedly atmospheric treat. 

kuruc3Hagios DemetriosReturning to the coast road, you can look across at Suada (Water Island) even if you don't want to visit its expensive restaurants and nightclubs. In 1880 Sultan Abdülhamid II gave it to the architect, Sarkis Balyan, as a thank-you for his many designs for the city. Sadly his yalı was later demolished and the island redeveloped until it has become almost invisible beneath the weight of building.

As you walk towards Arnavutköy you will see a lovely yalı still painted in the rusty-red colour that used to be called Ottoman rose. Built for Sultan Mahmud II's gardener in the 1830s it eventually became home to the prominent female archaeologist Halet Çambel who then donated it to Boğazıcı (Bosphorus) University. Sadly, the paintwork is steadily peeling off and the yali seems unused.

Inland from Kuruçeşme is Robert College, a curiously lovely but alien campus that was built in 1871 as the American College for Girls. In 1971 this amalgamated with the boys college in Bebek to form a co-ed establishment that is still operating today. 

Finally, as you walk in to Arnavutköy you may see, peeping up above the wall, a small wooden dome that tops off the Greek Orthodox Church of Ioannes Prodoromos (John the Baptist).

kuruc2Ali Vali EviSleeping

Les Ottomans. Tel: 0212-359 1500

Transport info

Most of the buses running along the Bosphorus from Kabataş and Beşiktaş pass through Kuruçeşme.

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