Cihangir and Çukurcuma are two neighbourhoods in Istanbul with historical and cultural richness. Apart form being well-known for antiques shops and cafes, the neighbourhoods offer art galleries, museums and traditional Turkish baths (known as hamam). Check out the following list to make sure you get the most out of your trip in Cihangir and Çukurcuma.
Cihangir Mosque is situated in the midst of small houses and buildings in Cihangir, and inspired the name of the district itself. First built in wood in 1559, Cihangir was used to commemorate the son of Süleyman. After a fire in 1874, it was reconstructed in another architecture style and is now made of stone. Despite not being a large mosque, Cihangir Mosque allows you to oversee the magnificent view of the Bosphorus. With its four great pillars and huge arch windows, the mosque is instantly recognisable on the Cihangir skyline.
If you are longing for some stimulation and excitement, MazeUp is just for you! In MazeUp, you will have to play a game of being locked in a room and finding the way out in 60 minutes. In the room, you will find a lot of different objects that provide you with clues to get out of the room. While it has two different stories/settings for you to choose from, you don’t have to worry about the language barrier as the ability to comprehend Turkish is not necessary. Are you ready for this challenge?
Inspired by his famous novel of the same name, the Museum of Innocence was founded by Turkish Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk. A unique museum in concept, it was created at the same time as the novel itself, and follows the lives of the two Istanbul families from the novel and the loves and losses that connect them. Opened in 2012, the museum houses many of the objects that exist in the novel, from the clothes of the characters to their imaginary objects. Don’t worry if you have never read the novel, it is still a fascinating experience to know more about life in Istanbul during late 20th century. The museum catalogue is named ‘The Innocence of Objects’, which features original photos of old Istanbul. Winner of the 2014 European Museum of the Year Award, a visit to this museum really shouldn’t be missed.
Opening hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday – Sunday 10 am – 6 pm, Thursday 10 am – 9 pm
A trip to Turkey won’t be complete without frequenting a hamam (Turkish bath). Ağa hamamı, built in 1454, is a popular Turkish bath in the Beyoglu district and claims to be the oldest hamam still in use in Istanbul. More than just a communal bath, a traditional hamam also includes natural scrubs and deep massages. Ağa hamamı is exceptionally attractive due to its long history and the classical design of the building. Ağa hamamı was originally a private hamam, but has become public after the settlement period. With three high ceiling floors, Ağa hamam assures you have sufficient areas for changing, warming up and bathing. If you want to experience a real, authentic hamam, this is the only place to go.
Galeri Artist Çukurcuma, estabilshed in 1999 by Nadir Erenier, is a leading gallery in the Çukurcuma area that brings together art lovers and artists from all over the world. It provides support for rising artists and embraces the values of bringing people from all walks of life to the gallery, as well as holding multifarious exhibitions. It collects portfolios of both Turkish and overseas artists and houses art work of 100+ foreign artists.
Pavlika is a design store founded in June 2013 that sells only handmade products designed by local designers. These handmade goodies are made only of organic materials such as paper and cotton. Pavlika was established to conserve the handicraft knowledge of Anatolia people that the owner of Pavlika believes had almost been lost. Even if you are not into Anatolian art, Pavlika is still a perfect place for you to buy some handmade products and unique souvenirs.
With a collection of old photos, the complete set of the first editions of his books and his personal belongings, Orhan Kemal Museum is a paradise for Kemal’s fans. It even has a statue of Kemal’s head and displays his room with the furniture he used. Orhan Kemal, famous for being an activist and voicing out political opinion in the 20th century, published a number of books, many of which have been republished in English and other languages. Dedicated to Turkish literature, the museum also explores the lives and works of other Turkish writers, if you are not so interested in only Kemal.
After visiting the dozens of museums and mosques these districts have to offer, there’s no doubt you’re going to be peckish. Don’t worry – 49 Çukurcuma is here to help! Housed in a former art office, this chic and modern eatery specialises in Italian favourites pizza and wine, but by using exclusively local ingredients gives each dish a Turkish twist. The walls are exposed brick lit by warm, soft lighting, and everything from the art around the walls to the comfy leather chairs is available for sale. Pizza not your thing? Then make sure to check out our piece The 10 Best Restaurants in Cihangir & Çukurcuma, Istanbul for more info on the best places to dine.
ARK Kultur is established as a multifunctional arts centre that focuses on projects about contemporary art, design and architecture. Located in Cihangir, ARK Kulture is not merely an ordinary arts centre, but also a place where it reflects the uniqueness and dynamics of Cihangir. With three floors, ARK Kultur houses various exhibitions, stage seminars and video screenings. The historical structure and the cultural atmosphere of the centre explores the mysterious and ever-lasting relationship between culture and art.
If you are an antiques lover, you have to visit Çukurcuma! With dozens of antiques shop offering everything from retro suitcases to classic oil paintings to old bathtubs, you are bound to find the perfect addition to your home. Here are some recommended shops:
A la Turca
A la Turca is home to Ottoman art history, housing a wide range of carpets, textiles and furnitures.