If antiques are your thing then one of the best places to head for is Çukurcuma, the trendy area squeezed in between Cihangir and Galatasaray that is full of shops selling everything from bric-a-brac costing pennies to antiques that you’ll need to take out a mortgage to buy. The back streets are lined with a wild mix of fine 19th-century apartment blocks, crumbling wooden houses and avant-garde architecutral fancies. It’s also home to a number of fashionable cafes.

Çukurcuma sells a crazy mix of real antiques and outright junk

For non-antique-lovers the main reason to venture into Çukurcuma will be to visit Orhan Pamuk’s much-commented Museum of Innocence, as much a conceptual artwork as a museum in the conventional sense of the world.

Around Çukurcuma

If you approach Çukurcuma from behind Cihangir’s Firuz Ağa Cami you will find yourself walking along Ağa Hamam Sokak named after the Ağa Hamam, a seemingly fairly new building that, behind the 19th-century facade, dates back to 1562.

The street is increasingly inviting, with more and more shops and cafes. To find the older antique shops, however, you need to turn left downhill along Altı Patlar Sokağı. AltI Patlar bears left and comes to a cross roads. Turn left and you can circle round and back to Cihangir. Turn right and you’ll come to Faikpaşa Caddesi and yet more inviting antique shops. This street ends at a T-junction. Turn right to make your way up to Galatasaray, passing the Cezayir restaurant housed in a 19th-century schoolhouse.

If, instead, you walk straight ahead from Altı Patlar Sokağı, passing the Çukurcuma Cami, a 19th-century rebuild on the site of a Sinan mosque, you will find yourself heading downhill along Çukurcuma Caddesi where some of the shops offer slightly cheaper items. It’s here, too, that you’ll find Orhan Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence (Closed Mondays, admission TL300, free to holders of ticket from back of novel). The museum forms a partner piece for the book of the same name and shows off items associated with the story in vitrines; only on the top floor where some of the original pages from the manuscript of the book are on display does it feel like a  normal museum. Will you enjoy it if you haven’t read the book? My feeling is probably not although others may disagree.

Ağa Hamam Sokak eventually turns into Turnacabaşı Caddesi which runs all the way up to İstiklal Caddesi, passing the Galatasaray Hamam and the Zographeion, once a school for Greek children, its facade pleasingly decorated with two carved griffins. Designed by Perikles Fotiades, it opened in 1893 and was named after Christakis Zografos, its biggest benefactor. Patriarch Bartholomew I, the current patriarch,  was a pupil here. The school is still in operation although with very few pupils.

Splendid entrance hall of derelict Greek school on Maç Sokak

Many people approach Çukurcuma from Sıraselviler Caddesi which suffers from narrow pavements and heavy traffic. Near the Taksim end you can instead cut down Maç Sokak which will take you directly to Turnacabaşı Caddesi. As you walk down look out on the left for a particularly battered derelict building which was once a Greek school. Despite its external appearance it turns out to have a thoroughly grand interior, visible occasionally during temporary art exhibitions.

Eating and drinking

Cuma on Çukurcuma Caddesi is a popular restaurant upstairs in and old building across from Çukurcuma Cami. It serves up Modern European with a Turkish twist. Excellent if somewhat pricy.

Mondo Nuevo on Ağa Hamam Sokak is a coffee shop run by a Colombia coffee importer which has themed itself on a prison but simultaneously operates as an unofficial cat cafe. Prices are reasonable and the soup usually pretty good.

Vasalisa on Hüseyinağa Bahçe Sokak is a rare cafe in the area with a garden which makes it particularly appealing in summer. Prices are a tad on the high side but it’s the sort of place where you’ll end up wanting to linger.

Fransiz Sokağı (AKA Cezayir Sokağı) is a bit of a novelty, a stepped street lined with restaurants which are not more distinctly French (or Algerian) than any others in the vicinity.


Hayriye Caddesi links Faik Paşa Caddesi to Yeni Çarşi Sokak. During the day it’s a conventional if traffic-blighted street but as soon as darkness falls it turns into something of a street-party area, with young locals gathering to sit on the steps on the right-hand side of the road while music blares from the cafes on the left.


Hamamhane In amongst the antique shops on Çukurcuma Caddesi this excellent hotel offers colourful modern rooms with plenty of mod cons. There’s a pleasant ground-floor dining room alongside a breakfast room which spills out onto the terrace in summer. Part of the hotel complex is a hamam dating back to the 1830s when the wife of Sultan Abdülhamid I, Nakşidil Kadın, brought water to this area (mixed bathing). The hotel also operates a tapas bar on its other side looking onto Faik Paşa Caddesi.  Tel: 0530-844 2191

Hotel Corinne

Transport info

Çukurcuma has no public transport links although it’s only a short walk from Firuz Ağa Cami in Cihangir or from the Galatasaray Hamam.

Nearby areas



İstiklal Caddesi

Taksim Square






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