Çiçek Pasajı


Back when promenading down the Grand Rue de Pera (now İstiklal Caddesi) was the height of fashion, the Cité de Pera building was İstanbul's most glamorous address. Built in 1876 and decorated in Second Empire style, it housed a shopping arcade and apartments. The arcade is now known as the Çiçek Pasajı and is full of meyhanes (taverns) serving mediocre food.

As Pera declined in the mid-20th century, so too did this building. Its once-stylish shops gave way to rough meyhanes where beer barrels were rolled out onto the pavement, marble slabs were balanced on top, wooden stools were arranged and enthusiastic revellers caroused the night away. It continued in this vein until the late 1970s, when parts of the building collapsed. When it was reconstructed, the arcade acquired a glass canopy to protect pedestrians from bad weather, its makeshift barrels and stools were replaced with solid wooden tables and benches, and its broken pavement was covered with smooth tiles. These days its raffish charm is nearly gone and most locals bypass the touts and the mediocre food on offer and instead make their way behind the passage to the bars and meyhanes on or around Nevizade Sokak.

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