Another small suburb tucked away on the edges of the Bosphorus is Kurucesme (Kuruçeşme). The name translates as dry fountain, and it is believed to have been named for a 17th century fountain attached to the Tezkireci Osman Efendi Mosque. At one time the area was an industrial zone where coal and sand were stored. These days it is a quiet, leafy suburb that contains a lovely selection of churches in a very small area. My starting point was Kırbaç Street, which like many of the streets in this area immediately rises inland from the coast road. The Surp Harç Ermeni Kilesi is located on the left hand side a way up the street and I was able to walk through the grounds. It is small but imposing stone rectangular church, built in 1881 by a Master Garabet, a member of the talented Balyan family of architects.
A bit further up the road, opposite a small roundabout that looks lost in a large intersection, is Hagio Demetrios.
An Orthodox Armenian Church, it is the original home of the theological college now located on Heyebeliada. The structure I entered was built in 1798 but the janitor suggested the church itself dated back 400 years. It’s quite possible an earlier structure had existed on the same spot.
The church proper is only open for Saturday services, but I was able to visit the small chapel above. Being forbidden to take photographs did not detract from the room filled with Madonna and child paintings, a large triptych and a basin at the base of one wall with two taps where you can fill your cup with water. I ducked through a low door and walked the length of the 40 metre tunnel to the source of the water, the Hagios Sotiros ayazma or Holy Spring. So much water has run down the walls of the tunnel that they have calcified, making it look and feel like being in a natural formed cave.
When I exited the church, I turned right and made my way up the winding steps leading around and behind the church and came out further up the hill. To my left the road was even steeper, so I headed a little way back down to Alayemini Street. Lined with old konak houses this is where I now want to live.
Back down on level ground I continued along the coast road, past glorious old abandoned houses. At the point where Kuruçeşme meets Arnavutköy I came to the Church of Ioannis Prodroos (St John the Baptist). Only visible by standing across the road and waiting for a break in the traffic, the church boasts an unusual round wooden turret. A bell tower stands separately to one side of the building.
I ended my walk by looking over at the famous Galatsaray Island, musing that my seat on the water’s edge will most likely be the closest I ever get to it.
If you enjoyed this post, check out my new category “Discover Istanbul” (see drop down Category menu on the right hand side towards the top of this page). I’m sure it’ll inspire to you to go exploring!