Istanbul Sosyal Tesisleri: Council Run Social Facilities

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Do you know where you can enjoy places like this in Istanbul?

Where ever I’ve lived in Turkey (so far Istanbul, Kayseri and also Antalya for a while), there have been sosyal tesisleri. Roughly translating as social facilities, they’re designed to add value to the social life of the residents of the towns and cities where they’re located. Istanbul has many such places, providing green areas, hiking and sight-seeing trails, children’s parks and anything from basic canteen style cafés to restaurants serving full a la carte menus. What they all have in common are reasonable prices and the chance of enjoy yourself in gorgeous locations and historical buildings.

I recently went to one of the sosyal tesisleri run by Istanbul Buyuksehir Belediye, set in Fethipaşa Korusu near Kuzguncuk. Entering from the top of the park, in easy walking distance of the Fistikağaç metro stop, a series of paths gently crisscross down a steep slope. As you descend all you can hear are the sounds of birds chirping, and we were lucky enough to see a colourful kingfisher sitting in a tree.

This being Istanbul of course there was a cat in the park.

A café and a separate full restaurant are nestled at the base of this huge grove of trees cascading down the hillside to the shores of the Bosphorus. The canteen-like café offers basic foods like wraps, hamburgers and simits, as well as a typical Turkish breakfast. What makes it so appealing to me, apart from the wonderful views, is the fact that the large decking area covered in wisteria is completely non-smoking, and they mean it. There’s a smaller area for smokers one floor up, if you must. A buffet breakfast is available for a fixed price on weekends.

Just back from the café, a restaurant fans out from a restored konak house. Tables are arranged on three separate terraces, also all non-smoking. The menu is typically Turkish and well-priced.

Dine like a sultan at reasonable prices!
Al fresco dining, without cigarette smoke - wonderful!

Find out the full back story of this grove and how to get there and other lesser visited sites around the city in my alternative guide Istanbul 50 Unsung Places.

There’s a full list of council run sosyal tesisleri listed here.  The details are only available in Turkish but the addresses are easy to understand. I’ve been to a number of these facilities so far and have thoroughly enjoyed myself, although the food and drink offerings at some are better than others. However, to borrow from the well-known Mastercard ad, being able to sit in an Ottoman konak, looking out over the fast running water of the Bosphorus for the cost of a glass of tea – priceless.

The entry at the top of the koru is a short walk from Fisitkağaç Metro stop. Alternatively catch a dolmuş or any of the buses in the number 15 series from Uskudar. Get off at the Paşalimanı stop and walk up to the lower entrance. The park is open 24 hours, seven days a week.

Make the most of your time in Istanbul by pre-booking a value-packed tour or activity.

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    1. I’m glad you like this post. I hope you can come to Istanbul in the not to distant future when the state of the world’s health improves but for now we’ll all have to be patient. Easier said than done, I know!

  1. How nice to read such a positive piece on Turkey. I never knew about these places, I suppose as a tourist they wouldn’t have been on my radar, so it’s nice to know about them now.

    1. I’m pleased you like this post. There is so much to discover in Istanbul and most tourist websites don’t even scratch the surface. Feel free to share my post and encourage people to follow my blog

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