Çukurcuma is a neighborhood in Istanbul famous for housing a maze of galleries and antique and vintage shops along its colorful cobblestone streets. The graceful but decaying streets filled with early 20th century buildings that give the Çukurcuma district a nostalgic atmosphere are slowly getting face lift
Once being home to a large Greek community, Çukurcuma has managed to keep harmony between its original flea market charm and newfound respectability with funky antique shops overflowing with Ottoman-era knickknacks next to contemporary galleries and designer boutiques. Çukurcuma, hosting over 150 antique shops, is a less touristy version of the Grand Bazaar selling antiques and extraordinary items, from the quaint and quirky to the refined and well designed, you cannot find anywhere else in the world. When taking a stroll down Çukurcuma and roaming the streets (and maybe even getting lost), make sure you check out these shops for some invaluable finds!
A La Turca
A La Turca , a chic and sophisticated antique four-story home transformed into an antique shop is on Çukurcuma's must visit list. Owned by Erkal Aksoy, an antique enthusiast, A La Turca features an exclusive collection of antique carpets and kilims from Anatolia, Ottoman embroidery textiles, kaftans, pillows, pottery, ceramics, frames, pieces of furniture, accessories and more. The home like atmosphere makes the customers, or in this case guests, feel right at home when searching though the piles of antique goodies while having a long conversation with the owner or shop keeper about the history of the knickknacks.
Address: Faik Paşa Yokuşu No. 4/ Çukurcuma
Modern Tarih Showroom
With its exotic flair and wonderful art pieces from as far afield as China, Russia, Africa and Mongolia, Modern Tarih has antiques which are over 200 years old. You can smell the history of all the tapestries, carved wooden doors, stone gates and regal statues the minute you walk into the store. Rather than a simple amassing of collectables you might find in similar shops, Modern Tarih is lit and arranged thoughtfully making the space feel like a museum more than a store.
Address: Kuloğlu Mahallesi Faik Paşa Caddesi No.19/ Çukurcuma
Set up in an old house in the Çukurcuma district, Karadeniz Antik has a wide collection of antique statues that pour out to the front garden and the sides of the house. With a respectable collection of paintings, cameras and other collectibles from the Anatolian peninsula and Europe reaching back as far as 100 years, Karadeniz Antik is sure to please the antique enthusiast. Having been open since 1976, Karadeniz Antik also goes into the certification process with foreign and domestic antiques.
Address: Firuzağa Mahallesi Çukurcuma Caddesi No: 55/ Çukurcuma
Specializing in antique maps, engravings and toy soldiers, Galeri Alfa distinguishes itself from other antique shops in Çukurcuma. As a matter of fact, Galeri Alfa is the only place where you can find a collection of lead alloy toy soldier sets of the Ottoman Royal Army and the Janissary corps, each piece hand painted with historically accurate costumes. This is the perfect place for children and sophisticated collectors.
Address: Faikpaşa Yokuşu No. 43/2 / Çukurcuma
Opened in 1990, Şamdan Antique focuses on European pieces from the 1930s to the 1970s with a selection of furniture, lighting, ceramics, statues and mirrors. A range of traditional items such as china, glassware and pieces of ornamental calligraphy are also available at Şamdan Antique.
Specializing in a more traditional style of decor is the namesake store of Hakan Ezer, a decorator who has decorated the homes of the most prominent Istanbul elites over the years. While a lot of Turkish contemporary art can be found in the showroom, the antique feel is intact in the 15th century Chinese artifacts and Ottoman era statues. The Çukurcuma showroom features paintings by some well-known contemporary Turkish artists, including Volkan Diyaroğlu, Selma Gürbüz, and Fikret Mualla.
Address: Faik Paşa Caddesi No.5/ Çukurcuma
Fixer Uper Shops
If you have antiques that need repairing or a coat of varnish, these are the places to go.
All types of antique porcelain and ceramics that have undergone damage are restored to their original state.
The varnish and shellac repair of wooden antique furniture as well as repairs to mother of pearl inlays are performed here to restore items to their glossy perfection.
Celal Bey deals with the restoration and maintenance of antique gold leaf frames and mirrors, which are made brand new in the basement atelier. Antik Varak also has a location in Cihangir if you don't want to cross to the Asian side.
If your porcelain had the misfortune of being broken or cracked, this repair shop will put it back together again as if new.
Specializing in shellac repair and wood varnishing as well as mother-of-pearl repairs to make the old new again.
Grab a bite to eat
Here are a couple of places you can grab a bite to eat after wondering about the antique shops in Çukurcuma.
For a traditional Turkish fare, stop by the cozy Çukurcuma Köftecisi where a classic combo of köfte (grilled meatballs) and piyaz (white bean salad) will set you back about TL 9 ($3.30).
For dessert, pop into Kiki Çay Evi, a tea shop that symbolizes Çukurcuma better than anywhere else. The converted ground floor of an old antique store has provides ample setting for local bohemian chin waggers.
For a more stylish bite, wander over to Cezayir, a restaurant housed in a 120-year-old Italian school house where the old and new Istanbul seems to overlap. Serving clever updates of classic Turkish dishes like ceviche made from Black Sea anchovies and fava bean puree flavored with anise liquor.
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