My visit to the flower passage in Istanbul was unexpected but it turned out to be one of my favourite places. Two friends, now used to my obsession with photography and history suggested it as an ideal place to have lunch. Situated on Istiklal Avenue, and known to the Turks as Çiçek Pasaj, it is a place to eat, drink, and be merry.
Therefore, you may think I recommend Çiçek Pasaj as a great watering hole. Well, I will not because our meal was cold, while the service was awful. We picked the wrong restaurant.
What did intrigue me though? The architecture was unlike any other building I had seen in Istanbul and in a straight row on the first level, was old picture portraits of characteristic people.
My interest had spiked and I took to the internet to find out more. I still have one question left though and I wonder if readers can help me.
Flower Passage – From a Theatre to Restaurants
Flower passage originally started life as a theatre in the 1800’s, then converted into rows of posh shops after a fire. During the Russian revolution of 1917, people fleeing Russia often came to Istanbul and they acquired the new shops, to sell flowers, hence the new name of flower passage or Çiçek Pasaj in Turkish.
By the 1960s, the shops became traditional Turkish Meyhanes and were a favourite for workers who wanted to be jolly and spend all their hard earned money on booze. Over time, the building lost its charm until renovation in the 1990’s made it the place to be seen on Istiklal avenue.
My Question – Who are the people in the portraits?
I really do not know. Despite spending hours researching the internet and asking numerous people, I have no answer. This is when I start to think that I am some kind of freak, as no one seems to care or be interested apart from me.
Maybe the portraits are just old advertising posters from a nostalgic past. Maybe they are just models who have no connection with Istanbul what so ever.
If it turns out to be just that, then I will be highly disappointed as their faces and smiles captured my attention and made the flower passage of Istiklal Avenue, one of my favourite places
Readers Questions on Çiçek Pasaj
Have you been to Çiçek Pasaj?
Can you shed any light on the portrait posters adorning the walls?