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The Blooming History of the Flower Passage

Updated: Nov 25, 2023

In a survey prepared by the Beyoğlu Beautification Association “What is the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to Beyoğlu?” was asked and most of the people answered the question as “Çiçek Pasajı”. The Flower Passage (Çiçek Pasajı), formerly known as Cité de Péra, is a historic passage, arcade and shopping center containing different types of shops from cafes to restaurants to even winehouses. It is situated at the place connecting two major streets: Istiklal Avenue and Sahne Street and is called the most decorated building in Beyoğlu. This three story building rightfully earned that title with its detailed glass roof, colorful tiles, stained glass windows and the lion and human heads located on the top floor. The building is art in itself. This beautifully constructed architectural structure went through a lot of changes to this day but the only thing that didn’t change is that there were always locals or tourists who visited the passage.

The site of the historical Flower Passage was first occupied by Naum Theater which was the scene of many plays, concerts and operas also hosting Sultan Abdulhamit and Sultan Abdulaziz during the Tanzimat period. Verdi’s “Il Trovatore'' played in this theater before it was shown in Paris, and it has become one of the most important cultural centers of Istanbul and Europe thanks to the Italian operas staged. Sadly, a big fire broke out in Beyoğlu and caused the theater to burn down. It was one of the reconstructed buildings in the district after the fire. After the fire in 1870, the theater was purchased by one of the richest people at the time, Hristaki Zografos and the current building was designed by architect Kleanthis Zannos. The building’s construction had finished in 1876 and the name was changed to Cité de Péra.

When the ownership of the building was transferred to Grand Vizier Sait Pasha in 1908, the passage took the name “Sait Pasha Passage”. The passage today doesn’t have anything to do with flowers so why is it named the Flower Passage? The naming of this place dates back to the early 1940’s when Russian women used to sell flowers here. After a while, the passage started to get used as a flower auction area. All the florists in Beyoğlu were gathering in the passage and the name was turned into the “Florists Passage”.

After 1940, the pubs started to take up a lot of space in the passage. As a consequence, it gradually moved apartment owners and florists to other places. The name “Flower” stayed. The first tavern ever opened in the passage was by Yorgo Efendi and it still remains to this day. In the following period, the tavern was restored with the help of the Beautification and Survival Association of the Flower Passage. After the restoration in 1988, the tavern was reopened in December 2005. All visual elements from the roof to every tile were restored to create a bright, spacious and pleasant environment in the passage.

The Flower Passage still keeps its beauty today with its blooming history and beautiful structure that has details hidden all around it. It is a must-see when in Istanbul whether you’re interested in its history or you want to try all the delicious food the passage has to offer or you’re just looking for a good time with your loved ones. The passage provides you with everything you may need and more to have a marvelous time.

Works Cited:

Tarihi Çiçek Pasajı, Accessed 15 Nov. 2023

Flower Passage - Istanbul, Accessed 13 Nov. 2023

Wikipedia, Çiçek Pasajı, Accessed 15 Nov. 2023

Turkish Travel Blog, Flower Passage, Accessed 13 Nov. 2023

Türkiye Travel Planner, Çiçek Pasajı, Accessed 13 Nov. 2023

Gezilmesi Gereken Yerler, Çiçek Pasajı, Accessed 14 Nov. 2023

Vikipedi, Çiçek Pasajı, Accessed 14 Nov. 2023


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