Istanbul / The Forgotten Fountains

While walking through the streets of Istanbul I began to wonder about its many fountains and why they were in such disrepair. I decided to do some research and this is what I discovered.

During the 16th century, Istanbul’s government began to allow water to be piped into private mansions but this was considered a privilege and required a royal patent. As most homes didn’t have plumbing, people used public fountains as their main water source.

During the Ottoman Empire, fountains were not only a means of providing water but they were also constructed as status symbols by the wealthy and, at the same time, as a symbol of their piety.

Each fountain was inscribed with its benefactor’s name, a verse from the Quran in Arabic script and a poem or proverb. Some were monumental and served a decorative purpose as well as a place to socialise and catch up on local gossip.

When Ottoman architecture started to take on a more Western influence, the fountains became more lavish. Their carvings would include roses, vases full of flowers and plates of fruit set in decorative arches with baroque style eaves. It also became more common to build fountains in commercial squares, mosque complexes and places that offered beautiful views.

Beneath Halic Bridge on the Galata side of the Golden Horn, stands one of the prettiest fountains I have every seen called Azapkapı Fountain. It was constructed between 1731 and 1733 by Kayserili Mustafa Aga. The fountain face is made of marble and it’s decorated with beautiful floral motifs.

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