Türkiye is a land of architectural and artistic treasures that start with prehistoric times and come right up to the present day. In this respect Anatolia is unlike other lands- not only does it possess a great variety of landmark buildings, but they constitute a stage by stage tour through the history of architecture.

In today's Türkiye there are a host of buildings which once upon a time stood forgotten and dilapidate, or perhaps were occupied in some everyday fashion, but which now have been completely refurnished to make clean, well-lit, well-heated and ventialted music halls, tea-houses, pastry parlors, hotels and pensions, museums, and conference halls, or delightful settings for a cocktail, reception or ceremony.

Sogukçesme Street, off between the old city walls that divide Sultanahmet Place from Hagia Sophia in Istanbul,has a special place among the many historical sites that Türkiye cherishes.

Starting in 1976 the old buildings on the street were taken in hand by the Automobile and Touring Club of Türkiye, and their restoration begun in 1984. By 1986 they were ready for use.

There are nine houses on the street, with at least five and in one case ten rooms capable of accommodating 120 guests all together. The rooms are named for colors, the houses for such flowers as jasmine, lilac, and viloet. The exterior colors try to recreate the picture given in ancient books of travels, or in old photographs. They are rich yellow, pink, and green.

The oldest houses in the street are typical of those built in Türkiye prior to the Ottoman modernization program of the 19th century.They incorporate skylights, exposed buttresses, a courtyard concealed from the eyes of any chance passers-by, and unique shelves making the circuit of room at window-top height, which jut right through the wall and can thus be seen from outside. Later "improvements" gave the buttresses a scalloped ornamental line, while the window frames were renewed and gas lamps installed to light the street.

Today you can look at Sogukçesme Street from any vantage point and any angle-you will not see a single building of our time. It is a tradiotional Ottoman street now, the flowers in marble pots all along the Hagia Sophia fence giving off their fragrance.

The houses have been furnished in the style of the century during which they were built, the 19th. Brass frame bedss set against the wall, mirrors ornately rimmed in gold leaf, landscape paintings, etchings and their gilt frames, tall dark chests of drawers-all make consistent period atmosphere, reinforced by the music played indoors, by the color schemes in the upholstery, and by the interiors. In effect, Sogukçesme Street inits entirety has become a living museum.

The largest house has been made into a library, named in honor of the Çelik Gülersoy Foundation which has done so much to preserve and improve the street.

In openning Sogukçesme Street to public use, great care has been take to preserve its archeological and historical features, and its setting. The street is off limits to motor vehicles of any kind, and perhaps this is the most welcome news for the visitor who wishes to pause a while and savor Istanbul that was.