Just a stone’s throw from the Blue Mosque and down the street from the slightly overwhelming experience of the Byzantine Palace Mosaic Museum, you’ll find a handful of traditional Ottoman wooden houses, called konaks. Many of them are falling apart but some have been preserved or lovingly restored and each of them hides treasures that only those fortunate enough to enter them will have the luxury to enjoy.
One such residence composed of two houses and split by a soothing mosaic courtyard was the home of an Ottoman General by the name of Cemal who was fascinated by the Byzantine cisterns which ran beneath the city and opened up access through his own cellar. Cemal’s cistern runs from the sea to the Basilica Cistern which holds the head of the Medusa and is still visible through a glass floor (the cistern not the Medusa’s head).
On my last visit, I broke with my own routine and decided to stay at a different hotel. The hotel that now exists in the konak of General Cemal – Erten Konak. It was actually pretty nice to stay somewhere else and the Erten Konak was a good choice. A special class 3-star hotel with reasonable rates and nice amenities. The staff was friendly and professional, breakfast was simple but good, and the room was comfortable but richly appointed with over the top Ottoman gilded furniture and accessories. AC for the hot days and a high def television for the evenings plus a recently remodeled bathroom and a lovely shower with three different settings.
The house is filled with the unique collections of the owners – painted glass from the Ottoman, hats from all over the world arranged in floral displays, and more. This was a pleasant stay and I gladly recommend that you check out Erten Konak if you want to live like an Ottoman for a few days while you are in Istanbul.