Sultanahmet Jail (Turkish: Sultanahmet Cezaevi), a former prison in Istanbul, Turkey, is now the luxury Four Seasons Hotel at Sultanahmet. It is located in Sultanahmet neighborhood of Eminönü district on the historical peninsula.
Built in 1918/1919, it was the first jailhouse in the capital of the Ottoman Empire, constructed in a contemporary concept considering the regulation of the daily life and relationship with the outside of inmates, who were awaiting trial or serving brief sentences. The building was designed in Turkish neoclassical style in the beginning of the period called "First National Architecture". It was built next to the courthouse building, which was constructed in 1845 initially as university (Ottoman Turkish: Darülfünun). An inscription in Ottoman language upon the main gate of the building states the name of the facility as the "Capital City Murder Jail" (Ottoman Turkish: Dersaadet Cinayet Tevkifhanesi). It is a four-story building with guard towers enclosing a courtyard.
In the jailhouse, juveniles and women were also detained. Following the establishment of the Sağmalcılar Prison, the inmates were transferred to the new site and the jail was abandoned on January 25, 1969. Later during the military rule, the building continued to be used as a military jailhouse.
- Mihri Belli (1916–2011) communist leader,
- Deniz Gezmiş (1947–1972) militant,
- Nazım Hikmet (1901–1963) poet, in 1938/1939 and later in 1950 again.
- Rıfat Ilgaz (1911–1993) lecturer and writer,
- Orhan Kemal (1914–1970) novelist,
- Hikmet Kıvılcımlı (1902–1971) communist leader,
- Aziz Nesin (1915–1995) humorist,
- Kemal Tahir (1910–1973) novelists,
- Vedat Türkali (1919) screenwriter.
Conversion into hotel
In 1992, after a long period of neglect, a redevelopment project was considered to convert the building into a hotel. The jailhouse, having great significance in terms of history of art and architecture, was renovated and opened in 1996 as a deluxe hotel of the Toronto-based Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts chain.
The site was featured also in the poem "For Nazim Hikmet in the Old Prison, Now a Four Seasons Hotel" by the American poet Myra Shapiro.
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