Sultanahmet Jail

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Main entrance of the hotel (former Sultanahmet Jail)

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 Fatih district on the historical peninsula.

The interior of the Four Seasons Sultanahmet


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).[1] It is a four-story building with guard towers enclosing a courtyard.[2]

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.[3] Later during the military rule, the building continued to be used as a military jailhouse.

Notable inmates[edit]

Sultanahmet Jail served mostly as a prison reserved for writers, journalists, artists as intellectual dissidents sentenced.[4][5][6]

Conversion into hotel[edit]

In 1992, after a long period of neglect, a redevelopment project was considered to convert the building into a hotel.[10] 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.

In literature[edit]

The jailhouse was mentioned in Graham Greene's 1932 thriller novel Stamboul Train.[11]

The site is featured in the poem "For Nazim Hikmet in the Old Prison, Now a Four Seasons Hotel" by the American poet Myra Shapiro.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "From Sultanahmet Jailhouse to the Best Hotel in Europe:Four Seasons İstanbul" (PDF). Türkiye Seramik Federasyonu Dergisi (13): 84. January–February 2006. [dead link]
  2. ^ Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul - A Luxury Hotel in Istanbul, Turkey
  3. ^ "1969 Yılının Önemli Olayları". Nüve Forum (in Turkish). 
  4. ^ "İstanbul Sultanahmet Cezaevi". Istanbul Connection (in Turkish). June 2004. 
  5. ^ Başlangıç, Celal (1999-07-17). "Yarına kaç var Rıfat Hocam?". Radikal. 
  6. ^ "Sultanahmet ve Aziz Nesin" (in Turkish). Yeni Çağ Gazetesi. Archived from the original on 2008-03-10. 
  7. ^ Engin Esen (2004-05-07). "1972'den 2004'e Denizler'in Yolunda...". Emeğin Partisi (in Turkish). Archived from the original on 2008-03-10. 
  8. ^ "Nazim Hikmet-Evlilik, mahkemeler, cezaevleri, açlık grevleri". Sosyal Demokrasi Vakfı (in Turkish). Archived from the original on 2008-03-10. 
  9. ^ Gürsel, Nedim (1976-07-17). "Nazım Hikmet'in Kıyamet Sureleri". Birikim Dergisi (in Turkish) (17): 11–13. 
  10. ^ "Bakanlık eliyle kültür, tarih katliamı". DernekTürk (in Turkish). Archived from the original on 2008-03-10. 
  11. ^ "Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul". Tablet Hotels. 
  12. ^ The Best American Poetry 2003

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°0′23″N 28°58′48″E / 41.00639°N 28.98000°E / 41.00639; 28.98000