Fountains in Ottoman İstanbul

Fountains in Ottoman İstanbul

Examples from İstanbul Fountains


The earliest known waterworks ın İstanbul date from Roman times. The Romans attached great importance to the water supply of their cities, and established an extensive water system in İstanbul (the ancient Byzantium which was later called Constantinople after Constantine the Great). Like the civilisations before them they built conduits for supplying watter to the tall monumental fountains known as nymphaeum decorated with columns and statuary, to public baths, houses and palaces. In his ten-volume De Architectura describing the buildings and construction techniques of Roman period architecture, Vitruvius discusses water structures (aqueducts, wells, cisterns and water levels) in Book VIII, and hydraulic machines (water clocks, water organs, water wheels, water screws and the pump designed by Ctesibius) in Volumes IX and X. Here we find descriptions of Roman period water distribution tanks, water channels, and intermediate reservoirs.

During the Roman period, water channelled from distant springs to the city was collected in reservoirs and distribution tanks built on hilltop sites, and from there piped in different directions to cisterns, houses and public fountains. In their book on the Byzantine water structures of İstanbul, Die Byzantinischen Wasserbehalter von Konstantinopel (1893), Strzgowski and Forchheimer tell us that water from dams in the Belgrad Forest was carried by pipes to the district of Eğrikapı at the northern edge of the city, crossing the valleys formed by the two streams which flowed into the Golden Horn via aqueducts. From here three mains lines carried the water to tanks in the districts of Atpazarı, Yenibahçe and Ayasofya for distribution to the rest of the city.

Roman Period Waterworks

In order to maintain a fixed water level, covered water channels were carried over valleys by aqueducts, which are arched structures in the form of bridges. Roman period aqueducts dating from the fourth century and which are still standing -at least in part-today in İstanbul are the Valens (Bozdoğan) built in 368, the Ma'zulkemer, Karakemer, and Turunçluk aqueducts.

Water levels
Nothing precise is known about the form and interior mechanism of Roman period water levels which were part of the water distribution system. In the Ottoman period these were tower-like structures known as su terazisi serving to adjust water pressure and also measure water for distribution purposes. In Book VIII of his De Architectura Vitruvius discusses the water structures of Rome in the fifth section entitled 'Levelling and Levelling Methods' and describes methods of conducting water 'to dwellings and cities'. Vitruvius explains, 'First comes the method of taking the level. Levellings is done either with dioptrae, or with water levels, or with the chorobates,' going on the say that the chorobates is the most accurate method. "the chorobates is a straightedge about twenty feet long. At the extremities it has legs, made exactly alike and jointed on perpendicularly to the extremities of the straightedge, and also crosspieces fastened by tenons, connecting the straightedge and the legs. These crosspieces have vertical lines drawn upon them, and there are plumblines hanging form the straightedge over each of the lines." However he gives no description of the water levels.

Distribution chambers
These were structures which measured and distributed incoming water. In Book VIII of De Architectura, Vitruvius writes that inside the city the water poured into a reservoir with a connecting distribution chamber with three contiguous tanks. Water from the reservoir was conveyed into each tank via three separete pipes. Water from the central tank was piped to all the pools and fıountains in the city, water from one of the side tanks to the public baths, and from the other side tank to private houses. In his doctoral dissertation entitled. "The Architecture of Water Structures in Byzantine period İstanbul" (1989), which is the most detailed source of information about Roman period distribution chambers, Özkan Ertuğrul tells us that during the Byzantine period (the Eastern Roman Empire, successor to the Roman Empire), water was distributed to the city from five distribution chambers known as Nymphaeum Maximum, Tezgahçılar Kubbesi, Balıklı, Sultanahmet and Valens.

Water channels
Open or covered conduits carried water between the reservoirs and cisterns, and from there to public fountains and houses. They also served as overflow spills for the cisterns. It has been possible to identify twenty-three of these conduits today. Conduits were made variously of masonry, lead or baked clay, but Vitruvius comments that baked clay pipes are to be preferred. He also explains that the channel bed should have a gradient of at least one quarter inch for each hundred feet.

Reservoirs, Wells and Cisterns
Vitruvius explains that in the absence of springs whose water may be transferable by aqueducts, it is necessary either to dig wells or to collect surface water in cisterns. He describes cisterns having two or three sections in which the water was cleaned by means of pouring from one section to another. These cisterns thus served a second function as precipitation tanks, which during Ottoman times were separate structures in which the water rested. An example of an ancient well of the type described by Vitruvius is Dolab Ocağı in the First Courtyard at Topkapı Palace which is entered via the Second Courtyard. The construction techniques of this large well in which all water for the palace was stored for distribution is characteristic of the Roman period. In Ottoman times a cistern was added to this well. Of the seven pre-Ottoman wells discovered in İstanbul five date from the pre-Byzantine period (Dolap Ocağı in the First Courtyard at Topkapı Palace, and four others located respectively next to the cistern in the Second Courtyard at Topkapı Palace, next to the Fil Gate in the Fifth Courtyard at Topkapı Palace, in the centre of the semicircular courtyard of Haghia Maria Hodigitria Baptistry in the Manganlar area, and in the courtyard of the Ottoman Mint), and two from the Byzantine period (beneath the arcade in front of the first gate leading to the kitchens in the Second Courtyard at Topkapı Palace, and in front of arcade of Topkapı Palace Kitchens).

Another Roman water structure related to wells is the cistern, the oldest surviving examples of which date from the Byzantine era, which succeeded the Roman.

In Part VI of Book VIII of his De Architectura, which is entitled 'Aqueducts, Wells and Cisterns', Vitruvius says of cisterns: 'If the ground is hard or if the veins lie too deep, the water supply must be obtained from roofs or higher ground, and collected in cisterns of "signinum work".' From his description of the materials used to make signium, it is clear that this formed an insulating layer for the interior surface of thi cistern.

It is also evident that the purpose of this insulation was to improve the taste end translucency of the water, as we see from his account: 'If such constructions are in two compartments or in three so as to ensure clearing by changing from one to another, they will make the water much more wholesome and sweeter to use. For it will become more limpid, and keep its taste without any smell, if the mud has somewhere to settle; otherwise it will be necessary to clear it by adding salt.'

These explanations demonstrate that Roman period cisterns were used like precipitation tanks, in which the water was rested.

Althougth little remains of the water structures which were of such importance in daily life for the Romans and Byzantines, we gather from documentary sources that in the Roman period in particular nymphaeums were a prominent architectural feature of the city, situated in colonnaded roads, forums and other positions where they would make maximum visual impact. One of these was Nymphaeum Maximum in Tarsus Square (the location of the main building of İstanbul University today), to which water was carried by the aqueduct generally believed to have been built in 368 by the Emperor Valens (364-378). The origins of the nymphaeum can be traced back to ancient Greece. These monumental fountains whose water was supplied by conduits generally provided a decorative feature in public squares, but in Roman and Byzantine times they were also appar-ently features of private gardens belonging to wealthy citizens. This latter type is described as being adorned with columns and statues, and while generaly being made of marble, might also occasionally be made of bronze or porphyry . Few can have survived into Ottoman times, and those that did were probably either renovated in line with contemporary taste and style, so losing their original character, or in time replaced by new fountains.

Studies conducted so far into the waterworks of this period (Andréossy 1818, Strzygowski and Forchheimer 1893, Nirven 1946, Eyice 1989, Ertuğrul 1989, Çeçen 1979, 1984, 1988, 1991, 1992, 1996) reveal that İstanbul's first know water supply lines belonged to four systems. The earliest was built in the time of Emperor Hadrian (117-138) and brought water from a source west of the city to the area around Sultanahmet Square. This supply line was extended during the reign of Theodosius II (408-50). The second large supply line in İstanbul was built during the reign of the Emperor Constantine (324-337) and carried water from the Istranca Mountains west of the city. The longest of all water supply lines constructed by the Romans (Çeçen 1996:22) was 242 km in length, starting from a point 6 km west of Vize west of İstanbul, and entering the city justt south of Edirnekapı. İstanbul's third major water supply line was constructed in the time of Emperor Valens in 373 and passed over the aqueduct named after him in Şehzadebaşı which is largely intact today. The Valens water line, which was renovated and enlarged during the reigns of Justinian (527-65) and Constantine V (720-740), supplied the Achilleus Baths and Yerebatan (Basilica) Cistern (Çeçen 1996).

The fourth line carried water from the Belgrad Forest to the northwest part of İstanbul and is thought to have been built by Theodosius I (379-395).

When the Roman Empire, whose roots go back the founding of Rome in the eighth century BC, was split into East and West in 395 AD. Eastern Rome (dubbed the Byzantine Empire by historians in the nineteenth century) gradually developed its own distinctive styles of architecture and art. Byzantium had been rebuilt as the eastern capital of Rome in 330 AD, and now became capital of this new political entity. From the sixth century onwards new architectural forms began to depart from ancient Roman tradition, but the need for water and water structures remained.

As the city's population grew so did the need for water. When wells, cisterns and water sources outside the city became inadequate, the existing water supply lines and distribution networks inside the city were expanded and new sources harnessed.

This was achieved by means of relatively minor additions to the original Roman water system. Constantine V Copronymus (741-775), Romanus III Argyrus (1028-1034), and Manuel I Comnenus (1143-1180) merely repaired the existing water system , which remained adequate until the tenth century. From that time onwards sieges and earthquakes left İstanbul's water supply system and distribution network virtually defunct, and the Byzantines began to rely primarily on cisterns as a cheaper and more reliable means of securing water. Instead of carrying out expensive repairs to the Roman water system, they built new cisterns to augment those built during the Roman period, so that the city would not have to rely on water sources at a distance from the city.

In summary, particularly from the ninth century onwards small mains lines added to the old water supply lines and cisterns became the primary source of Byzantine İstanbul's water

Both open and covered cisterns of sometimes enormous size were located at various points around the city both within and outside the walls, serving as water collection and distribution centres. The underground cisterns not only provided water, but served as smooth raised platforms on which buildings were constructed. This was convenient in a hilly city like İstanbul.

In her account of the houses of pre-fifth century İstanbul, Tamara Talbot Rice writes that the large houses of wealthy citizens resembled those at Ostia, Rome's seaport, and had a well or cistern in their courtyards which supplied the household with water.

Deterioration of the old Roman water system as a result of damage resulting from both sieges and natural causes, as already mentioned, prompted the Byzantines to make extensive use of cisterns. In particular from the ninth century onwards, small conduits were added to the earlier water system to distribute water from reservoirs and cisterns.

When the Emperor Justinian had large cisterns constructed in the city in the sixth century, he also repaired the Hadrian Waterway which provided water to the city's nymphaeums and the Great Palace.

Another type of water structure in İstanbul dating from Roman and Byzantine times was the ayazma or sacred spring. These were structures built over springs of mineral water regarded as sacred, and not used for domestic needs. Hence they were not connected up to the city's water system.

Regulations concerning water laid down in the Codes of Theodosius and Justinian make it clear that İstanbul's water supply came from outside the city. In the Prokhiron, a revised version of the Code of Justinian dating from 870-878, strict regulations concerning use of the waterways and special provisions relating to their cleaning and maintenance demonstrate the importance attached to the city's water system.

Earlier damage and deterioration in the Roman period water system was compounted still further by the Latin occupation in 1204, after which the water system became virtually unusable. When İstanbul passed into the hands of the Ottomans in 1453, major repairs and additions were made to the system.



In the wake of his conquest of İstanbul, Sultan Mehmed II commanded that urgent repairs be made to the existing water system. In addition four new water supply lines were constructed: the Fatih Waterway, the Turunçlu Waterway, the Şadırvan Waterway, and the Mahmutpaşa Waterway. The Kırkçeşme system dating from the late Roman period was renovated at the same time.

The problem of supplying sufficient water to a growing urban population was one with which İstanbul had contended throughout its history. The Ottomans, too, enlarged İstanbul's water system at various times over the centuries, but above all it was the waterworks carried out by Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent which dealt with the water problem most effectively.

During the reign of Mehmed II a water department was established, illustrating the importance which the Ottomans attached to the water supply, as other civilisations had done before them.

During the reign of Mehmet II's son Sultan Bayezid II (1481-1512) Bayezid Waterway was built,and during the reign of his son Selim I (1512-1520) diverse waterworks were constructed. Yet water supply continued to fall short of demand. To find a more far-reaching solution to the shortage, Süleyman the Magnificent called in Chief Imperial Architect Mimar Sinan. It seems probable that Mimar Sinan worked on this project in cooperation with the Director of Water Hasan Ağa. He studied the existing waterways dating from the Roman-Byzantine period and those built since the Turkish conquest, and invenstigated new sources of water. In 1554 he commenced major reconstruction and enlargemend of the Kırkçeşme system, making use of surviving aqueducts and dams following the former Roman supply line and using the ancient Valens aqueduct. Completed in 1560, this was the most comprehensive water supply project undertaken by the Ottomans in İstanbul. There is a diagram of this system in the Ahmed III Library at Topkapı Palace, ref H. 1815, which is thought to date from before 1620. It shows the Kovuk (also known as the Kırık) Aqueduct, the Uzun Aqueduct, the head basin and Cebeciköy Aqueduct, giving their measurements and diverse other information about the system.

Most of the water transmission lines built in Ottoman times are still in use today.

  • Halkalı Water System (formerly the Cev'mi-i Şerife) consisting of 16 independent transmission lines running into the city from the northwest. Part of this system probably dates from the Roman era.

  • Kırkçeşme Water System (1554-1564)

  • Taksim Water System (1731-1839)

  • Other water supply lines, and the Hamidiye and Kayışdağı water systems

These supply lines carried water into İstanbul from springs and dams via aqueducts and conduits first to water towers known as maslak, and from there to water balances or su terazisi. From there it was finally piped to public fountains and to individual buildings. The various water structures which made up the Ottoman water system were as follows:

Dams known as bend were built across ravines to collect spring and rainwater in reservoirs behind them. To each side of the dam walls were sluices over which the water flowed into basins and distrubution chambers. Three types of dam wall were built in the Ottoman period: straight walls, as at Karanlık Bend, Büyük Bend and Kirazlı Bend; angled walls, as at Topuzlu Bend, Ayvat Bend, and Valide Bend; and curved walls, as at Yeni Bend.

Aqueducts (sukemeri) in the form of arched bridges had been used since Roman times to carry water across valleys and streams dividing two areas of high ground so that it did not lose height. During the reign of Süleyman the Magnificent thi defunct Roman water system which carried water from the Belgrad Forest to İstanbul was rebuilt with additions and extensions by Mimar Sinan, and became known as the Kırkçeşme water system. He built 33 aqueducts to carry water to the Kırkçeşme distribution network, which was one of the most important in Ottoman İstanbul. Some of these aqueducts were monumental in scale, such as the Kovuk Kemer, Paşa Kemeri, Uzunkemer, Mağlova Kemeri and Güzelce Kemer.

These mainly circular basins (havuz) ranging in diameter from 2 to 30 metres and 2 to 20 metres in depth served as intermediary collection points for the water. Some had two section, and some two levels.

Water Tanks
These maslaks, as they were called, were placed at points where the main supply line branched. They consisted of a tank with a discharge measuring system consisting of numerous spouts for adjusting and determining the quantity of water which flowed in each direction. The presence of a discharge measuring tank has led some sources to confuse these with maksems. They were always located outside the city.

Distribution Chambers
Known as maksem were domed or vaulted buildings containing large water tanks with spillways and distribution chambers divided into compartments and fed by nozzles called lüle. Some of these maksem were above ground, such as those in Taksim, Eyüp, and Harbiye, while others were below the ground, like the Hacı Osman Bayırı maksem.

Water Balances
Known as su terazisi, these tower-like structures maintained water pressure when conveying water to neighbourhoods at a high-level. Varying from 3 to 10 m in height, they had a cistern at the summit from which the water flowed into distribution pipes.

Precipitation Tanks
Known as tersip or çökertme tanks, these were a series of connected tanks where the water rested so that any gravel or sand was precipitated before being piped to the maksem and distributed to the various city mains.

The water measuring system was crucial for controlling the amount of water supplied to each fountain. The amounts were specified for each fountain, whose water sources could vary. As well as state supplied water known as miri or hassa, there were water sources in the form of pious endowments or vakıf for the public benefit, and private water sources known as mülk allocated to individuals by the sultan (in deeds known as temlikname). The water was measured by means of dividing the water among numerous spouts set 96mm beneath the surface of the water in a long rectangular sluice. The spouts were in a number of different standard diameters and hence discharge rates, enabling the amount of water passing through them over a specific time to be measured precisely. The most common standard was the lüle, others being the kamış, masura, çuvaldız and hilal. The inside diameter of the lüle pipe was defined as that through which a lead sphere weighing 30 dirhem (approximately 96.5 g) would pass, ie 73.58 mm. The term lüle was also used in a general sense to refer to such water measuring spouts.

The Ottoman water administration system dated back to the reign of Mehmed II, who as already said, established a department of water under a director of waterworks. The department was in charge of a vast organisation which included waterway maintenance men (suyolcu), surveyors, watchmen who guarded the waterways and dams, carpenters, men who made and applied a waterproof plaster (lökün) to water pipes and tanks, and saka who distributed water in skins. The primary duty of the water director was to supervise the water supply for the palace, but in addition he ensured a regular supply of water to mosques, hamams (public baths), and public fountains, and the maintenance and protection of the water system as a whole. He also cooperated with the chief imperial architect over new water supply projects. The waterway maintenance men repaired the pipelines, water tanks and other mains waterworks, and received a monthly fee from hamams, houses with their own private fountains, and other regular users of water. They had their own guild, and were housed in barracks at various locations around the city. Out of ordinary working hours there were always waterway maintenance men on duty who could be called out in emergencies. The lökün plaster with which the joins of water pipes were coated to prevent leakage was made by mixing lime with olive oil.

Saka is a word derived from Arabic, used in Turkish to mean water carrier. In particular the sakas provided a vital service in times when the mains supply proved inadequate, by carrying large skins of drinking water to houses and establishments in need of water. In addition to public sakas, there were palace sakas whose barracks were situated next to Sakalar Çeşmesi (Fountain of Sakas) facing Şekerci Gate at Haghia Sophia and janissary sakas who served the Janissary Corps.

The public sakas consisted of two groups, those who had horses to carry their water skins, and those who went on foot and carried the skins on their backs. The skins were made out of leather known as saka meşki, and called kırba. Foot saka carried kırba containing 45-50 litres of water, and some distributed water in bowls made of rock crystal. Beside the front door of each house stood small stone tanks known as saka deliği, into which the sakas could empty the water they had brought without entering the house. Pipes from these tanks carried the water to jars standing in the courtyard or inside the house. Water was then scooped out as required using tankard-like water cups known as maşrapa. Some houses were equipped with tiny tanks in the form of pots set into the walls from which water flowed to taps in the living rooms and lavatories. These were filled in the same way by pipes from the tank at the entrance door.

Sakas were only permitted to take water from particular fountains, and no more than the allotted number were permitted to fill their skins at any one fountain. Only when a saka retired or died could another take his place.Philanthropists who endowed fountains sometimes specified in the endowment deed or in the inscription that they did not allow sakas to use the water at all. Fountains where sakas collected water were known as saka fountain. As well as sakas, some dervishes distributed water free as a charitable exercise, either carrying the water themselves or using a horse, and who were not part of the official water distribution organisation.



Endowing money for the construction of a fountain and a water supply line to it was an act of piety which played an important role in Ottoman life. Hardly a sultan, sultan's mother, sultan's daughter, grand vezir, or other august personage did not endow a fountain in expression of their economic, social and political standing, and fountains became an important part of the architectural tradition. Fountains were decorative features of both outdoor public spaces like squares, and intimate indoor spaces in private dwellings, and they reflected the architectural taste and styles of their time.

Surviving documents show that in the sixteenth century in particular the Ottoman government favoured supplying public fountains rather than private homes with mains water. This made the local fountain an indispensable focal point of every neighbourhood. In these introverted neighbourhoods, with their wooden houses with jettied upper storeys, deadend streets, and lanes reflecting their organic evolution, the fountain shaped their unique character. The human scale organic streets wound and turned their way to the mosque square, which was always characterised by a fountain as well as a coffee house and spreading plane tree casting welcome shade. In İstanbul, as in every Turkish city in the past, the local fountain was a hub of social intercourse.

İstanbul was never at any time a city with abundant water sources close at hand, but from the sixteenth century onwards, as the water system was improved and extended, the government began to permit water to be piped into private mansions in the city and along the İstanbul Strait. The luxury of piped mains water was a privilege requiring a royal patent, and ordinary people were still largely dependent on neighbourhood public fountains for their water, augmented by that obtained from wells and cisterns.

There were two classes of fountain, those for the use of the general public and those allocated to the use of the sakas. Although it was forbidden for the sakas, particularly those who used horses, to fill their water skins at the public fountains, this ban was not always complied with. Documents record frequent quarrels between the horse and foot sakas over access to the same fountain. It was to ensure that local people were not obstructed by sakas from obtaining water free from public fountains that a ban on sakas was incorporated into the inscriptions of some of them at the wish of the founder.

Public fountains were of two types with respect to their source of water supply. The first were supplied from sources harnessed or privately owned by individuals (vakıf waters, and mülk waters), and the second were supplied from the mains system (hassa or miri waters).

Although fountains varied with respect to the material they were made of, their form, and style of decoration over the centuries, they basically consisted of the same four elements:

  • A tank in which water was stored, and which was a prominent architectural feature in early fountains. In some cases the roof of these tanks was designed to serve a dual purpose as prayer terrace or namazgah, examples being Esma Sultan Fountain in Kadırga and Abdülmecit Han Fountain in Yeşilköy.

  • A stone slab known as the musluk taşı or ayna taşı, in which the tap was fitted, and which was set inside an arched niche with decoration in the style of the day. The taps were of two types, those which ran continually known as salma, and those which could be turned off and on known as burma.

  • An inscription carved on the ayna taşı giving the name of the person who had endowed it, and sometimes the source of the water and the date of construction.

  • Beneath the tab was a basin known as a kurna, and to either side small raised areas where people collecting water could sit or rest their vessels while they waited.

The design of these elements varied with the architectural fashions of the times, the approach to city planning, and the personal tastes of the founder. Fountains in the form of columns (Ahmet Ağa Fountain built in Çengelköy in 1854) were an unusual type limited to a specific period, for example. Others were designed like the façade of a building and had a monumental effect on the urban texture (Bezmi'lem Valide Sultan Fountains in Yıldız). With the beginning of western influences on Ottoman architecture, it became common to build fountains in squares of commercial, social or ceremonial importance, often next to monumental mosques and their complexes, and situated at points where striking vistas of the city were to be obtained. These often freestanding fountains in the form of miniature pavilions had façades reflecting western architectural fashions, and clearly setting out to rival their western equivalents and to impress the viewer with the modernity and hence power of Ottoman architecture (the two Ahmet III fountains outside the Imperial Gate at Topkapı Palace and in Üsküdar respectively, Mahmud II Fountain in Tophane, and Bezmi'lem Valide Sultan Fountain in Maçka). Others were an integral part of building complexes, or formed an eye-catching feature in the façade of a building.

In line with changes in materials, form and style over the centuries, changes in the abovementioned elements of the fountains were as follows. In the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the ayna taşı which carried the tap was usually plain and set in a classical arched niche. The inscription was located above the tap, and below was the basin flanked by raised platforms. Fountains of these centuries also had water storage tanks. In the eighteenth century, when fountains built of hewn stone made way for marble, this type of façade altered, as the ayna taşı began to acquire a lavish repertoire of carved decoration, including roses, vases of flowers, and plates of fruit set in decorative arches. The formerly deep alcove niches became much shallower, and baroque style shell motifs appeared for the first time. Other changes also took place in fountain architecture in the eighteenth century. The fountain became taller, and the section bearing the inscription became a separate part of the façade, which was sometimes shaded by baroque style eaves.

The first examples of the combined sebil (kiosk for the distribution of drinking water to passers-by in cups) and fountain in a single structure appeared in the seventeenth century (Hatice Turhan Valide Sultan Fountain and Sebil, 1663), and became more common in the eighteenth century. Similarly the monumental meydan fountains-independent structures designed like pavilions-became fashionable, such as Ahmed III Fountain in front of the Imperial Gate at Topkapı Palace.

In the mineteenth century, with a more reliable supply of mains water, fountains no longer needed storage tanks, and this sparked off new designs. Among these were fountains with neo-classical façades.

In the very early period most fountains had had permanently running spouts, but when the Kırkçeşme system was being built during the reign of Süleyman the Magnificent taps which could be turned on and off as required were introduced, so preventing both the wastage of water and permanently muddy streets.

Fountains were diverse, both as regards their structures and their functions, and twentieth century writers on the subject have classified them in numerous different ways. Often the name of a fountain tells its own story, as in the case of the Ayrılık Çeşmesi (Fountain of Departure) which was situated at the point where those accompanying the imperial procession to Mecca, the army setting out on campaign and caravans heading eastwards, and pilgrims to Mecca bade farewell to their loved ones when departing from İstanbul. Similarly, Sel'mi Çeşme was a fountain at another point where travellers arriving in the city were welcomed (selam meaning greeting), and also departed. Bostancı Fountain was named after the bostancıbaşı, the head of the security organisation which checked arrivals and departures from the city. Others referred to characteristics of the fountain itself, such as those known as Çatal Çeşme (fork fountain), which were usually situated at corners and had two or three faces, each with its own tap facing in a different direction. In this study they have been classified undere the following headings according to their positions and purpose.

Wall Fountains
These are fountains built into the walls of buildings, gardens or courtyards. Their storage tanks, where these exist, are located behind the wall. They are also referred to as single-face or façade fountains.These were built in various styles between the fifteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Corner Fountains
Fountains on street corners mainly had a single face in earlier centuries, but in later times examples with two or three faces were constructed. Since the corner edges were liable to get knocked and damaged by laden carts and other vehicles, these were often bevelled up to a certain height, a feature known as çalköşe.

Meydan (Freestanding) Fountains
Located in squares and parade fields, this type of fountain is a freestanding building in the form of a miniature köşk or pavilion. They were an innovation of the eighteenth century and among the earliest examples of western influence on Ottoman architecture. In general they had four sides. Elaborate examples like the monumental Ahmet III Fountain outside the main entrance of Topkapı Palace built in 1728 had sebils at the corners where passers-by could drink water from cups filled by attendants, as well as taps for filling large water containers. Some of the meydan fountains had taps in a single face (such as Mahmud II Fountain in Boyacıköy dated 1837) or two faces (such as Hekimoğlu Ali Paşa Meydan Fountain in Kabataş dated 1732, and Saliha Sultan Fountain in Azapkapı dated 1732).

Fountains Designed as Part of Sebils
Sebils were kiosks where water, sweetend fruit drinks known as şerbet and fruit juice was distributed to passersby. The earliest example in İstanbul is Efdalzade Sebil dated 1496 (Kumbaracılar 1938; Ünsal 1986; Urfalıoğlu 1989).

Just as meydan fountains sometimes incorporated sebils, so sebils sometimes incorporated fountains, and the two types converged if the building was freestanding. The earliest surviving example of this type is the Hatice Turhan Valide Sultan Sebil and Fountain dating from 1663. This type was particularly popular in the eighteenth century, leading some researchers to regard it as a distinguishing characteristic of this period.

Although the existence of an earlier example in the seventeenth century- Hatice Turhan Valide Sultan Sebil and Fountain-demonstrates that as a type it did originate prior to the eighteenth century, the fact that this is the only surviving example makes it difficult to determine how widespread such fountains were in the seventeenth century.

Sebils incorporating fountains, which first appear in the seventeenth century, were usually designed with fountains to one side (Hatice Turhan Valide Sultan Sebil 1663, Sadeddin Efendi Sebil 1741, and Damat İbrahim Paşa Sebil 1719) or on both sides (Hamidiye Sebil 1777 and Koca Ragıp Paşa Sebil 1762), fountain and sebil forming a unified architectural composition. In most instances they were located at the main entrance gate to mosque complexes (Hasan Paşa Sebil 1745, Ahmediye Sebil 1721), or at prominent street corners (Beşir Ağa Sebil 1745) providing visual emphasis and architectural focal points in the form of a selfcontained monumental feature. With the emergence of the monumental meydan fountain in the eighteenth century, the sebil was used as an element which lent a further enrichening element to the design (Ahmed III Fountain at Topkapı Palace, 1728, and Saliha Sultan Fountain 1732).

Namazg'h Fountains
A namazg'h was an open-air prayer terrace constructed for the use both of travellers on caravan routes, and at excursion places on the outskirts of cities. Fountains next to these provided the water which worshippers needed to perform their ritual ablutions before praying and water for them and their animals to drink. There are very few surviving examples of namazg'h fountains, in which the prayer terrace was constructed on top of the fountain's storage tank (Esma Sultan Namazg'h Fountain in Kadırga, Bezmi'lem Valide Sultan Namazg'h and Abdülmecid Han Fountain in Yeşilköy, Sadrazam Mehmed Paşa Fountain at Topçular between Edirnekapı and Rami, and Uzun Çeşme in Kasımpaşa). Our knowledge of these fountains and their architecture is limited in scope. However, from maps of İstanbul's water systems and engravings we see that fountains at halting points had broad eaves to protect those using them from rain, snow and sun, and architecturally resembled urban fountains with troughs beneath the taps. In some cases the namazg'h platform was situated on top of the fountain itself (Anadoluhisarı Fountain, seventeenth century, Esma Sultan Fountain in Kadırga 1779), or the mihrap stone (indicating the direction of Mecca) was incorporated into the fountain structure (Vezir Mehmed Paşa Fountain opposite Sulukule Gate outside the city walls 1589).

Those namazg'h fountains which once existed in İstanbul and its outlying suburbs which we have been able to identify, including the few still standing, are as follows: Üçler Mevkisi Namazg'h Fountain west of Atmeydanı (1516), Çeşmebaşı Namazg'h Fountain in Bayrampaşa, Vezir Mehmed Paşa Namazg'h Fountain (1589) opposite Sulukule Gate outside the city walls at the edge of the Edirnekapı-Topkapı road, Sadrazam Mehmed Paşa Namazg'h Fountain (1617) at Topçular between Edirnekapı and Rami, Kasımpaşa Uzun Çeşme (date uncertain), Okmeydanı Namazg'h Fountain (date uncertain), the fountain beside Bezmi'lem Valide Sultan Namazg'h in Maçka (1839), Abdülmecid Han Fountain at Bezmi'lem Valide Sultan Namazg'h in Yeşilköy (1842), Çatal Çeşme in Suadiye (1550), Toplarönü Namazg'h Fountain in Anadoluhisarı (seventeenth century), Mehmed Bey Namazg'h Fountain at Sultaniye Meadow in Beykoz (1765), Ahmet Ağa (Ayrılık) Fountain in Haydarpaşa (1741), Sel'mi Çeşme Fountain in Kadıköy (1800), Sultan Mahmud II Han Namazg'h Fountain in Bostancı (1831), and Adile Sultan Fountain in Dudullu (originally built in 1730 and renovated in 1891).

Although most of the fountains built at former menzil points (halting points for caravans) in the Asian districts of İstanbul were still standing in their original locations until recent years, their namazg'h terraces have been demolished in the course of new building. The fountains which remain are often hardly noticeable, squeezed between new buildings, as in the case of Mahmud II Han Fountain in Bostancı, Ahmet Ağa (Ayrılık) Fountain in Haydarpaşa, and Sel'mi Çeşme Fountain in Kadıköy.

Indoor Fountains
Indoor fountains in palaces and mansions served multiple functions. As well as being sources of water for washing and ritual ablutions the sound of running water was a pleasant feature lending a mood of tranquility, and in addition served to prevent eavesdroppers from overhearing confidential conversations, and provided a decorative feature in the room. Indoor fountains were supplied either from the public water system, or by privately owned water lines (mülk suları). They featured in buildings from the fifteenth century onwards.

Column Fountains
This type of fountain in the form of single columns became fashionable from the eighteenth century onwards, and examples are to be seen in diverse settings ranging from mosque courtyards to quayside squares. The earliest example is Hacı Beşir Ağa Fountain (1737), in the courtyard of Kocamustafapaşa Mosque, although the majority date from the nineteenth century. The columns sometimes had finials in the form of stylised cabbages (Çengelköy Lahana Fountain). They reflect the fact that the large water storage tanks of earlier times were no longer needed thanks to new and more reliable mains water lines which could supply the fountain tap directly. Inspiration for the column design was almost certainly of Western derivation, and probably set out to provide İstanbul with an equivalent of the monumental statues which adorned European cities. Conceptually they took over the role of the meydan fountains as striking focal points of urban squares. Examples are the Mahmud II Fountain in Tarabya (1831) and Kavacık Fountain (1837).

The selsebil was an ornamental cascade fountain located in gardens of grand homes. The marble basins of graduated size were set into an upright slab of stone known as the zank taşı. The water poured either into a final large basin or garden pool.

These structures were not intended to supply water needs, but as a decorative architectural feature enhancing the space where they were located. Those in interior spaces, like room fountains, were intended partly to create a pleasant splashing sound of water in the room and at the same time make it possible to hold private conversations without being overheard while also serving an air conditioning function by cooling the air. Those located in the openair of pavilions and waterfront houses had similar functions, and in addition provided water for birds.