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Istanbul water fountain
Photograph: Only Fabrizio / Shutterstock.com

Istanbul’s OTT public drinking fountains are straight out of a Wes Anderson movie

These stately structures are currently undergoing mass renovation

Ed Cunningham
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Ed Cunningham
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Istanbul is absolutely overflowing (if you’ll pardon the pun) with breathtakingly beautiful water fountains. Scattered throughout the city, they’re ornate, gorgeously decorated relics – with enough symmetry and fine patterns to leave Wes Anderson drooling.

The fountains date from Turkey’s Ottoman era (1299-1922), during which it was seen as the duty of Istanbul’s wealthy to provide water to the wider public. Many were conceived as statements of prestige; examples of grand design as much as they were works of charity. These days, however, most of Istanbul’s public drinking fountains are for decoration only. Suffering from neglect, many are now run-down – and totally dried-up.

But recently there’s been a campaign to revive the fountains. In 2020, 40 were restored, with many more set to follow. Not only are they sources of clean water, but they’re also historic relics and community meeting points. Not to mention that so many of them are really, truly gorgeous. Here are a few of our favourites:

Fountain of Ahmed III

Istanbul water fountain
Photograph: Shutterstock

Tophane Fountain

Istanbul water fountain
Photograph: Only Fabrizio / Shutterstock.com

Fountain in Grand Camlica Mosque

Istanbul water fountain
Photograph: Digilog / Shutterstock.com

Fountain of Ahmed III (Üsküdar)

Istanbul water fountain
Photograph: yusuf.yilmaz / Shutterstock.com

Fountain in Suleymaniye Mosque

Istanbul water fountain
Photograph: Shutterstock

German Fountain

Istanbul water fountain
Photograph: Shutterstock

Fountain in the Grand Bazaar

Istanbul water fountain
Photograph: Angel BV / Shutterstock.com

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