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The Narmanlı Han in Tünel – now looking a little worse for wear and housing shops – was initially built in 1831 by the Swiss-Italian architects Gaspare and Giuseppe Fossati, to serve as the Russian Embassy. With its Grecian-temple-like façade, it proved to be imposing enough for the Russians until the 1920s when they sold the building. The cheap cost of the rooms meant that artists, writers and publishers soon started using these as their studios and offices.
Between 1944 and 1951, it was the place where the novelist and poet Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar worked, and it was also favoured by the painters Bedri Rahmi Eyüboglu and Aliye Berger, sister of the poet the Fisherman of Halicarnassus, who held famous soirés in the balconied apartment looking across to the garden of the Swedes. The studio spaces still exist in the courtyard behind, but in desperate condition. A plan to build a bank tower in the courtyard has been – thankfully – abandoned for now.
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