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Rejans

  • Name:
    Rejans
  • Alternative names:

    Режанс, La Régence, 1924 Istanbul

  • Kind of Organisation:
    Café / Restaurant
  • Introduction:

    Rejans (now 1924 Istanbul) restaurant, at the end of the Olivya Passageway is one of Beyoğlu’s landmarks. A relic of 1920s “Russian Istanbul”, where the original atmosphere has been preserved.

    Word Count: 31

  • Content:

    Rejans (now 1924 Istanbul) restaurant, at the end of the Olivio (Olivya) Passageway is one of Beyoğlu’s landmarks. A relic of 1920s “Russian Istanbul”, where the original atmosphere has been preserved. Though the restaurant has always been incredibly popular, there is not much information about it. According to newspaper articles and advertisements, a restaurant called La Régence (Rejans in French) already existed in Istanbul (Grand Rue de Péra 76, now presumably İstiklal Caddesi 30) in the early 1920s. Despite the fact that its owner, Marius Berthet, was French, the restaurant was very popular with Russians. This was most likely because the owner paid great attention to the entertainment programme and hired Russian-speaking waiters. According to documents from the Republican archives of the Prime Ministry (Turkey), the restaurant was still functioning in 1924, but Berthet himself was clearly in trouble. In February of that year his wines were taken from his home by local police officers who strangely failed to show him their warrant cards, and two months later, in April, some items were officially confiscated from the restaurant. The details and sequence of events are unknown but we can assume that Berthet's troubles did not end there as he was forced to close the restaurant. Its name was taken over by other people years later.

    The site of today's 1924 Istanbul restaurant (Olivya Gç. 7–A), was originally occupied by the Trianon beer hall, then, from 1924, by the Turkuaz/Turkuvaz restaurant. Rejans opened its doors between 1930 and 1934 (unfortunately, the sources do not agree on dates). Its founders were Veronika Protopopova, Vera Chirik, and Tevfik Manars (according to Marina Sığırcı, a Russian Jew who preferred to call himself in a Turkish manner). In the 1940s, the place was teeming with spies, in the 1950s, it was a regular haunt  of officials and ambassadors, and in the 1960s, it became a favourite restaurant of writers, poets and intellectuals. In 1976, the building was badly damaged by fire. According to Marina Sığırcı, the famous fashion historian Alexander Vasiliev was later invited to recreate the interior. The restaurant changed hands many times, but its features (except, perhaps, the tradition of drinking tea with bubliks at 4-5 o’clock in the afternoon) remained unchanged: delicious food (beef stroganoff, chicken Kiev, borsch, pirozhkis, etc.); lemon vodka according to an old recipe, which local people often call “yellow vodka”; excellent music (once, gypsy songs, a balalaika orchestra and beautiful Madame Taskina at the piano, but now accordion music performed by Edward Aris). It would be impossible to list all of Rejans' celebrity guests, who ranged from Greta Garbo and Agatha Christie to İbrahim Çallı and Ara Güler, but perhaps the most famous regular diner was Atatürk (he also frequented the Pera Palace Hotel), whose table number 2 is reserved forever. The closing of the restaurant in 2011 was a great loss but, to everyone’s surprise and delight, the restaurant reopened its doors in 2015 - this time under the name 1924 Istanbul.

    Word Count: 493

  • Known addresses in Metromod cities:

    Olivya Gç. 7–A, Beyoğlu, Istanbul.

  • Signature Image:
    1924 Istanbul, interior (© 1924 Istanbul, Sashah Anton Khan).
  • Media:
    An advertisement from the Nashi Dni almanac, 1921.
    An advertisement from the Nashi Dni almanac, 1921.
    Announcement concerning the Turkuaz/Turkuvaz restaurant's (Olivio Passageway) events. From the Russian newspaper Presse du Soir, 1924, n.p. (Slavonic Library/Slovanská knihovna, Prague).
    Turkuaz/Turkuvaz restaurant-casino, beauty contest, 1931 (CFA_003750, © Suna ve İnan Kıraç Vakfı Fotoğraf Koleksiyonu, Istanbul).
    Turkuaz/Turkuvaz restaurant-casino, beauty contest, 1931 (CFA_003754, © Suna ve İnan Kıraç Vakfı Fotoğraf Koleksiyonu, Istanbul).
    1924 Istanbul, interior (© 1924 Istanbul, Sashah Anton Khan).
    Atatürk's table which is reserved forever (© 1924 Istanbul, Sashah Anton Khan).
    1924 Istanbul, Borsch Soup (© 1924 Istanbul, Sashah Anton Khan).
    1924 Istanbul, "Yellow vodka" (© 1924 Istanbul, Sashah Anton Khan).
  • Bibliography (selected):

    Anonymous. “La Regence.” Nashi Dni. Nos Jours, no. 14, 1921, p. 20.

    Deleon, Jak. The White Russians in Istanbul. Remzi Kitabevi, 1995.

    Eminoğlu, Münevver, editor. 1870 Beyoğlu 2000. Bir Beyoğlu Fotoromanı. Yapı Kredi Kültür Sanat Yayıncılık, 2004.

    İnal, Onur. Pera’dan Beyoğlu’na. E Yayınları, 2012.

    Sığırcı, Marina. Spasibo, Konstantinopol’! Po sledam beloemigrantov v Turtsii. “Yevropeyskiy Dom”, 2018.

    Word Count: 61

  • Archives and Sources:

    The Republican Archive of the Prime Ministry (Turkey).

    Slavonic Library (Slovanská knihovna) in Prague.

    İstanbul Research İnstitute.

    Word Count: 17

  • Acknowledgements:

    My deepest thanks go to the representatives of Slavonic Library (Slovanská knihovna) in Prague. I am also very grateful to Edward Aris (musician) and Sashah Anton Khan (1924 Istanbul Restaurant's co-owner) for their help.

    Word Count: 33

  • Author:
    Ekaterina Aygün
  • Metropolis:
    Istanbul
  • Entry in process:
    no
  • Ekaterina Aygün. "Rejans." METROMOD Archive, 2021, https://archive.metromod.net/viewer.p/69/2949/object/5145-10703470, last modified: 16-09-2021.
  • Russkiy v Konstantinopole/Le Russe à Constantinople
    Guide-book

    The guide-book was created for Russian-speaking refugees who had to leave their country and settle in Constantinople.

    Word Count: 17

    Russkiy v Konstantinopole / Le Russe à Constantinople, 1921, cover (Slavonic Library/Slovanská knihovna, Prague).
    Announcement concerning the publication of the guide-book in the Russian newspaper Presse du Soir, 1921, n.p. (Slavonic Library/Slovanská knihovna, Prague).Russkiy v Konstantinopole / Le Russe à Constantinople, 1921, cover (Slavonic Library/Slovanská knihovna, Prague).Layout of the Grand Rue de Péra (Istiklal Street) from the guide-book, 1921 (Slavonic Library/Slovanská knihovna, Prague).Schematic plan of Constantinople for ‘Russian’ refugees in the guide-book Russkiy v Konstantinopole/Le Russe à Constantinople, 1921 (Slavonic Library/Slovanská knihovna, Prague).Most common words in Turkish for ‘Russian’ refugees from the guide-book, 1921 (Slavonic Library/Slovanská knihovna, Prague).
    Istanbul
    Pera Palace Hotel
    Hotel

    The Pera Palace was the gem of Pera district where people gathered to wine and dine and be entertained, as well as to discuss the issues of the day.

    Word Count: 29

    Pera Palace Hotel, Tepebaşı (SALT Araştırma, Fotoğraf ve Kartpostal Arşivi, Istanbul).
    Pera Palace Hotel, Tepebaşı (SALT Araştırma, Fotoğraf ve Kartpostal Arşivi, Istanbul).Image of Pera Palace Hotel (Güneş Newspaper, 14 April 1991).Jazz-Band du Pera Palace by photographer Jean Weinberg (Les Russes sur le Bosphore Almanac, 1928).
    Istanbul