Thursday, February 29

A Local Guide to Istanbul: Mosques, Slow Cooked Kebabs, and the Magnificent Bosphorus | Istanbul Vacations


Lisa Morrow has lived in the city since 2010 and blogs on Inside out in Istanbul

Meal

The types of food available in Istanbul reflect its diverse population. Fiction Erra Goppa, in the backstreets of the busy Taksim district, serves particularly well fiction, a flat puff pastry meatloaf from the Circassian territory, in northern Turkey, across the Caspian Sea.

For a more filling meal, I usually go to Siirt Seref Buryan Kebab Shop, near the Aqueduct of Valens, on the other side of Haliç, (the Golden Horn) in Fatih. Named after Siirt, a city in southeastern Turkey, specializes in buryan skewer, delicious lamb simmered in a toothY (tandoor) oven. I will combine it with a plate of mumbar, lamb tripe stuffed with rice, parsley, onion and pepper.

The Golden Horn subway bridge
The Golden Horn subway bridge. Photograph: Yilmaz Savas Kandag / Alamy

Inspiration

I love the waterways of Istanbul. I regularly take the ferry across the Bosphorus to Emirgan to get some air and art in Sakip Sabanci Museum. The former family home of Turkish businessman Sabanci now offers a variety of local and international exhibitions. The large deck overlooking the water is a great place to daydream. Or I’ll take a ferry along the Golden Horn to Eyüp. There I gaze at the incredibly beautiful tiles of the Eyüp Sultan Mosque complex, sit for a while under century-old plane trees, and then wander the elaborate Ottoman cemeteries thinking about what to write next.

The terrace of the Sabanci Museum art gallery
The terrace of the Sabanci Museum art gallery. Photograph: Tim E White / Alamy

Neighborhood

The words Üsküdar and conservative often go hand in hand, but this mosque-filled neighborhood offers so much more. I marvel at the extraordinary vaulted glass ceiling of Nevmekan Sahil, a former registry office turned library. Lunch is near Stuffed meatballs.

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It is handmade meatball They are extremely good and the view from the tables on the first floor is fabulous. Kiz Kulesi (Maiden’s Tower) is right in front, and some days you see people swimming. Later I’m going to Old Coffee for the thrill of having coffee in an old hamam, then for Safe Design Store to see if they have a new scarf to add to my collection.

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Green space

The outdoor space is gorgeous in Istanbul and, for the most part, dizzying. Yildiz Park, not far from Dolmabahçe Palace, cascades down the banks of the Bosphorus, offering a lush refuge from traffic. I enjoy Turkish breakfast here with friends at Villa Malta – which was built for Sultan Abdülaziz as a hunting lodge – or pack a picnic lunch on one of the grassy terraces.

Tiles in the Eyüp Sultan Mosque complex.
Tiles in the Eyüp Sultan Mosque complex. Illustration: Hennie Haworth / The Guardian

I have recently started walking the trails of Haliç. Vast tracts of flat land have been created on both sides of the estuary using mud drawn from the waterway. The gardens are a work in progress, but it’s great to see them take shape.

Night life

Night out in Istanbul generally revolve around meeting friends for dinner, lunch, and a chat over a glass of wine or two. That’s why I like to go to Viktor Levi Winery, an old wine house in Kadiköy. It produces its own wine, with bottles labeled with the number. The interior is like a gentlemen’s club, with cozy banquettes and you can dine outside in the garden.

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When I want to dance, I will Babylon. It’s a club where everyone is focused on music and having fun, so it’s like being at a party full of friends. They have live acts and DJs from all over the world.

To stay

The charming and quirky Hotel Empress Zoe (doubles from £ 42 B&B) has a maze-shaped design that reflects the complexity of the city’s history. The reception area is down a short flight of stairs and incorporates part of the wall from a Byzantine palace. From there, a spiral staircase leads up to rooms decorated with wood accents and handwoven rugs, and a lush garden with palm trees and other exotic plants. It is within walking distance of Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.




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