Being able to travel is one of the things I have missed the most during lockdown. So I decided to explore and re-explore the various districts of Istanbul, to look at them with new eyes, and to use my own experiences to send you off on vicarious travels. Today I’d like to offer an enchanting visit to a district that you may not find in your guidebook: Arnavutköy.
Nestling on the European shore of the Bosphorus, in a relaxing setting, the Arnavutköy district still clearly bears the imprint of the Ottoman empire on its architecture, its culture and its cuisine.
To make a visit to Arnavutköy is to yield to the combined charms of the Bosphorus; of graceful wooden Ottoman mansions, all similar but every one unique; of the district’s fish restaurants; of its designer boutiques and its fashionable cafes and bars. This is also a place to be reminded, yet again, that in a country which was founded on the idea of living together, peaceful cohabitation between different ethnic and religious communities is possible.
The district is off the main tourist trail, and it’s one of those most prized by Istanbul’s residents for lunching or dining. It’s a marvellous neighbourhood which, after dark, transforms itself into a lively meeting-place for the Turkish elite. Explore the area by wandering along its sloping alleys as the whim takes takes you, stop in the little cafes, but also mingle with the anglers lined up along the quay. There you can enjoy a different perspective, and get a fresh look at the soft pastel colours of the photogenic facades. Provided, of course, that you can resist the attractions of the Bosphorus, because it’s difficult to compete with its chaotic beauty! That’s all I’ll say about it; I’ll leave you to explore it in images.