Glamorous İstanbul

Throughout İstanbul’s incarnations, the Bosphorus has been the city’s centrepiece. Dating from the 17th century and later, the breathtaking mansions “leaning their backs against the groves and stretching their feet to the sea” illuminate a distinctive period in Ottoman history. The owner’s status governed the location of their mansion, as well as its colour, with these Ottoman-era structures generally erected in the style of pavilions (köşk) and residences (konak) with two or three floors, many rooms and sections, and large gardens or groves. Most were built with stone or brick and wood and timber (baghdâdî) techniques, alluding to their Ottoman architectural lineage with touches such as hand drawn ornaments and wide bay windows (cumba) rather than balconies. In keeping with their waterfront location, many of the mansions featured boathouses.


Although the Dolmabahçe Palace, Çırağan Palace, Adile Sultan Pavilion, Beylerbeyi Palace and Küçüksu Pavilion are among the most prominent structures visible along the Bosphorus today, it is believed that, at one point, more than 300 mansions lined both sides of the waterway. A cruise on the Bosphorus reveals strikingly beautiful mansions on the European side at Ortaköy, Kuruçeşme, Arnavutköy, Bebek, Rumelihisarı, Emirgan, İstinye, Yeniköy, Tarabya and Sarıyer; on the Anatolian side, mansions can be seen at Kuzguncuk, Beylerbeyi, Çengelköy, Vanikoy, Kandilli, Anadoluhisarı, Kanlıca, Çubuklu, Paşabahce and Beykoz. While some of these buildings were erected during the Republican Era, most were built during the Ottoman Empire. Some surviving structures have been restored to their former splendour through conservation efforts and converted into hotels, museums or splendid event venues. Many mansions still serve as residences for İstanbuli families.


The Serene Oasis of İstanbul: The Bosphorus

Naturally, the perfect way to traverse the Bosphorus is by boat, where you can see the mansions lined up like gems along the shore. Boat tours in İstanbul usually depart from the ferry piers in the bustling Kabataş and Eminönü neighbourhoods. Generally available as short or long tours, these boat journeys are very popular among visitors, offering an opportunity to take in the beauty of the Bosphorus and its coastline in a limited amount of time. Another option is to hire a private boat for a more flexible and exclusive experience. As spring arrives, the Strait’s shoreline comes alive with redbud blossoms in shades of pink, lilac and purple. This rainbow of colours, stretching from Beykoz to Üsküdar and Kuzguncuk and from the Historical Peninsula to Beşiktaş, Kuruçeşme, Yeniköy and Rumeli Hisarı, enhances the dramatic beauty of İstanbul’s mansions. With luck, your springtime Bosphorus tour may also include watching dolphins frolic in the water. 


The City's Attraction Centre

For İstanbul residents, as well as for local and international tourists, the Bosphorus coast is home to some of the city’s hippest destinations. In addition to presenting a vivid and enjoyable atmosphere that highlights the vibrancy of this metropolis, the Bosphorus shoreline houses excellent fish restaurants, Michelin-rated and fine-dining venues serving superb international and Turkish cuisine, picturesque cafes, and even sophisticated nightclubs! A stroll along a Bosporus promenade may also offer the unexpected – from a delicious street snack to an impromptu concert by a traditional musician.