Cornucopia’s travel guide

Bebek


The most urban of the ‘villages’ lining the European shore of Bosphorus, with pretty parks at either end of an albeit modest village high street and the ornate Art Nouveau Egyptian palace, formerly Khedival Mother’s yalı, who also owned the woods behind it (miraculously preserved and Bebek’s prettiest aspect).The Kavafyan Konak, the oldest surviving mansion on the Bosphorus, is a 14-page pictue feature in Cornucopia 57, with an article by historian Burak Çentıntaş, a specialist in Istanbul's architecture. 

Güneş was the old favourite restaurant, with the creamiest of patlıcan salatası – sadly the owner sold up, and it is now anonymous and foreign sounding. Bebek is well stocked with several fashionable restaurants, as well as the odd boutique, two good bookshops, exceptional mastic ice cream (at Güneş) and, at Bebek Badem Ezmesi, creamy fresh marzipan.

Bebek’s village proper is the district known as Küçük Bebek, reached by a narrow lane from the chaotic little square at the top end of the village high street, which a fine old plane tree attempts to bring order to. But the most desirable flats are in the hills upstream, away from the flotsam of the coast road, in *korus* (woods) such as the Ayşe Sultan Korusu, with sensational Bosphorus views. A discreet entrance leads to to the wooded lane leading up to the Boğazici University (formerly Robert College), behind the towers of Rumelihisarı – a second road goes up to it behind the fortress cemetery.

At the top of the hill, above the lower park with the Egyptian Consultate General, is Etiler, where the city proper and serious shopping resume.

Well protected from both northerly Poyraz and southerly Lodos winds, the bay has always been a place to park your yacht. In the garden between the Egyptian Consulate General and the pretty 1920s mosque, is one of the last working boat stations.

What you will see

The most urban of the ‘villages’ lining the European shore of Bosphorus, with pretty parks at either end of an albeit modest village high street and the ornate Art Nouveau Egyptian palace, formerly Khediva Mother’s yalı, which also owned the woods behind it (miraculously preserved and Bebek’s prettiest aspect), fashionable restaurants, the odd boutique, two good bookshops, exceptional mastic ice cream (at Güneş) and, at Bebek Badem Ezmesi, creamy fresh marzipan.

Bebek’s village proper is the district known as Küçük Bebek, reached by a narrow lane from the plane tree-dominated chaotic little square at the top end of the village high street. But the most desirable flats are on the hillside upstream of Bebek, away from the flotsam of the coast road, in korus (woods) such as the Ayşe Sultan Korusu, with sensational Bosphorus views. Farther up is the discreet entrance to the wooded lane leading up to the Boğazici University (formerly Robert College), behind the towers of Rumelihisarı.

At the top of the hill, above the lower park next to the Egyptian Consultate General, is Etiler, where the city proper and serious shopping resume.

Well protected from both northerly Poyraz and southerly Lodos winds, the bay has always been a place to park your yacht. In the garden between the Egyptian Consulate General and the pretty 1920s mosque, is one of the last working boat stations.

Getting there

Buses hurtle up and down the Bosphorus. There are occasional boats. By taxi at rush hour, allow the driver to deviate into the hills.

Getting around

A small place, so walking is the thing. The esplanade between Bebek and Rumelihisarı is popular with earnest walkers.