A quarter of the Ottoman city popular with the Rum (Ottoman Greeks), the neighbouring districts of Fener and Balat are full of delightful lanes.
The lower districts, along the shoreline of the Golden Horn, Fener and Balat, are home to a receding community of Phanariot families who trace their origin back to Byzantium. Time was when they, like their Muslim neighbours, would never even dream of crossing the Golden Horn to the fleshpots of Beyoglu. Two landmarks are the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate and a gothic church cast in iron, signed Wagner of Vienna, which the Bulgarians floated down the Danube. One happy story is the conversion of the Cibali Cigarette Factory into Kadir Has University. However, even that is now overshadowed by the hijacking of its restoration of the delightful lanes and alleyways between the university and the land walls. So horrific are the plans as to be hard to credit. For more than a decade, exactly the right sort of people have poured their money and good taste into a slow but rewarding restoration of the quarter. Now even these are to be confiscated, torn down and replaced by sham modern old buildings – a truly ghastly affair. Oh dear. Go quick before the bulldozers get there.
Kadir Has University has spawned decent lokantas; the best köfte in the city is produced by the Arnavut Köftecisi, on the coast road; and the Kariye Hotel has the most ambitious Istanbul’s Ottoman fusion restaurants, and a peaceful outdoor terrace in which to rest weary feet (actually it is an amazingly good place to stay as well).