Reading list | Büyükdere

At first sight, Büyükdere is not very promising, but it has a fabulous museum, several  grand yalıs, and the odd meyhane. As in Arnavutköy, a highway on stilts was constructed in front of the town, separating it from the sea. But historically, after Tarabya, this was the second of the grand places to build your summer embassy, and the Spanish and the Russians still have handsome houses and gardens here. The Spanish was the first to be restored. The Russians have just begun, and the view of the bay of Beykoz, where they  liked to moor their fleet, explains the location. Büyükdere (the Grand Valley), is home of the Turkish coastguard fleet.

Historically, Büyükdere's advantage over Tarabya was that it backed on to the Belgrade Forest, in the old days an easy ride away – you could hire a horse from the shore, and the sultan used to do the long ride from the top of the Golden Horn to Sarıyer, pausing to rest and contemplate by one of the several great reservoirs built by the Ottomans in the forest. There are frequent buses (to Bahçeköy). Also woth a visit near Bahçeköy is the Atatürk Arboretum, though it has to be said having a car helps.

The key thing to note when planning a visit to Büyükdere is that the Sadberk Hanım Museum, possibly the best private museum in Turkey, is is closed on Wednesday, not, like most other musuems, on Monday.