- What’s On
Once it was the hub of commercial life, its shores lined with bustling quays and the biggest concentration of mosques, churches and synagogues in the city. Now the tide has turned on this famous Bosphorus inlet, and it has become a backwater. Owen Matthews wanders around the Golden Horn’s heady past with John Freely, the man who made strolling through the city an art
Barrel-chested and white-bearded, rolling slightly on two replaced hips, John Freely negotiates the crowded lanes of old Istanbul like a tubby Bosphorus vegetable boat breasting the swell. One can imagine Freely in another age, as a Stambouli holy man, a humanistic Sufi scholar like the 17th-century diarist and traveller Evliya Çelebi, perhaps, steeped in the city’s history, an and ear always open to its life and rhythms.
They have a lot in common, Evliya and John. Both prolific chroniclers of the city and the empire, their respective literary journeys, four centuries apart, began in the same place on the shores of the Golden Horn.
Every spring great shoals swim up through the Bosphorus to breed in the deep, cool waters of the Black Sea, returning south at the end of the summer to the warmer Sea of Marmara and Mediterranean. These twice-yearly visitors to Istanbul are the stars of the gastronomic world and have made the Bosphorus famous for its fish.
More cookery features
This is the starting point for any visitor, the very heart of two great empires. Andrew Finkel explores a world of beauty and grandeur dusting itself down for a third millennium
From the morning of May 31, 1453, until his death twenty-eight years later, Sultan Mehmet II was fixated with re-creating and repopulating his newly acquired capital, Konstantiniyye. Historian Heath Lowry sheds light on the Ottoman Renaissance.
Past capital of empires, and heir to an uninterrupted urban tradition that stretches back millennia, Istanbul is all the tourist posters claim. Andrew Finkel traces its history.
Shopping has superficial connotations, but to set off into this city on a shopping expedition is to explore its culture in the most profound and fruitful way. Elizabeth Meath Baker provides an overview.
Not all Byzantium is buried: in addition to its twenty-odd surviving churches and sundry ruined palaces and fortifications, if you look around any grand imperial mosque, you will inevitably find columns, capitals and other marbles borrowed from its Byzantine predecessor. Robert Ousterhout investigates.
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