- What’s On
A ramshackle backwater of the city, the Golden Horn offers an unglamorous first impression. But its mysterious back streets, pretty churches and mosques, sacred springs and ruined city walls make it fascinating walking country.
The great 19th-century warehouses and factories along the Golden Horn, as in other industrial ports, are being gradually converted to new uses. For all this the neighbourhoods along the Golden Horn remain among the least altered parts of the city. The scale is small, with low houses painted in washes of turquoise, amber and peeling grey. It is a little untidy, with dillapidated houses, chickens, scruffy children, plenty of washing hanging overhead, and appearing here and there, remains of the city walls and the Byzantine ruins of the Blachernae. This is the gentlest part of the city, where you can discover forgotten sacred springs and old beer houses. It is a bit like the Rome depicted in the sketches of eighteenth-century French artists, a mine of incalculably important antiquity that continues to gather silt.
The European quarter. Home for centuries to diplomats, whores and clerics, Beyoglu was the elegant centre of the old cosmopolitan Istanbul. Today it thrives as Turkey’s answer to Soho - arty, tarty and smart by turns, and the place for a wild night out.
Bazaars and grand mosques. The grandeur of the city’s oldest quarter has a grainier side. Behind the Topkapi Palace and Ayasofya, the bazaars and the teeming streets that lead to them contain all manner of things to buy and restaurants to feast in.
To escape the clamour of the city Istanbul heads upstream to its coastal playground - for the leisurely rhythm of waterside villages, the smart summer nightclubs, the forested hinterland and, beyond the forests, the golden sands of the Black Sea.
Welcome to the smarter side of town. In Nisantasi you can shop till you drop - then dine out where the elite meet to eat. Here you will find haute couture, stylish shoes, opulent jewellery and fabulous furniture - both ancient and modern.
Ideal for an escape from the city life, the four islands are a refuge of tranquillity and calm where the pace of life is governed by the horse.
In 1928 David Talbot Rice, gentleman and scholar, and his new bride Tamara set off from Oxford to excavate the Great Palace of Byzantium. Tamara, an author of books on Seljuks and Scythians, talked to Anthony Bryer for this profile of the couple and their life together