Of course, the silhouette of domes and minarets along the historical skyline serves notice that you could be nowhere else on earth (writes Andrew Finkel in the new Cornucopia). But Istanbul’s greatness derives from something else: something so obvious that it is (literally) overlooked – the river that runs through it.
Well, it’s not a river; it is a strait – a passageway from the warm waters of the Aegean to the chilly Black Sea. And it was carved out not by man but by nature, the result, some academics would have it, of the Biblical flood.
Famously, it is the Maginot Line between Asia and Europe, East and West. It has been a pinch point in history, the subject of myth, and the last refuge for those fleeing the damage man continues to wreak on the fabric of the city. On a moonlit night, the waters are still achingly beautiful, a black mirror reflecting our triumphs and our follies, and the reason why some visitors to Istanbul never leave.
But it can also be heart-wrenching. Maureen Freely looks back with her father, John Freely, on the Bosphorus of her childhood: “Sometimes I wonder what it’s done to us, to have known the Bosphorus before the city swallowed it up. Sometimes it seems as if I spend my life clinging to whatever remnant I can find. Sometimes, when I return after a long absence, the only things I notice, and with burning fury, are the things that deface the memories I carry with me, everywhere I go.”
Part Three of our Istanbul Unwrapped quartet is a 224-page celebration of a fast-disappearing Bosphorus – its enduring pleasures and its vanishing treasures lavishly illustrated throughout with photographs by Fritz von der Schulenburg, Brian McKee, Jürgen Frank, Berrin Torolsan, Monica Fritz and two great 20th-century Istanbul photographers Selahattin Giz and Cafer Türkmen.
Maureen Freely goes ‘Bosphorising’ with her father, John Freely, in search of her treasured childhood in Istanbul. Could it be that it was all so simple then?
Turn your back on the Old City and make for the water. Andrew Finkel takes a drive along the Bosphorus’s lower shore: from the half-abandoned docks of Karaköy, past mammoth cruise ships and hangars for modern art, to the palaces of Beşiktaş and Ortaköy
Andrew Finkel extols the charms of a trip up the western, European, shore of the Bosphorus, whether by water or by road
Over 56 pages, we cross the Bosphorus to explore the lower reaches of the Asian shore. Sailing past the ruins of stately Haydarpaşa Station, we land at the busy Kadıköy docks, wander round Moda’s old cosmopolitan backwaters and head upstream to the sparkling hilltop mosques of Üsküdar
Continuing our tour of Bosphorus villages, we cross back to a more untamed Asian shore. Heading upstream again, we start in Beylerbeyi and Çengelköy, with their grand views of the Old City, and make for the fortress of Anadoluhisari, where the Bosphorus narrows and the yalis are at their most captivating. Our journey ends on the hilltop of Anadolukavağı, with the Black Sea in our sights
The potato was a latecomer to Turkish cookery, but today it is hard to imagine life without it. The humble spud, the ultimate in comfort food, is endlessly versatile,and also comes packed with goodness. Berrin Torolsan serves up some favourite dishes
Lovely churches, a lively market, enticing ice cream, shady cafés… and they called this the land of the blind. Andrew Finkel introduces Kadıköy, and Harriet Rix mooches around the district of Moda. Photographs by Monica Fritz
ISTANBUL UNWRAPPED: The Quartet
The definitive guide to the changing city, in four fabulous issues, with articles by people who have long loved it, and glorious photographs that show it at its best.
Issue 50: The Sultan’s City
Issue 51: Beyoğlu Boogie
Issue 52: Bosphorus Requiem
Issue 53: The Princes Islands
Price: £45 – save on the cover price of £56
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