- What’s On
North of the Golden Horn, with Taksim Square as its hub, this is where art, entertainment, business and fashion are based, from bohemian Beyoğlu and cool Cihangir to upmarket Nişantaşı and high-rise Levent and soccer-crazy Beşiktaş, plus the big hotels and embassies. Beyoğlu Boogie, The European City, is the second part of 'Istanbul Unwrapped' (Cornucopia 51)
Beyoğlu, the old European quarter, sprawls across the hills above the old quays and warehouses facing Topkapı Palace at the entrance to the Golden Horn. This is where Levant merchants and diplomats created Istanbul’s European city.
The old Galata docks extended from Mehmed the Conqueror’s shipyard on the Golden Horn to Tophane. At the centre of the district today is Karaköy, the busy square which opens on to the Galata Bridge.
Karaköy, at the head of the Galata Bridge, is at the heart of Istanbul’s old docks. On one side lies Tophane, Istanbul’s trendy new arts district, on the other the incomparable hardware district. Enjoy it while you can.
The cool end of the docks: from grime and crime to high art, hedonism and café society, the northern end of the Galata docks is enjoyed a magical transformation in the last decade but is still, happily, laced with old-fashioned grit.
Beyoğlu’s residential other half has a bohemian air with lanes full of neighbourhood cafés and restaurants. It includes the Çukurcuma antiques district, where Orhan Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence turns ephemera into a new art form.
Once an Ottoman pleasure ground, now arguably the Republic's swishest district, with long views over a park across the Bosphorus.
The back end of Şişli, but definitely up and coming, witih Babylon Bomonti, Istanbul's leading music club opening in the old Bomonti Brewery. Good flea market on Sundays and organic market on Saturdays. On his 90th birthday, April 16, 2018, the Ara Gulur Museum opened at Bomontiada to house the photographer's archives and display his work.
Lively Beşiktaş is where the Bosphorus begins. This former working-class town has a long naval history and a fine museum with a fabulous collection of royal caiques, reviewed in Cornucopia 50.
Ortaköy is as close as Istanbul comes to Venice, with a seaside square with a row of now rather too established cafés, a 19th-century ballroom of a mosque, a decent jazz club and an excellent kilim shop.
New additions to Istanbul are the soaring towers, glass lobbies and trading floors of Levent - formerly rolling countryside. But nostalgia aside, there are things to enjoy in this most boomtown metropolis – including good classical concerts (İş Sanat)