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Poor Emirgan: pretty mosque, noble plane tree, swimming (for the hardy), tulip displays, fab museum, pretty streets, polite locals, boat station. Now everyone’s at the mercy of the parking valets; the old-fashioned café is no more; and as many as 20,000 visitors pour in at weekends.
Emirgan is the first proper village north of the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge on the European shore of the Bosphorus. To reach it as you go north along the Bosphorus you pass first the valley of Baltalimanı, then Boyacıköy, which is really just part of Emirgan. The village itself covers a low headland jutting out between Baltalimanı and İstinye, with wonderful views across the Bosphorus to Kanlıca opposite and the broad bay of Beykoz to the north. Magical terraced tea gardens once climed the hillside but they were squeezed out by apartments. There is, however, a lovely view from the woods of the Emirgan Korusu.
The most celebrated spot used to be the little square known as Çınaraltı, once a famous literary rendez vous, now a battleground of aggressive pudding shops, but still very pleasant on a weekday morning, with the sun reflecting up into the branches of the eponymous plane trees, a delightful fountain and yalı–like mosque. It is worth strolling over the hill to the park.
Now the main reason to visit is the world-class Sakıp Sabancı Museum.
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