Cry, the beloved city

Setting the scene

  • The view from Beyoğlu, 1773. Antoine de Favray's panoramic view of the Serağlio Point, now in the Pera Museum

This sweeping panorama of Istanbul, painted in the 1770s by the Chevalier Antoine de Favray, and a key work in the collection of the Pera Museum, shows the familiar landmarks of Istanbul, many of them still visible today. Leander’s Tower, or the Maiden’s Tower (Kız Kulesi), where the Bosphorus flows into the Sea of Marmara, is remarkably unchanged. On the European side we see the perky turreted domes of the Tophane Foundry, where cannons were made for the Ottoman fleet, and nearby the Kılıç Ali Pasha Mosque, completed by Sinan in his nineties. Most of all, it shows the unchanged glories of Seraglio Point (Sarayburnu): the Topkapı, Ayasofya, the Blue Mosque. 

Like other Western artists, de Favray is thought to have painted his panorama from the safety of the European embassies in Pera, in particular the Russian Palace, whose gardens appear in the foreground.  These days the views can be enjoyed at leisure from countless restaurants, notably the new Divan on İstiklâl Caddesi or the Leb-i Derya in Kumbaracı Yokuşu. But a few minutes’ walk from the Pera Museum you can find an unrivalled vantage point.

Go early on a Sunday to beat the rush for what has been the greatest vista of the greatest city in the world since it was built by the Genoese in 1348. The Galata Tower, begun 70-odd years after the Tower of Pisa, is very much open to the public, and has kept its stunning outlooks…

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