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Since childhood, when she and her cousin Rifat Özbek were taken by their mothers to scour the antique markets of Galata, Zyenep Fadillioğlu has had an eye for the theatrical. First her flamboyant architectural finds appeared in her husband Meto’s smart Club 29. Now they add drama to her clients’ interiors. Her own house in Istanbul, seen here for the first time, is a brilliant showpiece for her eclectic flair. By John Welshman. Photographs: Mirjam Bleeker. Styled by Frank Visser
On a Friday night the taxi could not get anywhere near the door of Ulus 29, Meto and Zeynep Fadillioğlu’s panoramic rotunda restaurant overlooking the Bosphorus Bridge. Forced to pick my way uphill through the mesh of tightly parked sports cars, I found the inside equally packed, with glamorous and powerful guests at every table. Ulus 29 has all the liveliness and panache of its creators.
The following Sunday the Fadillioğlus invited me to brunch at their home high above the Büyükdere quays on the upper reaches of the Bosphorus. This again involved a steep climb up a hilly road that winds up and away from the Bosphorus through a grid of narrow streets of nineteenth-century houses that once belonged to Greek and Armenian communities whose churches and schools still survive.
Standing opposite the former dwelling of an Armenian priest, the Fadillioğlus’ solid stone house was bought in 1985 from another Armenian family, headed by a notable watchmaker. The building forms the long facade of an L-shaped complex, ingeniously created by restoring and incorporating an adjacent Ottoman wooden house.
Anatolia’s new peat gatherers follow a rugged, self-sufficient way of life. But they are taking their toll on the rare flowers of the Turkish moors.
Wherever he went in search of books on Turkey for his collection, Omer Koç was dismayed to find that the mysterious Mr Atabey had been there before him. Then, in an apartment in Paris, all was revealed: the world’s most magnificent collection of volumes on the Ottoman Empire and the Levant - a veritable treasure trove of beautiful books.
Iskenderun and Aleppo were once vital trading posts of the Ottoman Empire. Today they straddle a border and are raffish outposts worthy of Graham Greene. Amicia de Moubray accompanied Iskenderun’s Honorary British Consul on a whistle-stop tour of the two cities. She discovered the legacy of liquorice and the East’s most enticing bazaar.
In the seventeenth century, Evliya Çelebi, the Ottoman traveller, praised the size of the pumpkins of Varna on the Black Sea: a single fruit could weigh up to 60kg. Today in the Balkans, the custom is to slice off the stem end of a ripe pumpkin, scoop out its seeds and pour honey into the cavity. The top is then replaced like a lid and the pumpkin baked in the oven.
More cookery features
Veterans of the Peking-to-Paris rally know that if you can nurse your car across the deserts, mountains and yak tracks of the great Asian landmass and reach Istanbul in one piece, the final leg on Europe’s roads should be a cruise. Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, an entrant in this year’s 90th anniversary event, sent home a diary of his - and others’ - adventures on this 12,000 mile marathon from Peking to Paris.
High on a honey-coloured Cappadocian hillside, a remarkable Frenchman set himself the challenge of restoring the crumbling stone houses in the village of Uçhisar. Today, lovingly brought back to life, they stand tall once again. David Barchard was bewitched. Photographs: Sigurd Kranendonk
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