We love Ortaköy, once a separate village on the edge of the Bosphorus.
We love Ortaköy, once a separate village on the edge of the Bosphorus with a mainly Greek and Jewish population, now part of the Beşiktaş district of Istanbul, with a famous small mosque and the first Bosphorus bridge as two of its claims to fame.
The baroque mosque is Mecidiye Camii built for Sultan Abdülmecit in 1854 by Nikogos Balyan the architect who also designed Dolmabah棠Palace.
Ortaköy also has a hamam built by Sinan in the 1570s, a functioning Greek Orthodox church built in 1872 to replace a much older one, and a synagogue erected in 1913, but these days it is best known as a local arts and crafts centre.
The area between the main road and the Bosphorus is a maze of narrow streets, lined with restored Ottoman houses containing shops, bars and cafes with stalls on the streets offering hand made items and bric a brac – plus the occasional seller of secondhand books.
You can easily spend a couple of hours pottering around the stalls and, when you get hungry, try Ortaköy’s speciality snack of an enormous baked potato with countless toppings.
There are baked potato sellers everywhere all vying to offer the biggest range of toppings.
If you have time you can cross the main road and wander around the back streets inland where there are other interesting shops.
Getting to and from Ortaköy is easy even if you are staying in Sultan Ahmet.
Take the tramway to the end of the line at Kabataş, then either walk along the road – keeping the Bosphorus on your right, passing Dolmabah棠Palace and walking through Beşiktaş – until you reach Ortaköy.
The whole walk is around 4km but there are interesting views all the way.
Alternatively hop in a taxi at Kabataş and get to Ortaköy for under 10YTL.
Or use the tramway. Note that the cost of a jeton for the trams is 1.40YTL.