Ortaköy (Middle Village) is a charming waterside suburb with church, synagogue and mosque surrounding a jumble of Ottoman buildings renovated as stylish boutiques, bars and eateries. On balmy nights the restaurants and cafés lining the teeny cobbled square by the water overflow with locals enjoying tea, a fish meal and some of the city’s best people-watching.
Right on the water’s edge, the decorative Ortaköy Camii (Büyük Mecidiye Camii) is the work of Nikoğos Balyan, one of the architects of Dolmabahçe Palace. A strange mix of baroque and neoclassical influences, it was designed and built for Sultan Abdülmecit III in 1853–55. With the supermodern Bosphorus Bridge looming behind it, the mosque provides the classic photo opportunity for those wanting to illustrate İstanbul’s ‘old meets new’ character. On the Bosphorus Bridge side of the mosque is an excellent (by İstanbul standards) children’s playground and a handful of second-hand book stalls (with titles in English, German and French).
Try to time your visit for Sunday, when the bustling street market fills the cobbled lanes. Early risers make it for breakfast, then pick through the market’s beaded jewellery, hats, and other crafty trinkets, before heading home around midday to avoid the afternoon traffic crush.
To get here catch bus Nos DT1, 40, 40T from Taksim Sq or bus No 25E from Eminönü (get off at the Kabataş Lisesi bus stop). If you’re coming from Sultanahmet, you could catch the tram to Kabataş, and then jump on bus No 25E or catch a taxi (€3) the rest of the way to Ortaköy.