The best 10 book sets in Istanbul

Istanbul is an inspiring city with its amazing landmarks, natural beauty and the Bosphorus that inspired lots of songs, paintings, photographs and books.

Here are the best 10 books set in Istanbul...


Hilary Sumner-Boyd and John Freely, Strolling through Istanbul: A Guide to the City, 1972

"So the visitor is advised to stroll to the Galata Bridge for his first view of the city. But you should do your sight-seeing there as do the Stamboullus, seated at a teahouse or a café on the lower level of the Bridge … looking out along the Golden Horn to where it meets the Bosphoros and the Sea of Marmara." 

Edmondo de Amicis, Constantinople, 1878

"One of the most splendid bazaars is for shoes … The walls are stacked with slippers; in velvet, in leather, in brocade, in satin, in the most startling colours and the oddest shapes, embroidered with filigree, glittering with sequins, decorated with swansdown and silk tassels, starred with flowers in gold and silver" 

Yaşar Kemal, The Birds Have Also Gone, 1978

"Taksim is the most populous part of the town. Wouldn't there be some, among the crowds that always throng the square, just a few with still a modicum of humanity who, for a trifling sum, will take pride and joy in setting little birds free. Such a sight it is when those birds soar joyously up into the sky …" 

Orhan Pamuk, Istanbul, 2003

"The beauty I see in Süleymaniye Mosque is in its lines, in the elegant space beneath its dome … Even four hundred years after it was built, I can look at Süleymaniye and see a mosque still standing in its entirety, just as it did, and see it as it was meant to be seen."

Ahmet Hamdi Tanipar, A Mind at Peace, 1949

"Çadircilar Street was bewildering as always. On the ground before a shop whose grate usually remained shuttered, waiting for who knows what, were a Russian-made samovar spigot, a doorknob, the remnants of a lady's mother-of-pearl fan so much the fashion thirty years ago, a few random parts belonging perhaps to a largish clock or gramophone …"

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, The Turkish Embassy Letters, 1837

"A palace of prodigious extent, but very irregular, the gardens a large compass of ground full of high cypress trees … the buildings all of white stone, leaded on top, with gilded turrets and spires, which look very magnificent, and indeed I believe there is no Christian king's palace half so large." 

Elif Şafak, The Bastard of Istanbul, 2006

"The tavern was a stylish but convivial place near the Flower Passage. As soon as they sat, two waiters appeared with a cart of mezes … 'yalanci sarma, tourshi, patlijan, topik, enginar,' Armanoush started naming the dishes the waiters were leaving on the table." 

Philip Mansel, Constantinople: City of the World's Desire, 1453-1924, 1995

"Yildiz was a museum-complex and industrial park as well as a palace and government compound … The Sultan's personal photography laboratory, library and carpentry workshop revealed his favourite forms of relaxation: he was a skilled carpenter who made desks for his daughters and walking sticks for wounded soldiers."

Mustafa Ziyalan and Amy Spangler (editors), Istanbul Noir, 2008

"In her youth, Cemile Abla used to love to walk to Bebek and get a cherry-vanilla ice-cream cone, sit on a park bench with a dog-eared Sait Faik book, and just relax. But nowadays, in front of the ice-cream stands stood long lines of bronze, blond-haired girls, pot-bellied boys, and odd, shaggy dogs …"

Jim Hinks and Gul Turner (editors), The Book of Istanbul: A City in Short Fiction, 2010

"My steps took me to Yeldeğirmen … I started to wander through the narrow streets. Washing was drying on lines hung between opposite buildings. Sheets, stockings, underwear, shirts, black primary school aprons were hanging side by side, as if protecting the banished soul of the neighbourhood."

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