Ortakoy used to be a small fishing village and now is the meeting point of Istanbul residents with its animated streets full of cafés, restaurants, bars and night clubs. Each season Ortakoy is the most visited venue and always is animated. It is the perfect neighbourhood where landmarks of Istanbul, the historical tissue, good cuisines, and contemporary entertainment intersects. If you are into discovering Ortakoy more than a monotonous visit, here’s what you should do.
Venues to Visit in Ortakoy
First thing to do in Ortakoy is to visit the square and the seaside. You can see people feeding the pigeons on the square and may be enjoy a fish dish in one of the restaurants on the seaside or you can just sit and appreciate the beautiful view of the Bosporus. One of Istanbul’s exquisite architectures Ortakoy Mosque is located there. It is on the sea coast of Ortakoy and one of the symbols on the silhouette of Istanbul. It is also observable from the Bosporus bridge and is the landmark of Ortakoy. It is built in baroque style, captivating with its thin and graceful minarets and outer decorations. You can see the most beautiful examples of stone carving inside. Next stop is Esma Sultan Mension placed right next to the mosque. It was built as a present from Sultan Abdulaziz to Esma Sultan as a wedding gift. Now it is serving as a hotel hosting many events and is worth seeing.
Ortakoy is in the middle of a triangle of a church, a synagogue and a mosque like an intersection of three religions indicating that religious practices of different religions were tolerated. It is always a good idea to visit one or two churches to understand the consciousness of the people of the places you visit on religion. There are churches and synagogues from the Byzantium period remaining until today. One of them is Ayios Fokas, a Rum Orthodox Church, building still remains from 1856. Surp Krikor Lusavoric Armeninan Catholic Church form 1839 and the synagogue remaining from 14th century, Etz Ahayim can be seen.
Istanbul is a city of palaces and one of the most exquisite of them is Ciragan Palace. It is by far the most famous one. The palace used to host the Ottoman dynasty and now is hosting many balls, gatherings and meetings under the name of Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul five-star hotel. There are many famous ones like Ciragan so if you are specifically wondering the palaces of Istanbul you should also see Topkapi Palace. Then there are the palaces along the coast of Ciragan Street namely Feriye Palaces. These palaces now belong to educational institutions such as Kabatas High School and one of them is Feriye Lokatasi, a restaurant. Ortakoy Hamami may also be one of your spots while you are exploring Ortakoy venue, since it is one of the Turkish bath buildings and is the work of Mimar Sinan. It is no longer the place to take a Turkish bath but serves as a restaurant or a space for various meetings.
So far you have seen so many architectural marvels of Istanbul gathered in one place now it is time to explore one a little bit different than the rest. It is Bulgurcu Street containing 18 identical houses lining side to side. During Ottoman Empire time, Rums, Armenians, Muslims and Jews all lived together in Ortakoy. These are houses specifically of Jews. Some say that these are the houses built for the constructors of Ciragan Palace. It would be interesting to take pictures on this street. For further examining and exploring the architectural marvels of Istanbul there are tours for Istanbul’s classic architectures.
Where to Eat in Ortakoy
Best way to start your day in an energetic way is to have a grand breakfast, there are places to have a good Turkish breakfast in Ortakoy, such as Ortakoy Firini. Ortakoy is the hometown of kumpir which is a food made out of a large roasted potato filled with cheese, butter and ingredients of the eater’s choosing. There are so many kumpir places lined up side by side for you to choose from, where you can take out your kumpir and eat on Ortakoy seaside. On an Ortakoy, trip kumpir is one of the musts to try of. Ortakoy House Café is also very popular because it has both the view of the Bosporus Bridge and the beautiful Ortakoy Mecidiye Mosque one after the other. At the same time, you can watch ferries coming and going from the pier of Ortakoy since the restaurant is seafront. If you are looking for a fancier and maybe more romantic place on a rooftop to eat with the view of Bosporus, you might as well go to Banyan Restaurant which is famous for its Asian food. For a more peaceful place to rest your head Café Bosphorus might be the one for you. It is ideal for reading a book or having good conversations with your friends. For traditional Turkish dishes, Harbi Adana Ocakbasi with its kebabs, Bizce Ortakoy Kurufasulyecisi with its haricot bean dish and Park Fora with fish meals should be good.
Nightlife in Ortakoy
If you want to spend your night dancing and having fun Ortakoy has the best places for night entertainment. The most popular and decent night clubs of good quality in Istanbul are located in this region. Almost all of the night clubs and restaurants are seafront since Ortakoy is a coast. Sortie is the largest therefore the most spacious of the night clubs in Istanbul, has a magnificent sea view and opens up the roof on summer. It is roomy, fresh and elegant as well. Sortie also has restaurants so you might dine first then move straight to the night club section. Ruby is also roomy, serves delicious food and, of course, is seafront. Angelique is in a three floor waterside and plays different genre of music on every floor, has amazing view. If you follow the coast of the sea to Kurucesme area which is right next to Ortakoy, there are even more options. Club Album is known for its playlist of famous Turkish pop songs and has the bridge view as well. Every Tuesday and Friday night there are percussion shows bringing a new aspect to Turkish music. Blackk, Noir and Majesteux are also popular night clubs in Ortakoy. These clubs are all full on Saturday nights and probably on Friday nights as well but these two are the days you will have the most fun on a night out in Istanbul. After a tiring but very enjoyable night you might want to spend your night at a nearby hotel. For easily experiencing the depths of Ortakoy the best option is to stay at a hotel in Ortakoy.