During the period until the 19th century the city covered the area within the Byzantine city walls and three neighbourhoods outside of it, the tiny "Galata", namely "Eyüp" and the Asian "Üsküdar" districts. Added to them during the 19th century are the Bosphorus villages and the Prince Islands. During the 20th century the city’s population of just one million grew to 14 millions. Naturally the old Istanbul is now a tiny part of the new city, but our choice of neighbourhoods are from the more interesting old parts of the city. You can click on the name of each place to see its location and its proximity to our hotel on the map.
Sultanahmet. Center of Byzantine and Ottoman Empire and the oldest part of Istanbul. Once a prominent Muslim neighbourhood, it is overwhelmed by tourism during the last decades. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985.
Kumkapı. Originally primarily populated by Armenians and being the site of the Turkish Armenian Patriarchate, the district is known with its fish restaurants, taverns and the lively atmosphere. The inhabitants today are a mix of immigrants.
Galata. The district with its own fortification walls was a Genoese trading colony during Byzantine times. Re-discovered in 90's, this trendy but rough-around-the-edges area is in a gentrification process and is home to many boutiques, art spaces and bars.
Karaköy. One of the historic districs and a transport hub, it was the main commercial quarter during the 19th century. Losing economic importence thereafter, the district nowadays is being transformed into a touristic and artistic neighbourhood.
"Old City". "Old City" covers the area within the Byzantine city walls built during the 5th century A.D. The city contour was kept the same until the 19th century- except the following three districts outside the walls: Eyüp, Galata and Üsküdar.
Fener & Balat. During the Ottoman period and then until 1950's, Fener and Balat neighbourhoods were respectively the most prominent Greek and Jewish districts of Istanbul. Both areas are now inhabited almost exclusively by newcomers from eastern Turkey.
Süleymaniye. This prominent Muslim neighbourhood of the Ottoman times, is undergoing a big restoration process sponsored by UNESCO.
Eyüp. The district at the Golden Horn just outside the city walls is an old Muslim neighbourhood and has the holiest site in the city: The mosque and tomb of Abu Ayyub, the companion and standard bearer of the Prophet Muhammad.
Samatya. Mostly inhabited by Armenians durign the Ottoman period until mid 20th century, replaced by people coming from South-east Anatolia later. The area has many notable churches, and monasteries and small restaurants serving rakı and mezes.
"Beyoğlu". Neighbouring to the historical Galata district, Beyoğlu emerged as an enlargement of the city during the 19th century. With its Parisian style apartment buildings, shops, hotels and restaurants it became the central scene of Turkish modernisation.
Asmalımescit . A lively tiny neighbourhood with narrow streets full with restaurants, bars and music venues. Two years ago, the decision of the local municpality forcing restaurants to stop putting tables onto the streets stirred a big controversy.
Cihangir. It is a residential neighbourhood close to the Istiklal Street, inhabited mostly by bohemians, intellectuals, artists and gays and is renowned with its cafés, bars, restaurants and with its liberal atmosphere.
"Bosphorus". The 30-km-long strait that forms the boundary between Europe and Asia. On both shores are the most beautiful and most expensive residential districts of Istanbul. A full cruise with a boat or a stroll along its shore is a must for every visitor the city.
Bebek. Probably the most prominent neighbourhood on the Bosphorus and is full of expensive waterside apartments, a small bay where yachts are anchored, fancy restaurants and quaint cafeterias which gets very busy especially during the weekends.
Kadıköy. A bustling commercial and transportation center. This populous, and untouristy district with its numerous bars, cinemas and bookshops, is the cultural centre of the Anatolian side. The market district, just inland from the docks, is also appealing.
Üsküdar. One of the three districts outside of the city walls during the Ottoman era, its history goes back to the Byzantine period. Two mosques by Sinan are worth visiting. Today the district is a populous conservative residential neighbourhood.
Kuzguncuk. It is a historic neighbourhood populated mostly by Jews expelled from Spain during the 15th century. Few remained of these two communities today. It is a quite, peaceful neighbourhood partially transformed into a bohemian enclave after 1980's.
Nişantaşı. A popular street shopping and residential district, it is considered to be one of Istanbul's exclusive neighbourhoods. The area includes brand name stores, popular stylish cafés and restaurants and the city's coolest shopping street: Abdi İpekçi.
Büyükada & Princes' Islands. Büyükada is the largest of islands, where wealthy Ottoman families built elaborate Victorian summer cottages. No private motor vehicles are allowed on any of the islands, everyone walks, or rides bicycles, or takes horse-drawn carriages