Ortakoy neighborhood is located on the European part of Istanbul along the Bosphorus shore slightly further away from the main parts of the city. Ortakoy was originally a small fishing village with a mostly greek population during the Byzantine period until the Ottoman era when Sultan Suleiman encouraged Turks to move to the neighborhood. During the Ottoman era, Ortakoy was a cosmopolitan area where Turks, Greeks, Armenians, and Jewish people used to leave together, you can still visit the remaining synagogue and the churches from that time but today, most of the population in the neighborhood are Turkish and Muslim.
Where to stay and how to get to Ortakoy
If you wish to stay the night in the Ortakoy neighborhood you can try apartments and rooms on Airbnb or you can have the amazing experience of spending the night in a palace transformed into a hotel like the Ciragan palace or other mid-range and luxury hotels in the neighborhood.
What to do in Ortakoy
You can start your day in Ortakoy by having a delicious Turkish breakfast at one of the neighborhood’s famous cafes and walking around the neighborhood, shopping in the traditional markets, visiting art galleries and famous tourist spots, try some of the famous snacks of Ortakoy and even enjoy the night at some of Ortakoy’s famous nightclubs on the coast. You can even take some time and visit the Bebek neighborhood which is right next to Ortakoy.
Food in Ortakoy
Ortakoy is very well known for its beautiful cafes and delicious food and most importantly its famous signature snacks. The most famous snack you can find in Ortakoy is Kumpir, kumpir is made of a baked potato stuffed with cheesevegetablesle, meat, or any other thing you wish. You can find Kumpir stands from Ortakoy sea shores lined up to the main street where you can watch your food being cooked and enjoy eating it by the water with the beautiful view. If you plan on visiting Ortakoy, make sure to try their famous Kumpirs.
Spots to visit in Ortakoy
There are some interesting places in Ortakoy which are worth visiting. Here, we introduce the top seven spots in Ortakoy that are the best of its kind.
Beylerbeyi palace is one of the remaining Ottoman buildings in the Ortakoy neighborhood. The palace represents Neo-Baroque architecture. Sultan Abdulhamid II was imprisoned here until the end of his life and he carved some of the furniture in the palace during that time.
Ciragan palace is located on the Bosphorus coast, built in the year 1860 during the last years of the Ottoman era. Ciragan palace is transformed into a hotel and it also hosts weddings and ceremonies, you can’t go inside the palace if you are not staying there although you can still enjoy coffee in the courtyard of the palace.
You have probably seen the Ortakoy square in most tourists’ pictures before with the famous pigeons and the Ortakoy mosque and Bosphorus bridge in the background. Ortakoy square is one of the most popular spots in Ortakoy and Istanbul and you can even buy all kinds of handicrafts from stalls around the square.
Mecidiye mosque, famously known as the Ortakoy mosque was built in the 19th century during the late Ottoman period and represents Neo-Baroque and Neo-Classical architecture with Ottoman traditional designs. The Ortakoy mosque is one of Istanbul’s most beautiful buildings, looking from the outside the building seems to be floating on water and the interior is also decorated with Ottoman designs and elements.
Agios Fokas orthodox church
Agios Fokas or Ayios Fokas church is a greek orthodox church that was built in 1856 during the Byzantine period. This church is one of Ortakoy’s most famous historical buildings. You can see the church on the main street of Ortakoy.
Etz Ahayim synagogue
Etz Ahayim synagogue is one of the most important and famous synagogues in Turkey. This synagogue dates back to the 14th century and has been rebuilt several times, the last time the building was rebuilt was in 1941 and has stayed the same since then. The name of the synagogue, Etz Ahayim means tree of life.
Esma Sultan yalisi
The Esma Sultan yalisi was gifted in the 18th century as a wedding gift to Esma Sultan, the daughter of Sultan Abdulaziz, the Ottoman emperor. This house was one of the most beautiful architectural designs of its time. Unfortunately, in 1920 a fire destroyed most of the building’s structure and after that, the building was used as a warehouse until it was purchased and restored in 1990. Today, the building serves as hotel and hosts events.