Guide to SKOPJE

Ortaköy – It’s time for pleasure while facing the Bosphorus

It is winter in Istanbul... Occasionally, as if it is in a hurry to enter the new year… Shrewish, cold winds of december stroke Ortaköy with love, which is one of the pearl shores of the city in the middle of the Bosphorus in the city’s European side… Ortaköy is a hidden paradise that is so much in front of the eyes for fans of Istanbul and is just as much in the most intense point of the city…a romantic and energetic face of the ever living city.

Ortaköy-Mosque1-1024x768If you can get over the intense traffic of the city, while moving down through the alleys from the main street to the shore, the large and small shops, boutiques seen around are indispensable stops for many people.  Along the street and shore, there are rows of budget-friendly restaurants, cafes, bars… Art markets, open-air stalls displaying all kinds of novelties along the narrow alley going down to the shore are just like a riot of colour. Along the short road, various souvenirs representing Istanbul, colour lambs, evil eye beads, lace covers attracting everyone young and old alike, whether a tourist or a local, are displayed in shops or open-air stalls.

When you arrive in the small square of Ortaköy, let yourself go and turn around yourself for 180 degrees. Let the flaring view of the Bosphorus stretching towards the Asian coast surround you. On one side, Great Mecidiye Mosque, commonly known as Ortaköy mosque, mixes with blue of the Bosphorus with its delicate and imposing stance that defies the years. The spectacular structure was completed in 1853. Ortakoy is like a silent witness of history ranging from Byzantine to Ottoman Empire and to modern Turkey. Greek Orthodox Church of Agios Fokas, Etz Ahayim Synagogue, Ortakoy Mosque… They are aligned as if they prove rich culture and colourful pattern of different faiths…

When you look towards the mosque from the tiny Ortaköy Square, the image of Bosphorus Bridge coupling Asia and Europe is impressive…Especially, that sparkle of the specially lighted up bridge reflected on the Bosphorus…The waves hitting the shore look as if they tell the soul of Istanbul…From time to time, wavy, combative or calm, they rub shoulders with the sun’s light games…Ortaköy is like the heart of Istanbul, just like it, it is always surprising, far from being monotonous… At the other end of the shore, Esma Sultan Mansion from the 18th century takes our attention. The structure, named after Abdulhamid the 1st’s daughter, Esma Sultan, was renovated long after the fire that had left it with four walls in the 1900s, and nowadays hosts majestic events and organizations.

Esma Sultan Palace, Istanbul

Ortaköy is famous for its budget-friendly cafes, tea gardens where those who welcome the first lights of the morning can have a nice breakfast. You may take your book, newspaper and have a sumptuous breakfast or enjoy the pleasure of inseparable classical double tea and Turkish-style crispy pretzels…

While sipping your hot salep (drink made from sahlep root in hot milk and cinnamon)  or Turkish coffee in winter cold, watch blue riot of colour of the Bosphorus, take deep breaths and let your sorrows, if any, to the depths of the Bosphorus, clean your insides… Whisper your hopes to the harsh or warm wind hitting your face…  Who knows, maybe today you may feel the invigorating breezes of the winds brought by the Black Sea.

The alley leading to the other end of the street welcomes you with a line of jacket potato sellers… Each shop tries to impress customers with hand skills as if it offers a taste very different from the others.  During the chat, you may find that many colourful images have emerged from that simple baked potato and that many different ingredients, from cheese varieties to corn, sausage, olives have come together with the potato.

As the hours chase the day towards the night, the energy in the region steadily grows and music from cafes, bars spreads around. With the effect of smoking ban, the tables overflowing to the alleys become more and more filled. Those who want to give a short break after work, university students, and strict followers of Istanbul’s nightlife and of course the tourists who flock to see 24 hours of the city are the region’s indispensable figures.

When you go up to the street from Ortaköy square and proceed towards Beşiktaş, historical buildings welcome you along the shore.  Feriye restaurant with its Ottoman-era building, where traditional flavours as well as samples from a variety of cuisine and quality service are offered, Ciragan Palace which is a 5-star hotel converted from an Ottoman palace after having been expanded today and further on Four Season Hotel are important cornerstones of the region. If you proceed from Ortaköy towards Bebek, another important district of Bosphorus, many famous night clubs, bars, restaurants, where you can see Istanbul’s colourful night life, are waiting for you. Of course, if you are sitting pretty. Historic district of Ortakoy continues to shine 24 hours a day with its colourful, energetic, cosmopolitan structure.

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