Arnavutkoy – a village on the Bosphorus

Named after the Albanian (Arnavut) builders brought to Istanbul by Sultan Abdülmescid in the 19th century to lay sidewalks in the city, Arnavutköy is home to beautiful wooden houses, many of them lining the Bosphorus waterside. The original population was a mix of Turks and Albanians, and there was a large community of Greeks and Jews but today only a few Greeks remain.

Arnavutkoy - must see former Albanian village in Istanbul

Wooden Ottoman houses lining the waterfront at Arnavutkoy.

This delighful seaside façade acts as an enticement to explore the streets behind. Many of the grand old homes in this suburbs boast Art Nouveau designs, although most of the ornate naturalistic whimsies are believed to have been added to existing buildings.


One exception can be found in Dulkadıroğulları Sokak, where an architect designed house showcases the best of Turkish Art Nouveau.

IMG_0516Inland, behind the simple Tevfikiye Mosque and reached by traversing narrow tree-lined cobblestone streets that make you feel as though you are in a country village, is the 19th century Taksiarkhes Church. Built on the site of earlier churches, the large plain square building houses the most extraordinary dome painted deep evening blue. The expanse of heaven is scattered with glistening stars which reflect the gold leaf of the imposing iconostasis which forms the screen between the nave and the sanctuary. The icons forming this wall are housed in elaborate frames and hold notes, gold and other offerings from grateful worshippers. Underfoot lies a crypt where former residents were buried. It is forbidden to photograph inside the church and I doubt an ordinary camera could do justice to the extraordinarily ethereal quality of the interior.




These are just a few highlights from this lovely neighbourhood. If you visit in spring make a day of it by visiting nearby Emirgan Park in April for the annual Tulip Festival or if you come in winter, plan your day around lunch or dinner in Arnavutköy or the nearby and very upmarket suburb of Bebek.




If you enjoyed this post, check out my “Discover Istanbul” category in the Categories drop down menu on the right hand side towards the top of this page. I’m sure it’ll inspire to you to go exploring!


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About Goreme1990

I’m Lisa Morrow, the person behind I was born in Sydney, Australia and grew up a leafy middle class North Shore suburb. After finishing high school I went to Sydney University but failed to find my niche. After working as a public servant, cleaner, sales assistant, waitress, bar maid and car counter, I went overseas. Once there I hitchhiked through the UK, travelled in Europe and arrived in Turkey just as the Gulf War was starting. My three months stay in the small central Anatolian village of Göreme changed my life. On my return to Australia I earned a BA Honours Degree in Sociology from Macquarie University. An academic career beckoned but the call to travel was louder. After several false starts I moved to Turkey and lived there for ten years. In 2017 I moved to Lisbon, Portugal, but continue to travel regularly to Istanbul. In addition to my blog I've written a travel narrative memoir called "Waiting for the Tulips to Bloom: Adrift in Istanbul" and two collections of essays, "Inside Out In Istanbul: Making Sense of the City" and "Exploring Turkish Landscapes: Crossing Inner Boundaries". I have a regular segment on San Francisco Turkish radio and in early 2017 I released an audio walking tour called "Stepping back through Chalcedon: Kadikoy Walk", through VoiceMap. In addition I write for various international and Australian magazines and websites, as well as for this blog. A full list of my published articles, with links, can be found on the Writing on Turkey and Writing Beyond Turkey pages.
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6 Responses to Arnavutkoy – a village on the Bosphorus

  1. Julia says:

    Thanks Lisa, I really enjoyed that.

    These buildings are so beautiful and it’s great to see them being cared for.

  2. BacktoBodrum says:

    Let’s hope the district doesn’t get razed to build more shopping malls

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