The uncommon Istanbul
Istanbul, the most famous city in Turkey, hides many curious and unknown places, outside the usual touristic path. The fame of Istanbul precedes it, and the same goes for some of its fascinating places of interest: Hagia Sophia, the Grand Bazaar, the Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque, the Basilica Cistern and the list goes on. At the same time, there are so many things to see in this city. Its history and legacy are so extensive that even the “lesser known” attractions are nevertheless internationally renowned. Let’s see some examples.
The Rüstem Pasha Mosque
Orient yourself in the maze of narrow streets to the west of the Egyptian Spice Market of Istanbul, and you will find a dark and winding stairway leading to an incredible place of worship. Built in 1563 by the great Mimar Sinan for the great vizier of the Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, this beautiful mosque, not usually visited by the crowd, is decorated with beautiful blue ceramic tiles of Iznik, whose beauty rivals that of the best known seventeenth-century Mosque, the Sultan Ahmed I Mosque, best known under the name of Blue Mosque.
Under the second bridge on the Bosphorus stands the eccentric Perili Köşk, literally the “Haunted House”, built in 1911 for a pasha. With its London style, with its red brick walls and its conical turret, it could easily appear in a horror movie. His nickname dates back to the years when he remained uncompleted, following the departure of most of the artisans, enlisted to fight in the First World War. The work on its nine floors was completed about a century later, and the house now serves as a corporate headquarters. It opens its own office, which houses the collection of the Borusan Center of Contemporary Art, with both permanent and temporary exhibitions, to the public at weekends.
Kasımpaşa & Bomonti Markets
Istanbul is rich in street markets and flea markets of all kinds, but two stand out from the others. The Kasimpasa Market on Sunday morning is held in a small street and there is a limited and special selection of meats, fruits, vegetables and mushrooms that are grown in the district of Kastamonu, in the Black Sea region, transported by sellers during the night, over 500 km away. The other noteworthy market is Bomonti’s organic market. Here you will find plenty of organic products and enjoy stimulating conversations with local intellectuals, eating freshly baked gözleme.
Patriarchal Church Of St George
Home of the Orthodox world as well as the house of the 270th successor of the Apostle Andrew is, surprisingly, a humble complex of buildings located in the Golden Horn, in the historic district of Fener. In the Cathedral of St. George, dating back to the seventeenth century, you can admire the beautiful altar covered in gold plates, with its important icons, and the relics of the greatest saints, kept in the narthex. From the fall of the Ottomans onwards, massive emigration took place for the Greek population of Istanbul. For this reason, today the Church is more than a symbolic center of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Nevertheless, Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the Orthodox world (which counts 300 million people), continues to serve here, and Orthodox Christians from Greece and all of Eastern Europe flow towards this Church as pilgrims. Stop for a break in the garden, very pleasant and full of friendly cats.
Eyüp Sultan Mosque
Cross the windy Golden Horn where parks and promenades line up to visit the holy district of Eyüp, named in honor of an officer of the army of Prophet Muhammad, who died during a siege of Istanbul and was buried here. The fifteenth-century Eyüp Sultan Mosque embraces the hill. It includes a large cemetery of high-stele tombs topped with turbans. To enjoy breathtaking views, go to the top of the Pierre Loti Cafe hill, named in memory of the famous novelist and naval officer. Loti wrote his novel Aziyadé (1876) right here, when it was still called Rabia Kadın Café.
Balıklı Rum Kilisesi Manastırı
Several Orthodox Greek patriarchs are buried in the inner courtyard of this variously decorated monastery, a sacred place for the people and a site of pilgrimage since the early days of the Byzantine Empire. It is now one of the many Orthodox Greek churches located around Istanbul that were established on the site of a sacred underground spring. It is said that the fish that populate the spring came through the miracle that would have resulted from the fall of Constantinople (hence the name of the monastery, which literally means “Church of Fishes”). Very interesting is the courtyard, which houses the ancient tombstones with inscriptions in Karamanli (Turkish written in the Greek alphabet).
A walk along the main street of Kuzguncuk, an ancient fishing village on the Asian shores of the Bosphorus Strait, offers a glimpse of the ethnic vision that was Istanbul a century ago. Two synagogues, three Orthodox Greek churches, two mosques and an Armenian church are inserted between the wooden houses of this small quarter of the nineteenth century. This village now houses art galleries, ateliers of artists, artisans and architects.
Among the huge buildings of İstiklal Avenue, the Mısır Apartment or Mısır Apartmanı, in the art-nouveau style, was built as a winter residence for the Egyptian chedivé during the early twentieth century. Today it is the only point of reference for half a dozen contemporary art galleries. Stroll to the foot of the hill to the street called Boğazkesen for many other art spaces, which connect with the district of Karaköy, where many galleries have emerged over the years. If so far you have not associated Istanbul with the incredible non-architectural variety of art now, surely, you can say that you know it better!
Where to Stay
Lampa Design Hotel is a popular choice amongst travelers in Istanbul, whether exploring or just passing through. Lampa Design Hotel welcomes you to explore Istanbul from the most ideal location, since the hotel is located in the vibrant neighborhood of Şişli, the city center of Istanbul. This hotel introduces a unique “boutique design hotel” experience with the warmth of the antique gas lamp and industrial minimalist architecture.
Lampa Design Hotel incorporates some of the antique gas lamps from Orhan Utan’s collection within a mixture of industrial modern design, natural wood parquet, marble staircases, cast- in mosaic and generous use of metal hardware. In addition, the art pieces and enchanting facade detail conceived by Architect Selami Çiçek add the finishing touches to this exquisitely devised hotel. All 20 different sized rooms of Lampa Design Hotel are designed with customized furniture, special amenities and the unique art pieces inspired by celebrated artist Fikret Mualla Saygı (1904-1967).
Guestrooms are designed to provide an optimal level of comfort with welcoming decor and some offering convenient amenities. Glass walled bathroom and French balcony detail in every room creates a spacious feeling in the rooms. Depending on the seasonal changes their comfortable duvet sets are being changed with special healthy quilts to create the best relaxing environment in the beds. The Lampa Lab is the place where guests can enjoy their delicious breakfast and afternoon coffee, with terrarium designs.