This beguiling district is home to the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar. Amid the thousands of shops that surround these centuries-old marketplaces are magnificent Ottoman mosques, historic hamams and atmospheric çay bahçesis (tea gardens) where locals smoke nargiles (water pipes) and play games of tavla (backgammon).
Beşiktaş & Ortaköy
Nineteenth-century French writer Pierre Loti described the stretch of the Bosphorus shore between Beşiktaş and Ortaköy as featuring 'a line of palaces white as snow, placed at the edge of the sea on marble docks'. Fortunately, his description remains as accurate as it is evocative. North of this palace precinct is the 'Golden Mile' running between Ortaköy and Kuruçeşme.
Üsküdar is a predominantly residential suburb that is best visited mid-week, when it is alive with locals shopping in its busy retail strips, gossiping with neighbours on street corners, fishing off the Bosphorus shore and worshipping in its architecturally magnificent mosques. On weekends (especially Sundays) it can be as quiet as the grave.