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Surrounded by pine trees in the district of Üsküdar, Kuzguncuk feels like entering the perfect time capsule. One of the few places to have preserved a traditional ‘mahalle’ feel, the area has avoided new construction that has changed much of the city’s skyline elsewhere.
The area once housed Greek, Armenian and Jewish populations and therefore is still home to synagogues, orthodox cemeteries and church steeples. Wander the streets and you’ll see a mesh of locals (made up of artists, writers, wealthy home-renovators and old-school locals) mingling in the cobbled streets and sipping tea under magnolia and blossom trees. As is expected in any real ‘mahalle’, the locals (and street cats) seem all to be on first-name terms with one another.
The brightly-coloured wooden yali’s, twee side-streets and leafy nooks attract filming crews, keen to capture the old essence of Istanbul.
If you’re feeling fit you can climb the many steep roads nearby, which lead to ravishing views of the Bosphorus and European side. But if not, a vegetable allotment (‘Bostan’) and park area provides the perfect relaxation area for anyone desperate for some respite from the hectic and heaving city.
Definitely worth a visit if you’re looking to while away the time on a sunny afternoon.