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Neighbourhood ISTANBUL

A boutique hotel in a neoclassical bank, Ottoman houses that double as cool canteens, and flea markets full of curios — this city on the banks of the Bosphorus marries East and West to startling effect. Words: James Draven
ILLUSTRATION: KERRY HYNDMAN

Spanning Europe and Asia, Istanbul has always been a major hub, for travellers and traders alike, from its incarnations as the ancient shipping port of Byzantium, the Silk Road stop of Constantinople, and the terminus of the iconic Orient Express.

Although officially secular since 1928, silhouettes of minarets are still around, and most visitors don’t venture beyond the sights of Sultanahmet. Beyond the neighbourhood, Istanbul is one of Europe’s most populous cities, home to nearly 15 million residents, and while much of its suburban sprawl consists of identikit modern Asian architecture, there are districts replete with Parisian parlours, artistic enclaves, and offbeat treats to be found just a stone’s throw from the centre.

NEIGHBOURHOOD

One of Istanbul’s heritage red trams; interior of Hikmet Mizanoğlu Arts & Antiques
IMAGES: GETTY; JAMES DRAVEN
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About National Geographic Traveller (UK)

From ancient villages to stories from the locals, we uncover some of the Aegean Sea’s most gleaming pearls as we island-hop across the paradise idylls of Greece’s Cyclades. Elsewhere, we discover authentic Maori culture in New Zealand; wind our way along the Volga in Russia; and spend a long weekend in Tunis. Our urban highlights this issue include Istanbul, Lisbon, Mumbai and Bordeaux while our photo story introduces the freedivers of Jeju Island in South Korea.