buyukdere3Today few foreign visitors make it as far up the Bosphorus as the pleasant suburb of Büyükdere, but once upon a time this was one of those places which was once home to summer retreats kept by the Constantinople embassies to enable their staff to escape the heat and humdity of the city centre. 

Those who do come here mainly do so to visit the small but very well-presented Sadberk Hanım Museum, a private archaeological and ethnographic museum, although a walk along the foreshore north to Sarıyer can be very enjoyable. Along the way look out for the off-shore kiosk that was once a sea hamam for discreet bathing rather like the old Victorian bathing machines. 

Sadberk Hanım Museum

If you can't get to Ankara's Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, you might want to stop by the Sadberk Hanım Müzesi (closed Wednesdays, small admission fee), a cut-down version in a pair of wooden houses overlooking the Bosphorus. 

The older of the two buildings contains collections related to the history of Turkish and Islamic art, while the second houses archaeological collections arranged in chronological order. In particular, look out for fine examples of the sort of Beykoz glass which used to be produced on the opposite side of the Bosphorus.

Three rooms have been set up to show off traditional circumcision and coffee-making ceremonies as well as what a lying-in room would have looked like in Ottoman times. 

As for the buildings themselves, the early 20th-century Azaryan Yalı is also known as the Vidalı Yalı because of the criss-crossed wooden patterns on its facade. From the 1950s to 1980 the yalı was a family home for members of the Koç family of industrialists. 

Around Büyükdere

The coast road at Büyükdere was built on reclaimed land and runs in front of a string of yalıs (waterside mansions) including the one built for the grand vizier Keçecizade Fuat Paşa that now houses an expensive hotel. A quieter road runs behind the yalısi to form the heart of the suburb. 

As you head towards the far end of Büyükdere you will see, on the inland side of the road, the very European-looking Church of the Immaculate Conception built for the Franciscans in 1866.

buyukdere1Just up the road is an imposing mansion that also belonged to the Franciscans but was given by them to the Spanish Embassy for use as a summer retreat in 1783.

Nearby is the Armenian Catholic Church of Surp Boğos (St Paul), built in 1847 and greatly expanded in 1893.

While the Spanish Embassy building is in a decent state of repair the same can hardly be said for the far more rustic affair built in 1840 as a private home for "the shrewd pasha", General Nikolai Ignatiev whose main goal in life was to ensure that the Bosphorus offered free passage to Russian shipping. Later it became the summer retreat of the Russian Embassy, but today it stands abandoned in an overgrown garden.buyukdere2

In the back streets of Büyükdere it's worth looking for the little cobbled enclave that houses the Greek Orthodox Church of Hagia Paraskevi and the school once associated with it. The current church only dates back to the 1830s although there had been a church on the site since at least the 17th century. 


Fuat Paşa Hotel. Tel: 0212-242 9860

Transport info

Most buses heading up the Bosphorus from Kabataş or Beşiktaş to Sarıyer pass through Büyükdere.

Nearby areas




seaham1Sea hamam

Events Calendar

September 2019
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 1 2 3 4 5

Exchange Rates