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NİSANTAŞI

nisan1I'll be honest and admit that Nişantaşı is not my favourite part of İstanbul. It's not that it doesn't have some splendid 19th and early 20th-century apartment blocks to admire plus the quirky detail of the "nişantası (target stones)" after which it is named. It's just that Nişantaşı lives for brand-name shops. Yes, it's nice to people-watch from the terrace of the Beymen Brasserie but you'll pay prices slanted to the pockets of the Cartier crowd to do so.

It's hard to define exactly where Nişantaşı ends and Teşvikiye begins but Nişantaşı is certainly the part of town bisected by posh Vali Konağı Caddesi and Abdi İpekçi Caddesi. At the bottom of Abdi İpekçi it segues neatly into Maçka with its wonderful city-centre park.

Around Nişantaşı

One of the nicest ways to approach Nişantaşı is on foot along Vali Konağı Caddesi from in front of the Askeri Müzesi (Military Museum). This will quickly take you past one of the entrances to Maçka Demokrasi Park, decorated like many Turkish parks these days with busts of great figures from the wider Turkic-speaking world. If you walk down the steps inside the path you'll come to a bust of the historian Dimitri Cantemir (1673-1723) whose house in Balat is theoretically open to the public. 

Facing the park is one of the most conspicuous and intriguing houses in the area, not least because it was built in the First National style of architecture, an attempt to create a truly Turkish style of modern architecture that stands in sharp contrast to the more European-looking blocks all around it. This is the Vedat Tek Konağı, erstwhile home of the architect, Vedat Tek (1873-1942), and its facade feautures all his signature tricks: thick lancet windows, an overhanging roofline, star-shaped cutouts and panels of blue tiles.nisan1Signature Vedat Tek staircase inside his own house

Tek's home now houses the Yetka Restaurant and Zinhi nightclub. It's especially worth taking a look at the latter which incorporates some fittings taken from the famous Park Hotel that used to stand at the top of Gümüşsuyu Caddesi.

If you keep walking up to the junction with Teşvikiye Caddesi you will see on the crowded pavement one of the target stones, an obelisk that was erected to commemorate a sultan's archery practise. 

At the busy junction where Abdi İpekçi Caddesi turns into Maçka Caddesi there's a memorial to the Milliyet editor Abdi İpekçi (1929-79) who was murdered nearby by the Grey Wolf, Mehmet Ali Ağca, the man even more famous for attempting to kill Pope John Paul II (and immortalised recently as "The Assassin from Apricot City" by Witold Szablowski).

Eating

Beymen Brasserie

In see-and-be-seen territory par excellence the Beymen Brasserie, perfectly poisitioned on a busy street corner, stands out as a place where you can guarantee to be noticed as you sip your (pricy) latte. The pavement tables are as popular as front-row seats at a Beyonce gig throughout the summer.

Tel: 0212-343 0443, Abdi İpekçi Caddesi No. 23

Cookshop

Here's a tip for homesick Brits - the “magnolia” at Cookbook comes as close as Turkish dessert can to a non-alcoholic trifle.

Tel: 0212-232 0566, Abdi İpekçi Caddesi No. 34/A

Frankie

On the top-floor of the Sofa Hotel, this super-glitzy terrace restaurant plays with Aegean and Mediterranean flavours to come up with something distinctive. Live music, directed by Turkish pop diva Sezen Aksu, is an added extra.

Tel: 0212-230 6666, Teşvikiye Caddesi No. 41/A, Nişantaşı

Tatbak

An excellent choice for those who prefer things a little more traditional – Tatbak has been keeping Nişantaşı diners happy since 1960 with a reliable menu of Turkish staples including soups and pides.

Tel: 0212-246 1306, www.tatbak.com, Vali Konağı Caddesi, Akkavak Sokak No. 28/A

Sleeping

The House Hotel

From the minute you step into the first-floor reception area-cum-lounge you know that you will be in for a treat at this super-stylish 45-room hotel. Bathrooms may be a tad on the small side but the graceful curves of the Autoban-designed wooden bedheads and the handy iPod docks won’t leave many people quibbling. Conde Nast rated it one of Europe’s best boutique hotels in 2011 and they’re not often wrong.

Tel: 0212-224 5999, www.thehousehotel.com. Abdi İpekçi Caddesi No. 34

The Sofa Hotel

Transport info 

If you want to get to Nişantaşı by public transport you can either catch a bus heading along Halaskargazi Caddesi from Taksim Square or take the Metro to Osmanbey and walk along narrow, overcrowded Rumeli Caddesi. 

If you're staying in Sultanahmet the easiest way may be to take one of the dolmuşes to Nişantaşı that run from the Eminönü waterfront and terminate behind the City's Shopping Mall.

Nearby areas

Bomonti

Harbiye

Kurtuluş

Maçka

Şişli

Taksim Square

Teşvikiye

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