Once the production centre for some of Turkey’s finest silk carpets, Hereke today is something of a backwater, sidelined by the motorway that whisks cars straight past it on their way to İzmit/Kocaeli. Take a bus from Harem otogar to Hereke, though, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find a small museum (closed Saturdays and Sundays) that shows off the textiles (although not the carpets) once made on the site.

Here, too, is the Çivisiz Köşkü (Pavilion Without Nails), a lovely waterside mansion, a wooden yalı rather like the one in nearby Eskihisar where the Ottoman artist Osman Hamdi Bey once lived.

This kiosk was built for the visit of Kaiser Wilhelm II (the man who paid for the fountain in İstanbul's Hippodrome) in 1889 and comes with a set of guest rooms even closer to the water. On my last visit it was undergoing restoration but will be a gem of a place once the work is finished.

Even more surprising is the pretty little harbour ringed with boats that turns its back firmly on the road to offer the patrons of its small fish restaurants a glorious view out over the Sea of Marmara. The finest is the Halit. 

Transport info

To get to Hereke from İstanbul without a car take a bus from Harem otogar to İzmit, then another to Körfez and then a third that backtracks to Hereke.





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