Skyline of Maslak, main business district of the city
This district of Istanbul contains neighborhoods like Elmadağ, Nişantaşı, Kurtuluş, and Şişli, which were first settled during the last years of the Ottoman Empire or early years of Turkish Republic, all situated north of Taksim Square, and the main business district between Mecidiyeköy and Levent–Maslak in the north. Most of Istanbul's steel-and-glass skyscrapers—some of the tallest in Turkey, including Sapphire which has a height of 238 meters (261 mt including its antenna), currently the tallest building in Turkey (and also in all the lands between Frankfurt and Dubai), are located in Levent-Maslak area.
The fastest and most common way to reach this district is to take the metro from Taksim. There are metro station at every couple kilometres all along this part of the city.
Buses from many places in the city has their terminus at Mecidiyeköy. Metrobüs, a bus rapid transit system plying along its right of way between western suburbs and Asian Side also passes through the district, calling at Mecidiyeköy and Zincirlikuyu stations (both of which are fairly close to the namesake metro stations).
Dolmuşes from Beşiktaş to Nişantaşı are also available.
The main thoroughfare of this district is Cumhuriyet Caddesi (Avenue) between Taksim Square and Mecidiyeköy in the north, passing through or near Nişantaşı and Şişli; and its extension Büyükdere Caddesi, which lies towards east and then north, passing through Levent and Maslak and eventually reaching Sarıyer on the Bosphorus bank in north. Between Taksim and Levent, a metro/subway line, which is finally extended to Maslak a few km north of Levent, lies under these streets.
Atatürk Museum (Atatürk Müzesi), Halaskargazi Caddesi 250, Şişli (on the main avenue of Şişli), ☎ +90 212 240-63-19. M-W F-Sa 9AM-4PM. The historical 3-storey house, easily recognizable among concrete apartment buildings with its pink exterior, which the founder of Turkish Republic, Kemal Atatürk rented while staying in Istanbul before setting sail to Samsun on Black Sea coast to start the Turkish War of Independence. Hosts Atatürk-related paraphernalia and photos.Free.
Military Museum (Askeri Müze), Cumhuriyet Caddesi, Harbiye, ☎ +90 212 233-27-20 (fax: +90 212 296-86-18), . W-Su 9AM-5PM. Among the exhibition of this museum are five thousand pieces from the Ottoman era through the WWII, with the most prominent piece possibly being the huge chain that the Byzantines stretched across the mouth of the Golden Horn to keep out the Sultan's navy in 1453 during the siege of Constantinople. In the yard of the museum, the Janissary Band (Mehter Takımı), world’s oldest military band gives concerts of march music in traditional uniforms each afternoon, at 3PM.
Nişantaşı. Nişantaşı is a neighbourhood east of Şişli/northwest of Maçka Park known for its Art Nouveau apartment buildings, ground floors of many of which are occupied by upmarket restaurants, cafes, pubs, and garment stores lining the sidewalks. Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk, well-known Turkish novelist, is a lifelong resident of the neighbourhood which formed the background of several of his novels.
Radio Building (Radyoevi), Cumhuriyet Caddesi, Harbiye (close to Military Museum). This building dating back to 1945 houses the local radio branch of state radio and television corporation of Turkey (TRT). Not an architectural pearl for sure (although fans of 1940s' totalitarian architecture may find a thing or two on its stately exterior), its importance lies on the part it played in the political history of Turkey: It was occupied three times by the Army, in 1960, 1971, and most recently in 1980, when the local radio was decidedly the broadcast type ranging most wide and far, to announce that they had taken over the governance of the country (i.e., they have launched a coup d'etat).
When you are bored of Roman/Byzantine/Ottoman architecture whatsoever, this district—especially the northern sections around Levent and Maslak—is where you want to be to run an eye over steel-and-glass skyscrapers of Istanbul. However, southern sections around Harbiye, Elmadağ, Osmanbey, Nişantaşı, Kurtuluş, and Şişli has large numbers of neo-classical and Art Nouveau buildings which date back to the turn of 20th century, making a nice contrast to northern section of New Istanbul.
Attend the Tataula Carnival A.K.A. Baklahorani, traditionally to Kurtuluş (then named Tatavla). Shrove Monday every year. Despite a 1943 ban on this Greek Orthodox pre-Lent carnival by the Turkish authorities, there has been a revival initiative from 2010. The tradition began in the 19th century or earlier, and even though the event was led by local Greeks, the celebrations were open to everyone. It's also a nice opportunity to look into Turkey's multicultural past.
This part of the city is characterized by having a modern shopping mall every few kilometers along the metro line. Here is a list of them:
City's Nişantaşı, about a 10 minute walk (250m)from Osmanbey Metro statıon.
Cevahir, the newest one of malls in Istanbul. At Şişli. Metro: Şişli-Mecidiyeköy. Also accessible from Mecidiyeköy Metrobus Station.
Profilo, located a bit away from main street (about 10 min walk) at Mecidiyeköy. Metro: Şişli-Mecidiyeköy. Also accessible from Mecidiyeköy Metrobus Station.
Akmerkez, at Etiler. Nearest metro station is Gayrettepe/Zincirlikuyu, the actual location of the mall is about 25-min walk or 10-min taxi ride away from that station.
Metrocity. Levent metro station has a direct exit to the mall.
Kanyon, one of the most exclusive shopping malls in istanbul with sophisticated, modernistic architecture, has a conncection to Levent subway station and to Metrocity by an underground passage.
Istinye Park, extremely expensive and upscale mall about 400m from Ayazağa metro station in Maslak.
Additıonally, Nişantaşı, downhill from Osmanbey metro station, is quite literally full of upscale boutique shopping options (e.g.: Gucci, Prada, Armani).
Foodist, Cihangir Mah. Siraselviler Cad.Bakrac Sokak No: 26. In Cihangir on a side street off of Siraselviler Cd. - coming downhill from Taksim, turn left between the parking lot and Savoy. Authentic, homemade Turkish food including delicious manti (with both meat and vegan options) and dolmas (stuffed peppers, grape leaves, and eggplant). Delicious Turkish deserts. Manti dishes are about 12 TRY (USD$7.)
Sultana's Dinner and 1001 Nights Show, in Elmadag, near Taksim, has traditional Turkish cuisine (meze, kebabs, desserts) with a show every evening of belly dancing, Turkish folklore and live music.
Set Kebap at Nispetiye Cad. No:13 in Levent. Has a wonderful meze table and delicious Adana Kebab. The staff speaks very little English but are most anxious to be helpful.
Kosebasi Kebap. This Zagat-rated kebab joint serves traditional Turkish kebabs in modern/ upscale atmosphere. Levent is the main branch but they have 7 more locations (including 3 express versions) in Istanbul.
Sosa. At Akmerkez Mall, Etiler. tel - +90 212 282 01 51. Fairly priced salads and wraps among others.
Aytekin Cafe, Sehit Muhtar Cad. 71 (north of Taksim Square), ☎ +90 212 361 8402. Sidewalk cafe offering hooka (nargile).
Reassürans Pasajı in Nişantaşı houses many bars and cafés and is a good place for bar hopping on a Saturday night.
Taps, . A bar, restaurant and brewery in one. The crowd is the general Nişantaşı crowd, it also attracts a lot of expatriates.
The city's most reputable strip club, or gentleman's club, is Regina Revue, in Elmadag, near Taksim. It's not a sleazy place and has been running for nearly 30 years. Rather than a standard strip club with just a pole on the stage, Regina has many different decors and performances to music, with the girls acting out different scenarios on stage.
Istanbul Suites, Harbiye Çayiri Sokak No:111, Harbiye, +90 212 224 53 10, . Ranging from duplex to studio apartments which are all furnished with modern appliances. It's located in the city center and is within a 5 minute walking distance to Taksim, nişantaşı and the metro. Possibility for short and long term rentals.
Gallery Residence All-Suites Boutique Hotel, Vali Konağı Cad. Süleyman Nazik Sk. 10, Nişantaşı, ☎ +90 212 291-77-10 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +90 212 224-40-13), . Suites with fully equipped kitchens, DVD players, and fax machines. Free wi-fi, breakfast, sauna, jacuzzi, and fitness.
Jazz Hotel, Bahtiyar Sokak 1, Nişantaşı, ☎ +90 212 296-30-02 (email@example.com, fax: +90 212 296-30-09), . Jazz-themed boutique hotel with 12 rooms named after famous jazz artists. Free wi-fi and breakfast.
Ceylan Intercontinental Istanbul, Asker Ocağı Cad. No:1, near Taksim, +90 212 368 44 44 (fax: +90 212 368 44 99, firstname.lastname@example.org), . Situated in the heart of the city, its fantastic location ensures all rooms have the views of the city or of the Bosphorus.
Hilton Istanbul, Cumhuriyet Caddesi, Harbiye, +90 212 315 6000 (fax: +90 212 240 4165), . Hotel offers a business center, fitness facilities, pool and Turkish baths. Rooms have high speed internet access. Basic room starts at €175, most rooms between €250-350.
Park Hyatt Istanbul - Maçka Palas, Tesvikiye, Bronz Sokak No. 4 Sisli, ☎ + 90 212 315 1234 (email@example.com, fax: + 90 212 315 1235), . A new 5 star hotel in the residential and shopping district Nisantasi. Rooms combine Art Deco style and historic Turkish decor with modern amenities: wireless internet access, DVD player and iPod docking station. The hotel is also home to a spa, swimming pool and restaurants. Emporio Armani and Gucci boutiques are located on the ground floor.
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