Ortaköy: 7 places you can visit with the mosque in Istanbul!
Ortaköy is one of the liveliest neighbourhoods in Istanbul.
It belongs to the Besiktas district and is located just south of the Bosporus Bridge, along the Bosporus.
Ortaköy is known for its nightlife, restaurants, boutiques, handicraft shops, kumpir stalls and of course the Ortaköy Mosque. Due to the nearby Galatasaray University, Ortaköy is also one of the youngest districts in Istanbul.
You can find the view of the Ortaköy Mosque with the Bosporus Bridge in the background in all Istanbul travel guides.
Here I will show you what you can do in Ortaköy in one afternoon.
7 things you can do in Ortaköy!
1. Ortaköy Mosque
Due to its location directly in front of the Bosporus Bridge, the Ortaköy Mosque is one of the most vivid places in Istanbul.
You can find the mosque, with the bridge in the background as the cover picture on many Istanbul travel guides. Like no other place, the mosque shows the connection between the old and new: from the days of the Ottomans till today’s modern Istanbul.
Sultan Abdülmecid commissioned the construction of the mosque in 1855. After its completion, it served as the “Great Imperial Mosque” for the Ottoman Sultan.
The mosque with its large windows and the light-flooded interior corresponds to the neo-baroque style. The main room of the mosque is comparatively small, but it is very interesting because of the pink mosaics on the ceiling.
Compared to other large mosques such as the Blauen or Süleymaniye Mosque, the Ortaköy Mosque is not nearly as crowded.
The mosque, like all the other mosques in Istanbul, is open to visitors free of charge between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. The main visiting time for tourists is between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Remember that the mosque is always closed during daily prayer times.
2. Kumpir food
Kumpir is one of the most popular street foods in Istanbul and Turkey. The best place to eat the stuffed potato is around the Ortaköy Mosque!
Kumpir stands in Turkey like to call themselves “Ortaköy Kumpir”. This is because it is considered the best place to eat kumpir.
In Ortaköy, you will find more than a dozen stalls in the side streets behind the mosque that only specialise in kumpir. They never miss customers, even though there are so many stands.
Just buy a kumpir and sit down on one of the benches on the Bosporus, next to the mosque. It’s the perfect breakfast or will fill you up as a good afternoon snack.
3. Restaurants on the Bosporus Bridge
If you are really hungry, there is more than just kumpir to eat when you’re in Ortaköy.
The waffle sellers in the quarter are just as famous as the Kumpir stands. So if you are looking for a crispy dessert, try the delicious waffles at stalls to take away or you can order them directly in the restaurants.
For sightseeing, I think the Beltas Restaurant behind the Ortaköy Mosque, directly on the Bosporus, is the best. You are sitting in the outdoor dining area of the restaurant right on the riverbank.
If you’d rather have a coffee, along with snacks and cake, the House Hotel is a good option.
4. Nightlife in Ortaköy
The clubs north of the Bosporus Bridge are among Istanbul‘s most exclusive clubs. In contrast to the clubs near Istiklal Caddesi and Taksim Square, Ortaköy is more about attracting attention and being seen.
This was particularly true in the Reina Club, which was closed after the attack in January 2017 and was once the centre of Istanbul’s B and C stars. Since then, the Sortie, Anjelique and the Supperclub have succeeded the Reina.
The main argument for clubs like Sortie is their location: party right on the Bosporus with a great view of the Bosporus Bridge.
Ortaköy is also a student district. That’s why you will find many pubs and bars in the district. The Kafe Pi Ortaköy and Dwarf Irish Pub are quite good.
5. Aya Fokas, Etz-Ahayim Synagogue and Barbarossa
If you are looking for traces of the past of the lively Ortaköy district, you will find many interesting places very quickly.
These include, for example, the Greek Orthodox Church of Aya Fokas or the Etz-Ahayim Synagogue. Ortaköy was already a cosmopolitan district in the Ottoman Empire, in which many Greeks, Armenians and Jews lived. This is still the case today, to a certain extent.
There are many other interesting places in the vicinity of Ortaköy. For example, have you heard of Khair ad-Din Barbarossa? You’ll remember the name, at least, from Pirates of the Caribbean.
During the Middle Ages, Barbarossa was an Ottoman general known in Europe as the pirate Barbarossa. His mausoleum and a monument are in Barbaros Park near Ortaköy.
6. Ortaköy market
In the narrow streets near the Ortaköy Mosque, there are dozens of small stalls with a wide variety of products. These include souvenirs and small handicrafts.
These are not the typical souvenirs from Turkey nor do they sell the fake designer bags, if that’s what you are looking for, you are in the wrong area.
But if you like to stroll through market streets and look for unusual things, then you are certain to find something interesting in Ortaköy.
7. Bosporus tour from Ortaköy
Exactly at 3 p.m., ships depart from the ferry terminal next to the Mosque for a short tour of the Bosporus.
The ships go to the Rumelian and Anatolian fortresses near the second Bosporus Bridge to the north and to the Galata Bridge to the south.
The price for the round trip, which takes around 2 1/2 hours, is pretty cheap at 12 Turkish Lira. On board you can even buy tea and snacks to eat while you enjoy the tour.
Touring the Bosporus is a “must” if you plan to visit the city of Istanbul. Together with an hour or two around the Ortaköy Mosque, you’ll find that almost an entire afternoon has passed with the tour.
Bonus: Nearby attractions
The palace, built in the 18th century, is a mixture of palaces such as Versailles in Paris or Schönbrunn in Vienna and the Ottoman style. The palace’s selamlik and harem are particularly sumptuously furnished. The walls alone are decorated with 14 tons of gold leaf.
To reach the palace, you can either walk from Ortaköy for 15 minutes or take the bus for 3 stops.
Another interesting, but much less visited place is the Yildiz Palace and Park. The palace also served as a residence for the Ottoman sultans. It is located between Ortaköy and the Dolmabahce Palace.