Turkey // Istanbul and around //

The northwest quarter

One of the least visited but most fascinating areas of the old city, the northwest quarter is bounded on the west by the major thoroughfare of Fevzi Paşa Caddesi, to the north by the land walls of Theodosius, to the east by the Golden Horn, and on the south by traffic-choked Atatürk Bulvarı. Once home to a cosmopolitan population of Muslims, Christians and Jews, it’s now a devoutly Muslim area, particularly in the district of Fatih, where you’ll notice many women in chadors and bearded men in şalvar pants, long baggy shirts and skullcaps (dress appropriately).

The most notable sights are a former Byzantine church, now the Zeyrek Camii; two notable Ottoman mosques, the Fatih and Yavuz Selim; the magnificent Byzantine mosaics in the Fethiye Museum, the spiritual centre of the Orthodox Christian world; the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate; and the curious cast-iron church of St Stephen of the Bulgars. A spiritual centre of a different order awaits a couple of kilometres up the Golden Horn from the Patriarchate, the Eyüp area, sacred to Muslims worldwide as it boasts the tomb of Eyüp Ensari, standard-bearer of the Prophet Mohammed.