A Village of Angels on the Bosphorus: Arnavutköy

While embarking on a Bosphorus boat tour, you'll encounter a charming district nestled on the European side between Bebek and Kuruçeşme. This gem is none other than Arnavutköy, one of the 23 neighborhoods within the Beşiktaş district. Characterized by a stunning coastal view adorned with historical mansions, Arnavutköy creates a picturesque spectacle from the sea. As you explore this small neighborhood, you'll discover a multitude of delights beyond what meets the eye from the water. The shoreline and quaint side streets unveil a rich tapestry of experiences, with historic mansions lining the coast and buildings ascending towards Ulus, the upscale district of Beşiktaş. Adding a touch of greenery to the landscape, Robert College further enhances the allure with its lush gardens.

Somewhere between peace and envy…

As you stroll through Arnavutköy, a meticulously preserved architectural gem along the Bosphorus, you're bound to be engulfed in tranquility tinged with a hint of envy. The well-preserved charm of this neighborhood might even evoke a twinge of regret that you're not among the fortunate residents who revel in its beauty every day, sharing the streets as neighbors. In this quaint enclave of approximately 5000 people, the appeal lies in its status as one of Istanbul's most endearing places. What sets it apart is the approach to urban transformation – here, the emphasis is on "preserve and restore" rather than "demolish." This unique approach allows you to meander through narrow yet neighborly streets adorned with century-old buildings, eliciting a smile that naturally graces your face. Each street presents a different beauty, featuring cheerful inhabitants, inviting homes, and heartwarming shops that collectively warm your soul. When you go down to the beach, you are fascinated by the beauty between the two Bosphorus bridges, look at the boats tied to the shore and feel like you are renting a yacht on the Bosphorus.

From the Village of Angels to Arnavutköy

For millennia, the Bosphorus has stood as an attractive dwelling place, owing to its strategic location, fertile surroundings, and abundance. The vicinity that encompasses Arnavutköy has witnessed its own share of historical significance, reflected in its varied nomenclature over the years. Once known as Hestai, during the Roman era, it bore the names Promotu and Anaplous. In the 1800s, the appellation Horasmoto, translating to the village of angels, was adopted. The origin of this name can be traced back to the Byzantine period when the region housed the "Ayios Mihail Church," commissioned by Emperor Justinian I. This church, dedicated to the archangel Michael, bestowed the moniker Angels Village upon the area. The present-day Aya Strati Taksiarhi Greek Orthodox Church likely serves as the spiritual successor to its Byzantine predecessor.

Greek fishermen bestowed another name upon Arnavutköy, evident when examining the map. The protruding point of Arnavutköy into the Bosphorus is labeled Cape Akıntı. Due to the vigorous current at this location, the Greek fishermen referred to the village as Mega Revma, signifying "big current."

The origin of the name Arnavutköy is surrounded by two conjectures. The first suggests that following the conquest of Istanbul, soldiers of Albanian descent, known as janissaries, were established in this area. The second narrative proposes that during the rule of Sultan Abdülmecid, Albanian artisans were summoned to construct the village's roads, resulting in the retention of the name Arnavutköy, with the sidewalks dubbed as Albanian sidewalks.

The first piled road of the Bosphorus is in Arnavutköy

A distinctive feature of Arnavutköy is the coastal route famously known as the piled road. Constructed in 1988 as a remedy for the prevalent traffic congestion in the area, this road traverses in front of mansions that once enjoyed a seaside location. Spanning 1200 meters and supported by 720 steel pipes, the piled road was inaugurated by Bedrettin Dalan, a renowned former mayor of Istanbul, at a cost of 4 billion liras in the currency of that era. While residents of these mansions once had direct access to the sea from their gardens, the construction of the piled road confined them to heavy traffic. Conversely, for those navigating the Bosphorus route, the piled road serves as a vital resource, offering a smoother journey. Moreover, pedestrians now relish uninterrupted seaside strolls thanks to this road. When visiting Arnavutköy, a leisurely walk along the piled road by the shore is highly recommended.

Take a look at Arnavutköy from the sea

One of the things that makes people happy about Istanbul, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, is to be able to see the city from the sea. You know, Paris looks much more beautiful at night. It is a pleasure to watch New York from the sky. Tokyo in the spring, Prague when it is under snow, takes on a different beauty. Istanbul, on the other hand, always looks very beautiful from the sea, day or night. Exploring Arnavutköy from the sea is a must-have experience. For this, you can reach companies or yacht owners that offer yacht charter in Istanbul services.. You can rent a yacht on an hourly or daily basis, go on a Bosphorus tour, eat your meal against the beauties of Arnavutköy on the sea, and even celebrate a special day.

Important buildings and architectural monuments you should see in Arnavutköy

Exploring the streets of Arnavutköy unveils a plethora of charming structures nestled along its sloping lanes. These Art Nouveau-style wooden houses predominantly trace their origins to the craftsmanship of Jewish and Greek families from bygone eras. Furthermore, during that period, the neighborhood attracted statesmen, diplomats, and foreign ambassadors serving the empire as residents of choice. Presently, in the face of modern urbanization, there's a noticeable absence of Jewish families in the area. However, a handful of Greek families still call this neighborhood home, with the Greek Primary School remaining active and hosting a small number of students.

As you meander through the streets, numerous buildings and houses will pique your curiosity with their intriguing stories. Attempting to chronicle each one individually would be impractical, but the primary structures can be summarized as follows:

Tevfikiye Mosque

The Tevfikiye Mosque stands out with an architectural style uncommon in our mosques. Although the architect behind the mosque, inaugurated for worship in 1838, remains unknown, its design reflects a Hellenistic influence. Many mistakenly assume, when viewing it from a distance, that the structure was converted from a church to a mosque; however, this mosque was originally constructed in this distinct manner. Recognized as both the Akıntı Burnu Mosque and Arnavutköy Mosque, it was commissioned by Sultan Mahmud II on behalf of his son Şehzade Tevfik Sultan.

Decorated Police Station: Arnavutköy Police Station

During the 19th century, certain police stations constructed in Istanbul showcased elegant architecture to symbolize the authority of the sultans and the empire. These police stations earned the moniker "ornate police stations." The Arnavutköy Police Station, situated adjacent to the Tevfikiye Mosque, is one such ornate police station in Istanbul, boasting Hellenistic architectural influences. Erected in 1843, this two-story building features the monogram of Sultan Abdülmecit. Notably, the police station has a storied history, and among its distinguished visitors was Süreyya, the former queen of Iran, who once provided testimony here. The captivating details of this anecdote can be explored in the writings of the late Hıncal Uluç.

Aya Strati Taksiarhi Greek Orthodox Church

The Aya Strati Taksiarhi Church, situated on Satış Meydanı Street, has its roots tracing back to the Constantine period, predating the conquest of Constantinople. Initially restored in 1677, the church faced adversities such as a fire, leading to its renovation in 1799. However, misfortune struck again, and in 1894, the Istanbul earthquake razed the church to the ground. Reconstructed in 1899 by Musurus Pasha in its current form, the church now stands as the largest in Arnavutköy, dedicated to the archangel Michael, revered by Greeks for his perceived healing powers. Notably, the church features the Saint Paraskevi chapel within its courtyard, originally situated outside but relocated in 1799. The bell tower of this exquisite temple bears the inscription "Come to me," quoting the words of Jesus Christ.

Profitis Ilias Greek Orthodox Church and Ayazma

This modest chapel, dedicated to the Prophet Elijah, is essentially a small church designed to accommodate 15-20 people. Constructed in 1871 by the architect Paschalis, the chapel features a water source known as "Profitis Ilias Ayazma" or "Great Ayazma." This spring, in existence since Byzantine times, continues to flow with clear and cold water, believed to possess healing properties. Surrounding the chapel are the graves of three families, and adjacent to it lies the Greek Orthodox cemetery of the same name. Notably, this cemetery hosts the family tomb of Kostaki Musurus Pasha, a distinguished diplomat of the Ottoman Empire in his era. Musurus Pasha, renowned as the founder of the Taksiarhi Church on Sales Square Street, also had a passion for literature, being the first to translate Dante's Divine Comedy into Turkish.

Robert Collegej

Perched on the hill of Arnavutköy, Robert College stands as one of the most esteemed educational institutions in Istanbul. Resembling a setting from an American or British film, the school boasts expansive green grounds and architecturally impressive buildings. If afforded the chance and granted permission, experiencing the ambiance of this long-standing educational establishment is certain to leave a profound impression.

Arnavutköy Coast : Cape Akıntı and Pile Road

Cape Akıntı, where Arnavutköy extends into the sea, marks a point where a constant current flows from the Black Sea to the Marmara at a speed of 12 knots per hour. This location gives rise to swirling whirlpools, making it a navigational challenge for vessels of all sizes. Despite its complexity for sailors, Cape Akıntı offers one of the most delightful walking paths for pedestrians in Istanbul. Here, you can observe fishermen at work while enjoying the picturesque views of Kandilli, with the July 15th Martyrs Bridge to your right, the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge to your left, and Vaniköy across the waters. Walking along the Piled Road, which doubles as the coastline, provides a unique experience akin to strolling on the sea. Additionally, you can capture memorable selfies with the charming 3-4 story mansions painted in pastel hues on the land side.

Arnavutköy Pier

Arnavutköy has been accessible by sea for over a century. The initial pier was constructed in proximity to the police station. To accommodate the growing population, the pier underwent renovations in 1890, with an additional expansion in 1894 that included a women's passenger hall. Regrettably, the historical pier had to be dismantled to make way for the construction of a piled road. While the current pier is a stylish and elegant structure, it lacks a historical background, as it was erected in 1988.

Arnavutköy and gastronomy

Arnavutköy boasts numerous pubs, cafes, restaurants, and taverns, some with a history spanning decades. We've put together a list of the most notable ones for you. Exploring these establishments, savoring diverse flavors during your Arnavutköy adventure, is bound to enhance your day and create lasting memories.

Pubs, bars and cafes in Arnavutköy

The Alexandra Cocktail Bar stands out for its delightful drinks, particularly in the evenings. The establishment's terrace provides an utterly captivating view. Any, located across from Alexandra, is among the highly frequented spots in Arnavutköy. It is known for its delectable offerings, including burgers, buffalo wings, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and tempting desserts.
On the flip side, Jain captivates its patrons with Italian cuisine, breakfast options, delectable desserts, and inventive cocktails.
Goose No. 25 is another cocktail bar in Arnavutköy with a delicious food menu.
Xunta Cafe Coctail Bar summarizes itself with the words music, cocktail, coffee and design. It is a very pleasant place.
Cafe Hide is famous for its secret garden hidden among the greenery, coffee, brunch and bakery varieties.
Weber's Kitchen Bar offers international cuisine, cocktails and wine options.
Brasserie Di Dante and Melina Kantina are located on Satış Meydanı Street. In these two ambitious breakfast-dining-drinking places, you feel like you are in a European country because of the view of the Taksiarhi Church directly opposite. By the way, the name Brasserie Di Dante was inspired by Musurus Pasha, who both built the church and translated Dante's Divine Comedy into Turkish.
A Bit of Eggo, as the name suggests, is an exceptional place with its egg-heavy menu.

Fishermen and taverns in Arnavutköy

Established in 1992 on a humble boat and currently operating with two branches on Satış Meydanı Street, Âdem Baba stands as a key culinary destination in Arnavutköy. Renowned for its fresh, daily-caught fish, the menu at Âdem Baba is alcohol-free.
Şişko Perihan, on the other hand, offers guests a nostalgic tavern experience, allowing them to revel in the ambiance of an old-style tavern.
Sur Balık, Mira Balık, Arnavutköy Balıkçısı, Akıntı Burnu Restaurant, Zıpkın Balık, Revma Balık, and İskele Livar Balık Evi offer a more upscale dining experience, complete with alcohol service. In these establishments, it's a privilege to indulge in a drink and savor fish and appetizers while enjoying the splendid view of the Bosphorus.
On the contrary, Hayri Balık and Rago Balık, although lacking a scenic view, distinguish themselves with their unique ambiance and flavorful offerings.
If you don't want fish, Dedee Ocakbaşı is the place to go. This is a young, sincere, warm and friendly ocakbaşı.
Antica Locanda is an elite restaurant serving real Italian flavors under the leadership of Chef Gian Carlo Talerico.

Apart from these, there are many more flavor spots in Arnavutköy that we cannot name. Just take a walk through the side streets of Arnavutköy to discover them.

Transportation to Arnavutköy

The most delightful way to reach Arnavutköy is by sea. Utilizing ferry services departing from Eminönü, İstinye, and Çengelköy at designated times allows you to effortlessly reach Arnavutköy Pier while enjoying the refreshing Bosphorus breeze. Keep in mind that the schedules differ between summer and winter, so it's advisable to check the current timetable at

To reach Arnavutköy via the municipal bus service IETT, you can simply board one of the buses labeled 22, 22 RE, 25 E, 40, 40 T, or 42 T, all of which follow the Bosphorus line, and disembark at the Arnavutköy stop. However, if you opt for private car transportation, be aware that parking may pose challenges.