EPIC, evolving Istanbul - where Europe collides head-on with Asia - boasts just as many “happening” bars, restaurants and clubs these days as it does mosques and minarets.
It is this beguiling mix of future and past that has made Turkey’s largest city and cultural capital one of the world’s most visited. Dissected by the Bosphorous, high-octane Istanbul thrums with an infectious energy. It abounds in the buzzy Eminonu spice markets. In the old city of Sultanahmet with its dramatic Ottoman and Byzantine relics. And in affluent Bebek on the European shores of the Bosphorous, magnet for Istanbul’s high society.
More contemporary Beyoglu, separated from the old city by the Golden Horn, is the heart of much of Istanbul’s nocturnal life – in particular its stylish foreign restaurants and riotous meyhanes (tavernas playing traditional Turkish folk music to an accompanying river of raki); while over on the Asian side, the hectic Kadikoy neighbourhood referred to by locals as ‘Barlar Sokak’ (‘Bar Street’), heaves with everything from dark gothic houses to bright and breezy garden venues and heavy metal dives.
Little wonder this vast and captivating metropolis has been dubbed the City of the World’s Desire.