Istanbul – The Welge Report


 Welcome Fellow Travelers:


Welcome to our world of business information, museums, adventure, birding, botanical gardens, dining and fine wines.  This newsletter provides you with The Welge Report for Istanbul.

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Recognition:  We extend special thanks to the people who manage and/or own the institutions, museums and restaurants featured in our guides.  In some instances we have relied on their descriptions and photos.




Birding Opps:  Info for our birding friends.  Here are some sites that show you where and when you can see storks, levant sparrow hawks, honey buzzards, shag, great cormorant and many more.

Birding Turkey
Birding Pal ( is a site to connect with local bird watchers (non-professionals who don’t get paid) and professionals.  Either way they know the territory.

Botanically Yours – Interesting gardens for our horticultural friends.

Nezahat Gokyigit (Botanik Bahcesi ) – Daily: 9-5:30, Ataşehir Ataturk Mahallesi, Fatih Sultan Mehmet Caddesi, TEM Otoyolu Anadolu Otoyol Kavsagi PK:81120 Istanbul,  90 216 456 44 37

This has to be a one-of-its-kind garden for the location.  It situated in the middle of a clover leaf of 2 major highways.

It is lovely and worth your time.  You’ll never forget it or stop talking about it.

Farmers Markets – On the Asian side, is the Kadikoy Market.  The reason we found this large all purpose market is we wanted to eat at Ciya Sofrasi (see Day Two) which was a great recommendation.

Almost next to the “Grand Bazaar” is the Emihonu Egyptian Spice Bazaar – open daily, excellent for dried fruits, spices olives and oils.

Tarlabasi is close enough to Taksin’s Istikal street to make this market a stop.  It’s edgy! Famous for figs, honey, fruits and pickled everything.


Grape Experience – People have been making wine in Turkey for about 7,000 years, Recently several Turkish producers have earned prestigious international awards.  Look for labels such as Doluca, Kavaklidere, Sevilen, Pamukale, Kayra Kocabag and Turasan.

Transportation For public transportation in Istanbul check out this website: (

Business Information: Check out this site for your business needs  (

U.S. Embassy:  ( – İstinye Mahallesi, Üç Şehitler Sokak No.2 İstinye 34460 – Istanbul / Turkey, Phone: (90) 212-335 90 00

Exchange Rates (


Day One:  Cousin Aram suggests that you visit the Pierre Loti House – Daily: 8 AM-Midnight, Gümüşsuyu Balmumcu Sokak 1 Eyüp, 212 581 2696

This will give you a visual image of Istanbul and also to get in the Turkish frame of mind.  Any taxi driver will be glad to drive you all the way to the Pierre Loti cafe.

Just ask the taxi driver to take you to the Eyüp mosque, or alternatively take bus 39, 55T or 99A and get off close to the mosque.

From there you have two options to make your way to the tea house on the hilltop. You can either climb  up through the picturesque cemetery, or take the funicular which is sign-posted from the mosque.


Cousin Aram suggests taking the latter option to reach the Pierre Loti Cafe, and afterwards descend by taking the path between the (mostly Ottoman) tombstones.

To further get a sense of Turkey we suggest a visit to the Dolmabahce Palace Besiktas, Istanbul 80680, 236 90 00

Dolmabahce Palace was built for the Sultans after they felt Topkapi became outdated. Dolmabahçe Palace was home to six Sultans from 1856, when it was first inhabited, up until the abolition of the Caliphate in 1924.

The world’s largest Bohemian crystal chandelier  in the Ceremonial Hall was a gift from Queen Victoria. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder and first president of the Republic of Turkey, spent his last days here in a bedroom that is now part of the museum.


Time for lunch at Iskele Balık Restaurant – L & D: Daily, İskele Meydanı No.2/1 , 242 22 73

Try their appetizers of fried or grilled calamari, octopus, oyster, fish soup, and sigara böreği (rolled pastry filled with cheese).

For your entrée there is more fish: kippers, anchovies, octopus salad, grilled calamari and prawns, paçanga, shrimp croquettes, scallops, clams, mussels and angler fish dumplings.  Plus, it offers a great water view and a very accommodating staff.

Look for the Koeabag Cabernet Sauvignon.


After lunch we suggest a visit to the Istanbul Archaeology Museums – Tu-Su: 9-7, Osman Hamdi Bey Yokuşu Sokak, Gülhane, 5207740

With nothing dating more recent than the 1st century A.D., it’s a real challenge to find something in this museum that is not of enormous significance.

Two highlights are easily the fragments of the 13th-century-B.C. sphinx from the Yarkapi Gate at Hattusas and one of the three known tablets of the Treaty of Kadesh, the oldest recorded peace treaty signed between Ramses II and the Hittites in the 13th century B.C., inscribed in Akkadian, the international language of the era.


Before dinner you need to make a stop at the Basilica Cistern – Daily: 9-7, Alemdar Mh., Şeftali Sk No:6, Fatih, 522 1259

The Basilica Cistern was built by the Great Palace to meet water needs.  It is a huge building with 336 columns, each 9 meters high. These columns are planted at regular intervals, and each row has 12 to 28 columns.

Two columns in the northwest corner of the cistern are used as a base under two Medusa heads.

It is one of the masterpieces of the art of Roman sculpture shown above.


Time for dinner at Lucca – L & D: Daily, Cevdetpaşa Caddesi No:51 B, Bebek, 212 257 12 55

It’s famous for its small dishes and after dinner dancing.  We suggest trying several dishes starting with the fresh artichoke purée and then the mini burger, shrimp roll and the duck roll.

The lemon sea bass, duck pappardelle and pad Thai are also popular favorites.

The Yakut is a good wine choice.


Day Two:  Breakfast is at Namil Gurme Delicatessan – B & L: Daily, Rihtim Cad, 2936880

The breakfast platter has various cheeses, cold meats and olives, or you might enjoy the stewed and pickled veggies, spreads, Turkish sweets and dried fruit.


We strongly suggest a visit to the Chora Museum –Daily: 9-7 Edirnekapı, Fatih, (212) 631 92 41

Its Turkish name is Kariye Müzesi. Kariye is the Turkish version of Chora which is the Greek word for “countryside.”  The first Chora Church was rebuilt by Justinianus (527-565) in place of this chapel.

In the era of Komnenoi it served as the court chapel for important religious ceremonies.  The interior of the building is covered with wonderful mosaics and frescoes, illustrating scenes from the life of Christ and the Virgin Mary.


Your next place to visit has been in the movies (a lot), Topkapi Palace – W-M: 9-5, Sultanahmet, Eminonu,  212- 512 04 80

Topkapi Palace was home to all the Ottoman sultans until the reign of Abdulmecid I (1839-1860), a period of nearly four centuries.

The palace was not a single massive building in the western tradition, but an organic structure which was never static and reflected the styles and tastes of many periods.

The axes are horizontal, and the style consciously humble, avoiding ostentatious monumental facades.


Lunch is at Asitane – B,L,D: Daily, Kariye Camii Sokak No: 6 34240 Edirnekapi, (212) 635 7997

Eating here is a living history class.  Ottoman cuisine is a buried treasure, the heritage of a great empire which lasted for 700 years, a synthesis of Central Asian, Anatolian, Middle Eastern and Balkan flavors.

Unfortunately, very few recipes from this rich cuisine have survived due to a tradition which demanded that cooks’ guilds keep their recipes and cooking techniques secret.

Start with the 14th century yogurt soup with cracked wheat and chickpeas or the Grape leaves stuffed with a blend of sour cherries, rice, onions and pine nuts, cooked lightly in olive oil seasoned with black pepper and cinnamon from an 1844 recipe.

For an entrée try the 15th century concoction of baked whole sea bass stuffed with walnuts and spices, colored with saffron or again from 1844 the grilled veal fillets seasoned with tarragon, bay leaves, and black pepper.

Go for the Villa Doulca white wine.  And for dessert it’s the Pounded Almond “Halva” circa 1539.


Now we’re ready for a visit to the Blue Mosque – Sultanahmet Cami, 34122 Sultanahmet, Fatih, 212 518 13 19. Plan your visit to the Sultanahmet area of Istanbul so that you better arrive mid morning.

Prayer occurs five times a day with the first call to prayer at sunrise and the last one at nightfall.

The mosque closes for 90 minutes at each prayer time.  Avoid visiting a mosque at prayer time (especially Midday praying on Friday) or within a half hour after the ezan is chanted from the Mosque minarets.

(Called Sultanahmet Camii in Turkish) it is the most historical mosque in Istanbul. The mosque is known as the Blue Mosque because of blue tiles surrounding the walls.

It was built between 1609 and 1616 during the rule of Ahmed I, and like many other mosques it also comprises a tomb of the founder, a madrasa and a hospice.


Let’s visit the Galata Tower – Daily: 9-5, Buyuk Hendek Cad., 212 293 8180

The Galata Tower has dominated Beyoğlu‘s skyline since 1348 and still offers the best panoramic views of the city.


Dinner is at Ciya SofrasiCaferaga Mah, Guneslibahce Sh No 43, Kadikoy-Istanbul, Tel: 216 330 31 90

Ciya Sofrasi offers a unique dining experience and would be an excellent place for a business lunch or dinner.  The menu is based on “lost recipes” from across Turkey.

Ciya Sofrasi is located on the Asian side, a short inexpensive ferry ride from Europe.  A note of caution: the ferries retire early and it’s a hike across the bridge.  We know.

Our waiter Ali suggested a bottle of Yakut.  He suggested the amuse bouches that was 2 dolmas and meatballs en croute.

Then we tried half-portions of 3 offerings: Ayva Dizmec – quince, ground beef, tomato sauce and black pepper,  next was Elazig (casserole) – eggplant, garlic, lamb, tomato, pepper, spices, and then Siveydiz – lamb, chickpeas, strained yogurt, mint and garlic.

Ali strongly recommended that we eat each dish separately and in a specific order.

Another dish to try would be the steam bomb (a giant popover) with spicy cheese. For dessert, ask for a combination of house specialties.


Day Three Breakfast is at Patisserie D’oret - B,L,D: Daily, Changir Cad. No 1/A

OJ, coffee and French toast is our suggestion but you can check out the menu.


Now we are on the way to Hagia Sofia – Tu-Su: 9-7, Sultanahmet | Eminonu District, 212 522 1750

The Hagia Sophia, one of the historical architectural wonders that still remains standing today, has an important place in the art world with its architecture, grandness, size and functionality.

The Hagia Sofia is a great architectural beauty and an important monument both for the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. It was initially a church, later a mosque, and is now a museum of the Turkish Republic.

The mystical city Istanbul hosted many civilizations of which the Byzantium and Ottoman Empires were the most famous. The city today carries the characteristics of these two different cultures, and the Hagia Sophia is a perfect synthesis where one can observe both Ottoman and Byzantium effects under one great dome.

The Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s orders, and has been functioning as one since February 1, 1935, welcoming both local and foreign visitors.


Now is the time to check out the Grand Bazaar – M-Sa: 9-7, Çemberlitaş Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar (Kapalıçarşı) in Istanbul is one of the largest covered markets in the world with 60 streets, 5,000 shops, and attracts between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily.

It is well known for its jewelry, hand-painted ceramics, carpets, embroideries, spices and antique shops. Many of the stalls in the bazaar are grouped by type of goods, with special areas for leather, gold jewelry and the like.

The bazaar has been an important trading center since 1461 and its labyrinthine vaults feature two bedestens (domed buildings), the first of which was constructed between 1455 and 1461 by the order of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror.

The bazaar was vastly enlarged in the 16th century, during the reign of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, and in 1894 underwent a major restoration following an earthquake.

The complex houses two mosques, four fountains, two hamams, and several cafés and restaurants.

In the centre is the high domed hall of the Cevahir Bedesten, where the most valuable items and antiques were to be found in the past, and still are today, including furniture, copperware, amber prayer beads, inlaid weapons, icons, mother-of-pearl mirrors, water pipes, watches and clocks, candlesticks, old coins, and silver and gold jewelry set with coral and turquoise.

A leisurely afternoon spent exploring the bazaar, sitting in one of the cafés and watching the crowds pass by, and bargaining for purchases is one of the best ways to recapture the romantic atmosphere of old Istanbul.

Gates:  The Grand Bazaar has four main gates situated at the ends of its two major streets which intersect near the southwestern corner of the bazaar.


Cousin Abdul suggests dining at Topaz – D: Nightly İnönü Caddesi, Ömer Avni Mahallesi No.50 Gümüşsuyu, 212 249 1001


Go for the tasting menu with the wine pairings.  It begins with a saffron flavored seafood soup followed by a duck liver terrine. The wine selection is ’10 Casale Vecchio Pecorino.

Then a grilled redmullet salad with a cardamom dressing paired with the ’11 Whispering Angel Rose.

The next course is  marinated beef with white truffle risotto and a ’10 Chianti Borgo Sanleo.

After a sorbet palate cleanser you’ll have the duck with spinach and vegetable emulsion.  This is accompanied with a ’07 Guigal Cote du Rhone.  Dessert is a pistachio and chocolate croquante and a NV Moscatel Oro.


Until next time, best wishes and safe travels,

Dick & Dee Welge 

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