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Complete Guide to the Sisli Area of Istanbul

Welcome to the Sisli area of Istanbul. Although rarely mentioned in mainstream travel guide books, Sisli is a prominent district in European Istanbul that tourists and newcomers would do well to visit. Promising upmarket influences with style, its fast-paced lifestyle moves with the times and trends to show modern Turkey in full flow.

Glance around the urban landscape, and you’ll see proof of its contribution towards Istanbul’s status as a leading city of Turkey. Large, all-encompassing shopping malls offering entertainment, dining and places to splash your cash under one roof, and tall skyscrapers featuring the latest in architectural trends dominate its outward appearance.

Pre-19th century; it was only open land used by upper members of society for hunting. Urban development began in the early 20th century, and art nouveau buildings attracted middle-class residents to move, live and work there. By the 1970s, it had become a hub of trade, and in later years, a centre for higher education. Indeed, Sisli’s contribution to Istanbul’s well-being is cutting edge and can’t be denied. 

Macka Sisli Istanbul


The Sisli Area of Istanbul


9 Fun Attractions and Things to Do in Sisli

While Sisli’s fame revolves around shopping malls, business deals and tall skyscrapers, tourists will enjoy the range of activities and landmark buildings worth visiting. They include….

Tesvikiye Mosque: The original Tesvikiye Mosque, built in 1795, fell into disrepair but extensive renovation in the 18th century brings us to the neo-baroque style building we see today. Noticeable by distinctive white columns at its entrance, this famous mosque is open to visitors outside of prayer times.

Ataturk Museum: To see Sisli’s old style buildings, seek out the Ataturk Museum on Halaskargazi Caddesi which is a perfect example. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the Turkish Republic’s founding father, lived and worked in the building constructed in 1908, and these days it showcases his photos, belongings and artwork collections.

Mecidiyekoy Antiques Bazaar: 27 stores make up this marvellous collection of antiques that will delight anyone who enjoys bygone eras. If you have bought property in Istanbul and are looking for old-world furnishings and ornaments, you’ll find what you are looking for here.

Istanbul Military Museum: In their prime, the Ottoman military was a formidable fighting force conquering many countries and empires to gain ruling power. The Istanbul Military Museum through exhibitions and informative displays tells how they did it, alongside the country’s transition into becoming a republic.

Ferikoy Antiques Market: Wander along to Ferikoy district on a Sunday for their weekly antique fair, where local art dealers sell trinkets, furniture, art and more. Remember Turkey places restrictions on taking antiques out of the country so check before you buy.

Ihlamur Palace: This Ottoman summer home sits in the Besiktas district but is easy to get to. Comprising two pavilions, an on-site café also serves refreshments and snacks.

Macka Gondola and Park: Also called Democratic park, Macka Park is a beautiful green area distanced from fast-paced city life. Open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; a short gondola ride also gives you a marvellous bird's-eye view before ending near the Istanbul Taksim Technical University. This is also an unusual and convenient way to get to Beyoglu, the heart of new Istanbul.

Macka Art Gallery: Also in Tesvikiye district, this art gallery covering 400 square metres features many modern artworks by contemporary Turkish artists. As well as hosting regular exhibitions, themed events and auctions are highlights of their social calendar.

Holy Spirit Cathedral: As a prominent Catholic church of Turkey, this marvellous building dating from 1846 is open from 8 a.m. to 12 noon, and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. every day except Sunday. As a place of worship, people will be praying so be respectful and quiet.

Holy Spirit Cathedral Sisli Istanbul


Shopping in Sisli: Splash the Cash in Style

Local markets usually dominate the social calendar in every town and village of Turkey but in Sisli, large, stunning, modern, all-encompassing malls capture the shopping scene. Hosting budget and luxury brand names, restaurants and entertainment centres also make them a firm favourite of families. Kanyon, Metrocity, and Profolio are all prominent shopping malls, but the star is Istanbul Cevahir AVM.

Since its grand opening in 2005, over 250 shops, restaurant, cinemas and entertainment centres have welcomed millions of people through their doors. As a symbol of Istanbul’s modern face, it’s the second largest in Europe. They say they are about more than just a shopping mall. They say “Cevahir is Istanbul and Istanbul is Cevahir.”


Nightlife and Restaurants in Sisli

When the sun goes down, and it’s time to let your hair down, Sisli residents already have a variety on their doorstep, but the jewel in the crown is just 10 minutes’ drive away in Taksim and Istiklal Avenue, the best nightlife scene in Turkey. Ortakoy, another high-profile nightlife district, 20-minutes taxi drive away attracts youngsters. Otherwise, Sisli’s wide range of restaurants serve up a variety of cuisine from Japanese to Indian to steak houses, and European and time-honoured Turkish dishes.

Frankie Istanbul’s rooftop restaurant draws in big crowds with an extensive wine cellar, choice of cocktails and live entertainment. Meanwhile elegant 34 restaurant within Grand Hyatt hotel caters for the more refined eaters by offering gluten-free, vegetarian and halal menus. The rooftop bar and restaurant, Crowd 34 within the Hilton hotel takes first place for its delicious and fresh sushi and Asian appetisers. While alfresco style and fine cuisine go down a treat in Spago by Wolfgang Puck, the list of excellent restaurants in Sisli goes on and you can spend a lifetime working through all their menus.

Spago restaurant Istanbul


Landmark Skyscraper Buildings in Sisli

Sisli is an architect’s showcase. Many award-winning landmark buildings across the urban landscape capture architect’s attention through their innovative design and appearance. Built at the cost of 240 million USD the 53-floor Diamond of Istanbul is one of its more prominent skyscrapers. Housing a luxury hotel, offices, rental apartments and shopping malls, the architect solved the common problem of parking spaces by building the carpark underground.

At one stage, the Diamond competed with Istanbul Sapphire building to see which would become the tallest building not only in Istanbul but also in Turkey. Tourists love Sapphire because its top viewing floor and restaurant give a fantastic panoramic view over Istanbul. The third most famous building doesn’t garner attention for its height but its name; Trump towers. Licensing the 45th American president’s name, the two tower buildings include apartments, offices, restaurants and shopping floors.

Sapphire building Istanbul


Prominent Areas and Streets in Sisli

Sisli has 24 neighbourhoods including Bozkurt, Cumhuriyet, Duatepe, Ergenekon, Esentepe, Eskisehir, Ferikoy, Fulya, Gulbahar, Halaskargazi, Halide Edip Adivar, Halil Rifat Pasa, Harbiye, Inonu, Izzetpasa, Kaptanpasa, Kustepe, Mahmut Sevket Pasa, Mecidiyekoy, Merkaz, Mesrutiyet, Pasa, Tesvikiye, and Yayla.

Two neighbourhoods stand out for their daily contribution. Mecidiyekoy, the business and shopping centre is a fast-paced flurry of making money, but tourists will be interested in exploring Tesvikiye in the Nisantasi quarter.  As well as promoting upmarket shopping where money is just a number, many famous residents have and still live in the residential neighbourhood. They have easy access to Abdi Ipekci avenue that outmatches upmarket streets of West Hollywood.

Halaskargazi Caddesi, another famous street in Sisli is home to Ataturk’s Museum, more shops, museums and architectural buildings of interest. Two famous buildings on this street are Kenter Theatre and further up in the section known as Cumhuriyet Caddesi, the Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus hotel which was the setting for a scene from James Bond 1963 film from Russia with Love.

Throughout time, its various names have intrigued tourists. Known as Martyr Muhtar Bey avenue pre-Turkish republican era, its name later changed to Halaskargazi Caddesi in 1927, which translates into saviour warrior, reflecting Turkey’s admiration for Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey’s founding father.


Apartments for Sale in Sisli, Istanbul

Given its prominence as a busy central district, Sisli’s real estate portfolio revolves around penthouse homes, apartments and studios. What will surprise buyers those is the price range because it accommodates everyone from first-time, budget buyers to millionaires wanting the best in luxury real estate.

Penthouses in the upmarket Nisantasi district promote a luxury lifestyle and many feature floor-to-ceiling windows for that amazing horizon view. Budget buyers and real estate investors should look for apartments for sale in the up-and-coming Bomonti neighbourhood of Sisli. Undergoing urban redevelopment to bring its reputation up to par, its long-term capital growth offers much potential. Buy-to-let investors would also do well to look at Sisli because, given its demand for hotel accommodation, rental guarantee projects are often successful.

After getting to know the Sisli area of Istanbul, also visit the neighbouring Besiktas area. Sitting on the Bosphorus shores, its countrywide reputation stems around a successful football club, yet there is more to explore including old churches, mosques, and some of Istanbul’s best parks and Ottoman palaces.

Otherwise, head across the Golden Horn, and get to know the Fatih area. While many people associate it with the historical old quarter that is Sultanahmet, there are lots more to do including Balat and Fener’s cultural heritage, visiting the famous Gulhane park and shopping in its many historical bazaars. 

Trump Towers Istanbul


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