The Colourful Houses of Istanbul: Bright Shades On A City Landscape
In among historical buildings and new, trendy skyscrapers, the colourful houses of Istanbul add another dimension to the city. For independent travellers who get off the beaten track to explore local neighbourhoods, they are just as important as the well-known landmark buildings of the touristic Sultanahmet district.
While mainstream package tourism hardly features them, among today’s Instagram fans, they are a must add to your travel photography portfolio. Despite their popularity among the trendy crowds, do not assume their colours are a new trend. They are time-honoured additions to Istanbul’s varied architectural styles and have been around for many decades. So, if you have time while touring Turkey’s largest city, look for these intriguing displays brightening up the city landscape.
Where to Find the Colourful Houses of Istanbul
1: Houses of Stairway slope and Kiremit Streets in Balat
Istanbul’s Balat neighbourhood has always been an integral part of its network. Sitting 15 minutes’ drive from the Sultanahmet district on the European side, throughout history, it was home to many Jewish, Greek, and Armenian communities. Such is its diversity, and historical importance, UNESCO paid attention and preserved seven old houses sitting on Merdivenli Yokus.
For Instagram fans who like their filters, seven structures painted in pastel colours shine up, and for many Turks, it is a scene straight out of a soap opera. Also head towards the Fethiye mosque and walk for 5 minutes to find the three colourful houses of Kiremit Street.
Note: Most people combine a walking tour of Balat with neighbouring Fener. Both communities portray the local culture and daily life away from Istanbul’s touristic sites. Many guides and tour shops sell walking tours that take in local cafes and restaurants, churches, mosques, and other exciting landmark buildings.
2: Nostalgia in Colourful Kuzguncuk
Turks love exploring Kuzguncuk, a neighbourhood of the Uskudar district in Asian Istanbul. Everything about the community lures the eyes but keep an eye out for old repainted Ottoman mansions because not only do they display vibrant colours but also marvellous architecture from eras gone by.
You can spot these mansions and other colourful buildings everywhere but the most famous sit in Perihan Abla street. It is worth taking a full day out to explore Kuzguncuk, and other highlights like the old churches, mosques art galleries and small boutique shops because as another well-kept secret, it perfectly portrays local community culture.
3: Take a Bosphorus Cruise
Buy a ferry cruise ticket for the Bosphorus, choose an advantageous seat looking out and watch colour slowly drift by, as you pass the many villages and their colourful Yali houses. Also known as Bosphorus mansions, some sell for millions of pounds, and as Turkey’s most expensive real estate market received much attention. Some like the Hekimbasi Yalisi stand out with a vibrant deep red colour, while others like Arnavutkoy’s wooden Yali mansions with softer pastel blue and pink colours brighten the mood.
More About the Bosphorus
- Istanbul’s Bosphorus Yali mansions: Iconic houses dominating the real estate market
- Bosphorus Villages: Charming villages to explore for a cultural insight into this critical strait of water
Other Colourful Places in Istanbul
If homes do not satisfy your search for colour in Turkey’s biggest city, other places worth looking for include three hotels in Yerebatan street of the Sultanahmet district displaying vivid pink, blue and yellow exteriors.
While some people hate graffiti, fans call it urban street art and Istanbul, one of the world’s most famous places for talented art, has a significant portfolio adorning walls and building exteriors. The Kadikoy district is a prime spot featuring pieces like Bambino by Pixel Pancho.
Beyoglu’s rainbow steps connecting the Findikli and Cihangir neighbourhoods dominate Instagram. The original man who painted them said he did so to make people smile. Last, Istanbul is a must-visit during April, when the tulip festival brightens up parks and gardens all over the city with intricate displays.
Also of Interest
Istanbul Housing Styles: Look beyond the colourful houses of Istanbul to their architectural styles, and you will see a story unravel in front of your eyes. Talking about their wooden architecture, we see a building style no longer used; hence a unique need for preservation.
Istanbul’s Tallest Buildings: From the ground to the air, what better way to see a city than with an all-encompassing panoramic horizon view. This article lists four tall skyscrapers and their journey to dominating the list of the world’s tallest structures.