North of the Fatih Bridge on the European shore of the Bosphorus, 13 km (8 miles) northeast of Taksim Square, is Emirgan (map), one of Istanbul's many villages on the Bosphorus.
Traditionally known for its fine, large forested garden park called the Emirgan Korusu, since 1998 it has also been known for the Sakıp Sabancı Museum, a superb private collection of paintings, calligraphy and other artwork assembled by the late Mr Sakıp Sabancı, scion of the Sabancı family industrial and commercial empire.
Want to get away from the city? Especially in April, when Istanbul's annual Tulip Festival is under way, the Emirgan Korusu (Emirgan Park) is the perfect place for a stroll, a picnic, some relaxation, a light meal, coffee or tea (no alcoholic beverages served).
Once the Istanbul estate of Khedive İsmail Pasha of Egypt (reigned 1863-1879), it was deeded to the Istanbul Municipality in the 1940s.
The Khedive (king) of Egypt built several villas in the park which still exist and serve as restaurants, cafés and meeting spaces. Best known is the Sarı Köşk (Yellow Kiosk), an Ottoman-Victorian gingerbread confection with a menu of snacks, light meals and non-alcoholic drinks, an open-air terrace, and fine Bosphorus views.
The fastest and easiest way to reach the park is to take the M2 Metro line from Yenikapı, Şişhane or Taksim north to the İTÜ-Ayazağa station, then an LF, 29Ş or 40B bus east along İstinye Bayırı Caddesi (uphill, then downhill) 4 km (2.5 miles) to the Emirgan Korusu stop. Enter the park here, and you will be walking downhill to the shore, not uphill.
After you've enjoyed the park, you can continue downhill to the Bosphorus shore, turn right, and walk the short distance to the Sakıp Sabancı Museum.
Sakıp Sabancı Museum
Built in 1925 on the orders of Prince Mehmed Ali Hasan of Egypt's royal family, the white villa overlooking the Bosphorus from the shore of Emirgan was later (1951) bought by Hacı Ömer Sabancı, founder of one of Turkey's most prominent industrial and commercial families. Hacı Ömer also bought Louis Doumas's sculpture of a horse which stands in the garde and gave the villa its modern nickname: Atlı Köşk, the Villa with a Horse.
Hacı Ömer's son Mr Sakıp Sabancı used the Atlı Köşk as his home from 1974 as he expanded the Sabancı commercial empire and also assembled his outstanding collection of Ottoman and Islamic calligraphy and books, Ottoman- and Republican-era paintings, and 18th and 19th-century Ottoman furniture and art objects.
The villa, collections and grounds were deeded to Sabancı University and opened as the Sakıp Sabancı Museum in 2002, with a further expansion in 2005. More...
Several Bosphorus cruises, most notably those of Dentur Avrasya, call at the Emirgan dock. To return to the city center by land, take any bus heading south along the Bosphorus shore to Eminönü, Kabataş, Karaköy, or Taksim Square.
—by Tom Brosnahan