The Mansions On The Bosphorus

Y is for Yali.

No, not that mythical creature from Hindu mythology, but the gorgeous waterfront mansions lining the banks of the Bosphorus!

Yali Mansions - Istanbul, Turkey

Derived from the Greek Yialos, meaning seashore, these 17th century mansions whose architectural styles can only be termed ‘eclectic’ were intended as summer abodes for the Turkish bourgeoisie, whose numbers swelled with the extension of the Ottoman empire. The size and grandeur of the Yali, proclaiming the owner’s social standing.

The facades were traditionally made of wood with panoramic windows and suspended balconies, and were generally painted a reddish brown. The later ones are paler with more elaborate detailing mimicking the spare-no-luxury opulence of European Baroque architecture.

These properties with cross-continent views are now prized pieces of real estate. Some reputed to be in the price bracket of over $100 million! If I ever return, I would be sure to seek out a Yali hotel – a modest one of course – at least for one night, and cruise down the Bosphorus in search of every famous water mansion in town.

The Bosphorus can be described as an avenue of water
surrounded by mansions one more beautiful than the other.
Believe me, if fate had granted you one of these,
you would never think of leaving to your last day.”
~ Alphonse de Lamartine</blockquote>

Happy travels to you dear people…no matter where life takes you.

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Madhu is an Interior designer turned travel blogger on a long sabbatical to explore the world. When not crafting stories on The Urge To Wander, she's probably Tweeting @theurgetowander or sharing special moments on

34 thoughts on “The Mansions On The Bosphorus

  1. Some of those mansions look like palaces. I’d like the cream coloured detached one, if I win the lottery. 😀 Now I’m also wanting to cruise down the Bosphorus on one of those Yali hotels.

  2. Your header captures a timeless period. One can only imagine the elaborate parties and teas that took place in these mansions along the water.

  3. Eli and I enjoyed a sunset cruise on the Bosphorus last October, and I recognize some of these mansions and palaces. It was indeed some prime real estate, and that is reflected in your photographs. Thanks for another great post, Madhu.

  4. Fabulous picture. It’s so interesting, it looks more like a hand drawn print than a photograph. Lovely!

  5. Beautiful mansions! I wonder how it is like living there or…cleaning it. 🙂
    Best wishes for the new year, Madhu. 🙂

  6. A tremendous post Madhu, and great shots, as usual – I remember things looked a little less spick and span when R and I were there in 76, but those houses were every bit as picturesque then as they are now. 🙂

  7. E’ l’acqua la vera essenza dell’uomo che lungo le sue rive adagia le sue case. Mi tornano in mente le Ville del Brenta, i castelli della Loira, e i canali di Venezia.
    Buon anno Madhu 🙂

  8. On the Bosphorous? Istanbul? Just come back from this gorgeous city but didn’t have time to see most things. It’s a huge city! Need to go back. The sooner the better 🙂
    Happy 2013, Madhu!

  9. Hi,
    What a gorgeous place to live, and the homes are magnificent.
    A Very Happy New Year to you and your family, Enjoy. 🙂

  10. I remember those houses so well when I took the Bosphorus cruise, especially that white palace-looking one! Oh the memories 🙂

  11. I feel much more intelligent for having known you Madhu. Thanks for another great history lesson. 🙂

  12. Never heard of … see house boats all over the world or are they on the bank- but not so magnificent like those here – beautiful and the details in the architectur

  13. Amazing how beautifully-maintained and/or restored so many of them still are — but actually I enjoyed the photo of the one in disrepair, hopefully waiting for a helpful (and wealthy) hand. Happy 2013, Madhu! ~ Kat

  14. Have enjoyed you a-z stories. I come here to learn… Thank you so much, Madhu!

  15. thank you for your YALI etymology: “Y is for Yali. No, not that mythical creature from Hindu mythology, but the gorgeous waterfront mansions lining the banks of the Bosphorus! Derived from the Greek Yialos meaning seashore…”

    1. I did it….just one more to go Frizz, yay! My readers are not going to forgive me for bombarding them with so many posts though 🙂

  16. Beautiful! I’d like to take one of those water tours as well!

    I’m so impressed that you’re being a ‘good student’ and making up your x , y and almost z for frizztext! he will surely give you good marks, for being conscientious!

    1. Its been a frantic race! Have run out of ideas for Z though! Yours was spectacular 🙂

  17. You have sent me scuttling off to look at my Bosphorus photos, sadly most are taken too far from the banks to see much of the yalis. Lovely memory though 🙂

    1. Mine aren’t that great either Gilly. Yes wonderful memories. Reliving these moments is the best part of blogging for me 🙂

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