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Istanbul's Arnavutkoy embracing change for centuries

Arnavutkoy, Istanbul's chic district, struggles to keep its multiculturalism and serenity through the 21st century.

A row of elegant late-18th- and early-19th-century yali (wooden mansions) lines the Bosporus waterfront at Arnavutkoy. More wooden houses dot the slopes behind them. According to Rick Steves’ Turkey travel guide Mert Taner, they were originally summer houses. Arnavutkoy is ideally placed for escaping the heat from the 18th century on, but its story as a multicultural neighborhood began long before that.

Arnavutkoy's history dates back to the third century A.D., and its name — like its residents — has changed over time. The first settlers were Greek; they called the area Hestia for the lime quarries atop the hill on the European side of the Bosporus. Over the next 10 centuries, it became Promotu, then Anaplus and then Mega Revma. Arnavutkoy sits at the point where waters from the Black Sea meet those of the Sea of Marmara, creating a fast running and dangerous tide. Locals call this spot Akinti Burnu (Tidal Point). 

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