Cankurtaran Mh., Akbıyık Cd. No:26, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Photo courtesy of Albura Kathisma
Albura Kathisma Restaurant Keeps a SecretIn the early 1990s, a Greek family refurbished a charming Ottoman home and opened Albura on the cobbled streets of Akbıyık Caddesi. The quality had locals and travelers flocking, making Albura one of the most popular restaurants in Sultanahmet. In 2009, Kathisma, a streetside terrace restaurant next-door, was added. The original family wnet on to sell the place to current owners Abuzer and Alp, who oversee the menu of succulent regional cuisine and tried-and-tested Ottoman favorites. The chef’s specials include jumbo shrimp in the wok and cevizli kuzu (lamb with walnuts). You can choose to dine inside the cozy Ottoman abode or on the elegant streetside terrace, open-air in summer and enclosed in winter. When the belly is full and the plates are cleared, wander to the back of the terrace and find the entrance to one of Istanbul’s best-kept secrets—the well-preserved Byzantine ruins of Magnaura Palace. Take your time to explore this 4th-century basilica-like structure that inspired the design of Moscow's Kremlin Palace and Venice's Basilica San Marco. Back in its heyday, the palace was decorated in gold and silver, providing a grand setting for Byzantine emperors to welcome dignitaries to Constantinople.