Walking the streets of Istanbul

Istanbul is such a city that it separates the Asian and European continents with a strait and connects it with a bridge. The heart of Istanbul beats around this strait on two separate sides. It contains many civilizations and nations such as Byzantine, Genoese, and Ottoman in its history. 

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Even now, it maintains its cosmopolitan nature and has become a place where people live in fraternity. Turkey is very much located within different regions and cultures of the people who had migrated to Istanbul and this has been a part of many voice choirs.

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Historical Peninsula

The first place tourists come to in Istanbul is the historical peninsula. Here are Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapı Palace, Gulhane Park. Hagia Sophia is a sacred and unique old basilica structure for many nations around the world. It has a planning scheme that combines the central plan system with the basilica plan system. It was built in 537 during the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I. This basilica was used as a mosque in the Ottoman period and later as a museum. It remained the largest dome for centuries.

Right across Hagia Sophia is the Blue Mosque, which has a shared square with it. Because the mosque is decorated with blue, green, and white Iznik tiles, it was named Blue Mosque by Europeans. Its Turkish name is known as Sultan Ahmet Mosque because it was built during the period of Ottoman Sultan Ahmet. Its construction was completed in 1617. It has 6 minarets.

Topkapı Palace is located just behind Hagia Sophia. It was built during the period of Ottoman Fatih Sultan Mehmet who conquered Istanbul from the Byzantine Empire. It includes sections such as education, administration, and the residence of the palace people.

One of the doors of Topkapı Palace opens to Gulhane Park. Located under the palace, this park is open to the public. There are old plane trees. The Alay Mansion inside was used as a small library.

We reach Sirkeci bypassing Gulhane. The old European train station is located here. We arrive at Eminonu bypassing Sirkeci Station and the Old Post Office. 

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Eminonu

The New Mosque and Spice Bazaar in Eminonu are the most visited places in the center. Eminonu is famous for its fishing boats. It has a coast to the Golden Horn, which is the recess of the Bosphorus. If you look at the back hill, you can see Selimiye Mosque, Blue Mosque Hagia Sophia, the famous building of Architect Sinan. 

When you look at the opposite hill, you can see the stone buildings of Karakoy, which is opposite the Golden Horn, and the famous Galata Tower. At the same time, it is a viewpoint that dominates the opposite shores of the Bosphorus. We take our fish bread and walk across the Galata Bridge, cross the Golden Horn and reach the Karakoy shore.

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Karakoy-Galata Tower-Istıklal Street

Karakoy reflects the European spirit of Istanbul. Karakoy, Galata, and Beyoglu buildings are Genoese and Greek mixed structures. We are connected to Galata Tower by climbing the slopes between large old stone buildings. Galata Tower is an old fire tower built-in 1348. It is an example of a Romanesque architectural style. It is 35 meters long. Over time, it has reached its current famous appearance. The current cone roof was added later.

The peak is reached by leaving the small square where Galata Tower is located and walking upwards. This is the head of Istiklal Street. It is a pedestrian path from one end of the street to the other. You can go to the end with the historical tram that passes through the middle. The street connects to Taksim Square. 

Of course, the most beautiful places on this street can be seen when we pass by walking. You will have the chance to witness unique works such as consulate buildings, historical iconic apartments, the most famous churches of Istanbul, Galatasaray High School, one of the oldest schools since the Ottoman Empire. Walking on this street is an important part of Istanbul.

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Taksim Square

At the end of this street, Taksim Square shows up. This square is the center of many political events in the political history of Turkey. It is also a very important touristic destination. The 50th Anniversary monument in Taksim square is the defining element of the square. From here, you can go down to Kabatas pier on foot or by the funicular line.

Dolmabahce Palace

By going down to the pier, you will be next to the Dolmabahce Palace, which is dazzling with its architecture from the late Ottoman period. The palace reflects Baroque, Rococo, and Neo-Classicism movements with a skillful combination. This palace is also the place where the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s death. The room where he died is preserved as it was on that day. From here, you can go to the Asian side by using Besiktas or Kabatas piers.

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Bosphorus

While watching the unique Bosphorus view on the ferry, you will dominate the whole of Istanbul. You will take a cruise against the Bosphorus Bridge, the necklace of the Bosphorus. Don’t forget to eat a Turkish bagel with a glass of Turkish tea on the ferry.

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Uskudar and Maiden’s Tower

You can go to Üsküdar, one of the famous historical districts of the opposite shore, and visit the magnificent mosques of Mimar Sinan on the coastline. Such as Mihrimah Sultan Mosque, Semsi Ahmed Pasha Mosque….etc.  

Afterward, you can sit against the Maiden’s Tower, which is the leading role of the legends and is also narrated as the beloved Galata Tower, and watch a magnificent visual feast.

Author

Merve has been an observer and storyteller since she knew herself. She tells, draws, takes photographs and uses all the means at her disposal to share her observations. Architecture is her method of seeing people, nature and art together. That's why it has become her passion from a young age. She wants to interpret humanity problems related to architecture from her own point of view, to produce solutions and to bring a new perspective to humanity.

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