It is located on the promontory of the historical peninsula in İstanbul which overlooks both the Marmara Sea and the Bosphorus. The walls enclosing the palace grounds, the main gate on the land side and the first buildings were constructed during the time of Fatih Sultan Mehmet (the Conqueror) (1451 - 81). The palace has taken its present layout with the addition of new structures in the later centuries. Topkapı Palace was the official residence of the Ottoman Sultans, starting with Fatih Sultan Mehmet until 1856, when Abdumecid moved to the Dolmabahçe palace, functioned as the administrative centre of the state. The Enderun section also gained importance as a school.
During the 18th century when the Topkapı palace took its final shape, it was sheltering a population of more than 10.000 in its outer (Birun) and inner (Enderun) and Harem sections. It shows no archirectural unity as new parts were added in every period according to the needs. However, this enables us to follow the stages Ottoman Architecture went through from the 15th to the middle of the 19th century at the Topkapı Palace. The buildings of the 15th - 17th centuries are simpler and those of the 18th - 19th centuries, particularly in terms of exterior and interior ornamentation are more complex.
Topkapı Palace was converted to a museum in 1924. Parts of the Palace such as the Harem, Baghdat Pavilion, Revan Pavilion, Sofa Pavilion, and the Audiance Chamber distinguish themselves with their architectural assets,while in other sections artefacts are displayed which reflect the palace life. The museum also has collections from various donations and a library.
This European in style palace was built between 1844 and 1855 by Garabet and Nikogos Balyan on land reclaimed at the beginning of the 17th century,and is noted for its omate exterior omamentation.Sultan Abdulmecid moved here in 1856 and it was the residence of Sultan Abdulazia for 15 years.Mustafa Kemal Ataturk,the founder of the Turkish Republic,where he stayed during his visits to Istanbul.The palace is currently a museum,containing a magnificent array of original furnishings.
Beylerbeyi, in which the Asian Tower of Bosphorus Bridge was constructed, is a beautiful district allotted for palaces since the Byzantium era. Sultan Abdulaziz built the Palace, to replace the older, wooden palace, between 1861 and 1865. Eastern and Turkish motifs are used with Western design elements, on the sides and for internal decoration, and the atmosphere is something resembling that of Dolmabahce Palace.
The building comprises of three floors, and contains 26 rooms and six halls, which includes the harem and men's greeting rooms. The interior is decorated with Bohemian chandeliers, valuable tiles and ceramic vases. Silver-edged furniture and luxurious carpets add something to the beauty, and even till today the authentic furniture, carpets, curtains and other property have been well preserved.
A big pool, terraces and stables, face at the back of cliff. A road and tunnel, used until 1970, passed under the palace garden and were used by the most distinguished foreign dignitaries when visiting the palace.
Known as the 'Sultan Ahmet Mosque' by local people, it was built by Sultan Ahmet in 1609 and completed in 7 years, although foreigners have taken to calling it the ' Blue Mosque ' because of the beautiful blue Iznik tiles decorating the interior.
The architect who oversaw its design was Sedefkar Mehmet Aga, better known as a student of Sinan (the greatest architect ever seen in the Ottoman Empire). Not only was it built to serve as a mosque, but its huge surrounding complex also held a medrese (theological school), turbe (tomb), hospital, caravaserai, primary school, public kitchen and market, although the hospital and caravanserai were destroyed in the nineteenth century. After the public kitchens were destroyed in a fire in 1970, they were restored and incorporated into the School of Industrial Art. It presently serves as the Dean's Office for the Marmara University.
Built by the greatest architect of the Ottoman Empire - Sinan, between 1550 -1557, Suleymaniye Mosque stands as undoubtedly his greatest work in Istanbul. Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, who enjoyed the longest reign in the Ottoman Empire, between 1520-1566, gave the order for its construction. The mosque also holds the tombs of the Sultan and his lover Hurrem
Rustem Pasa Mosque
This is the mosque with a central dome and a single minaret that arises amidst the rows of shops and storehouses near the Spice Bazaar. It creates a beautiful sight in the busiest commercial center in the city, together with the Stileymaniye Mosque on the slope behind. The architect Sinan built the mosque in 1561 for the Grand Vizier Riistem Pasa. Spiraling staircases go up to the structure that is set above a row of shops. The interesting courtyard is actually a small terrace covered by five small domes.
The central dome rises atop four wall pillars and four columns, two on each side. Over the corners of the square space are four semidomes supporting the main dome. There are galleries behind the columns on the sides. The facade and the small, but attractive interior are decorated with the finest examples of Iznik tiles. The geometrical and leaf and flower motifs on the tiles give the interior a colorful flower garden appearance. The embossed coral-red color was used only for a short time in the 16th century.
Ever since it was first built,people have been awed by the splendid decoration of Haghia Sophia,one of Istanbul's foremost historical monuments,and above all by the sheer scale of the interior,whith its soaring central dome.When the church was built the bold construction of this great dome was ascribed to supernatural forcesand it became an important symbol of mysticism during the Middle Ages.According to the ecclesiastical historian Socrates,who lived in Istanbul between 380 and 440 A.D.,the first church on the site was erected by the Emperor Constantine I.Dedicated to the Sacred Wisdom,or the Holy Ghost of the Christain trinity,it was named Haghia Sophia,The church lived through a succession of rebellions,emperors and governments before entering a new era with the capture of the city by the Ottoman armies under the command of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror in 1453.Haghia Sophia is today a museum.
The Archaeology Museum consists of two separate buildings.
I) MAIN BUILDING (OLD BUILDING)
Its construction was started in 1881 by Osman Hamdi Bey and with the additions in 1902 and 1908 it gained its latest form. Its architect is Alexander Vallaury. The outer face of the building was made by inspiring from the İskender Tomb and Crying Women tombs. It is a beautiful example of neoclassical buildings in Istanbul.
On the upper floor of the two storey building there are small stone works, pots and pans, small terracotta statues, the Treasure Department and approximately 800.000 Ottoman coins, seals, decorations, medals and Non-Muslim and Muslim Coin Cabinets, in which coin moulds were kept, and a Library with approximately 70.000 books.
On the bottom floor saloons of the building, famous tombs are displayed such as İskender Tomb, Crying Women Tomb, Satrap Tomb, Lykia Tomb, Tabnit Tomb that are in the Sayda king graveyard.
On the bottom floor, besides the display of tombs, there is Old Age Statuary display in which statues and reliefs from important antic cities and regions are displayed. In this display, the development of the art of statuary from the Archaic Period to the Byzantium Period is displayed in chronological order with outstanding examples.
II) ADDITIONAL BUILDING (NEW BUILDING)
The additional building attached to the southeast of the main building is of 6 storeys. There are depots in the two storeys under the ground floor.
The four storeys of the building are arranged as exhibition saloons. There is an inscription "Istanbul for Ages"on the first floor of the building, "Anatolia and Troia for Ages"on the second floor and "Surrounding Cultures of Anatolia: Cyprus, Syria-Palestine"on the top floor. There is Infant Museum and architectural works display on the first floor of the additional building. The Thrakia-Bithynia and Byzantium display saloon, which was opened in August 1998, can be visited on the floor with the name of "Surrounding Cultures of Istanbul".
The museum has received the European Council Museum Award in 1991, which is its 100. Establishment Anniversary, with the new arrangement made in the lower floor saloons and the Additional Building display.
St. Irene (Aya İrini) This ranks as the first church built in Istanbul. It was commissioned by Constantine in the 4th century, and Justinian later had it restored. The building reputedly stands on the site of a pre-Christian temple.
Nearby Aya Sofia is the 6th century Byzantine underground Basilica cistern, with 335 massive Corinthian columns supporting the immense chamber's fine brick vaulting. This is one of several buried into the city's foundations, and the first to have been excavated and renovated. Thought to have been built in the 4th century by the emperor Constantine, then enlarged two centuries later, it was supplied with water from Belgrade Forest, amd supplied it to the Great Palace and Topkapi Palace.
The Military Museum
Highlight of this museum is definitely the Mehter Takimi, the Ottoman military band, which performs every afternoon between 15.00--16.00. It also has a good collection of Ottoman military memorabilia, like the cotton and silk tents used by the sultans at war, and armour and weaponry like heavily decorated jambiyah daggers.
The band, which originated in 1289, became an institution which came to symbolise the power and independence of the Ottoman empire, and these musicians, who were janissaries, always accompanied the Sultans into battle. But quite apart from their benefit on the battlefield, they came to create new musical styles in Europe, and even influencing Mozart and Beethoven.
It fell into disuse and was then restored in 1987 with the mud and water removed, and narrow raised pathways providing easy access for visitors. It is the largest covered cistern in the city, measuring 140 by 70 metres.
his is actually Kariye Mosque, once the 11th century church of St Saviour in Chora, is considered to be the most important Byzantine monument in Istanbul, after Aya Sofia. Whilst unremarkable in its architecture, the interior walls are decorated with superb 14th century mosaics. Illustrating scenes from the life of Christ and the Virgin Mary, these brilliantly colored paintings embody the vigour of Byzantine art. The restored wooden houses in the surrounding area are a good place for relaxation and refreshment.
The church was probably built in the early 12th century, of which only the nave and central apse remain. Theodore Metochites rebuilt it between 1316 and 1321, the same years from which the mosaics and frescoes date, which depict the life of Christ in picture-book fashion. There is a series of mosaics in the form of devotional panels in the narthexes, the theme of which is reflected in the frescoes in the nave and funerary chapel.
This park alongside Aya Sophia and Blue Mosque used to be the venue for sporting events, ceremonies, celebrations and even uprisings. The fourth century arena had a race track where chariot and horse races, javelin throwing and gladiator duels-to-the-death took place under the eyes of the Byzantine Emperor and his subjects, up to 100,000. The winner was presented with gold or had his statue erected on the central spina, or platform, of which there were about 25.
A number of barbaric historical events arose here. The first was in the sixth century when Emperor Justinian raised local taxes. A huge riot resulted until it was quashed with the massacre of 35,000 citizens here. The second misfortune hit with the arrival of the Latin Crusaders in 1204. Having laid siege to the city, they subsequently pillaged all the statues and works of art from the Hippodrome and destroyed it. Thirdly, in 1826, after the Sultan's Janissary Corps had become wildly corrupt and were running riot across the city, they were finally surrounded in the Hippodrome by his new Asian troops and slaughtered.
Three monuments adorned the spina which still remain today. The Egyptian Obelisk of Theodesius, over 3500 years old, was brought here from Egypt in the fourth century by ship, during which time two thirds of the monument was lost. A marble engraved base was added by the Byzantines depicting the Emperor at various chariot races and celebrations.
There is also the Serpentine Column from the fifth century BC, initially erected in the Temple of Apollo at Delphi after the Greeks defeated the Persians. Their captives' shields were melted down and resculpted into a monument of 3 spiraling and intertwining serpents (symbolizing health) with projecting heads, which carried a gold platform and vase. The Crusaders soon made fast work of the gold ornaments. When Mehmet the Conqueror arrived almost 250 years later, he decapitated one serpent head with his sword to signal his new power over the city.
Nearby is the Column of Constantine from the sixth century. Holes in its limestone surface indicate there had been a previous coating of bronze, engraved with Greek verses but little is known about it today as it is long since pillaged by the Crusaders.
One more monument that marks the Hippodrome is the German Fountain of Wilheim II, a nineteenth century gift to the city following his visit.
Ahmet III Fountain
Sultanahmet Fountain (III. Ahmet Fountain) : Also known as Ahmet III Fountain, it lies in front of Bab-I Humayun, the gate of Topkapi Palace. Considered an artistic masterpiece, it is intricately decorated with wooden eaves, masonry and bronze calligraphy. It is altogether different to the period's more classical, modest style, and became a unique example of an elegant, rich beauty
The Maiden's Tower
Kiz Kulesi,the Maiden's Tower,is Istanbul's best-known landmark.This attractive small building set on a rocky islet and the mouth of the Bosphorus has been used over the centuries as a watch tower and lighthouse.Today,however,it houses a cafe and restaurant with unsurpassed views,Some Western writers have referred to it as Leander's Tower in reference to the storyof Leander who drowned while swimming to reach his beloved Hero.Another story relates that once upon a time an emperor of Istanbul dreamed that his daughter would be poisoned by a snake,and to save her this fate locked her up in this tower.But destiny was not to be evaded,and and adder concealed in a basket of fruit brought about the girl's death.
Within the grounds of the central building of Istanbul's University, (formerly the palace of Mehmet the Conqueror) this wooden tower was built for fire watchers, and remains a landmark throughout the city. Mahmud II demolished it in order to construct a better one, and according to the inscription, he ordered a rock-filled tower in 1828 to be built by the Ministry of Defense. The monument is 50m high, and from the upper landing, accessible via wooden staircase, offers a superb overview of the city.
The foundations of the Galata Tower ,known as the Great Bastion in Byzantine sources ,were originally laid in the y ear 528A.D.,It was constructed by the Genoese with special permission from the Byzantines in the 14th or 15th century.The tower stands on a point that dominates both the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn,and during the reign of Sultan Murad IV Hezarfen Ahmed Celebistrapped wings onto his back and leaping off the tower flew over the Bosphorus.After the First World War,the tower served as a lighthouse,but today houses a restaurant popular with local and foreign visitors.
The Bosphorus,which originally meant " the ford of the calf ",has been the subject of many legends down the ages.It was formed when the land sank long ago in geological time.Joining the Mediterranean to the Black Sea,this secnic strait enchants Istanbul residents and visitors alike."
971 meters of the originally more than 1-km aqueduct which carried water to Constantinople until the end of the 19th Century still stands today. At its highest point, the aqueduct reaches a height of 29 meters. Of this monument a great part (971 meters) is still preserved, but appears much lower than in the Roman and Byzantine times, since the surrounding ground level has risen up to 6 m. The aqueduct transported water, which came from two different supply systems, over the little valley between the fourth and third hills of Constantinople. It was finally stored in a great reservoir: the famous underground "Basilica Cistern", one of Istanbul's most popular touristic sites, where also a scene of the James Bond film "From Russia With Love" was shot. The aqueduct was completed at the time of the late Roman emperor Valens, but its plans were already made at the time of the Roman emperor Constantine The Great, who moved the capital of the Roman Empire from Rome to Constantinople (Istanbul) in 330 AD.It is announced as World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization)
İstanbul is an international art and cultural center. The International Arts and Cultural Festival is held each year in June and July with famous artists coming from all over the world. These performances are held mostly at the Ataturk Cultural Center. The İstanbul Science Center (Bilim Merkezi), founded by the Science Center Foundation and located on the campus of İstanbul Technical University, has hands-on experimental and theoretical opportunities for adults and children of various educational levels. In March and April you can lake in the International Film Festival. Those who enjoy classical music can hear it at the Cemal Reşit Rey Hall. Operas, operettas, ballets, films, concerts, exhibitions and conferences all contribute to the cultural palette of the city.
İstanbul also has a rich program of light entertainment. Nightclubs provide splendid entertainment throughout dinner, ranging from a selection of Turkish songs to belly-dancing. Alongside these are modern discos, cabarets, and jazz clubs in the Taksim-Harbiye district. In Sultanahmet, there are a number of restaurants in restored Byzantine and Ottoman buildings which offer a unique setting for an evening out.
Kumkapı, with its many taverns, bars and fish restaurants, is another attractive district. People have been meeting for years at Çicek Pasajı in the district of Beyoğlu for snacks and seafood specialties. Also in the area near Çiçek Pasajı is the narrow Nevizade Street, which is the best place in İstanbul for eating Turkish specialties and drinking rakı, the special Turkish drink.
On the Bosphorus, Ortaköy is the best place for nightlife in İstanbul, with its nightclubs, jazz clubs, line seafood restaurants and bars.
In Eminönu, do not miss the opportunity of seeing the fishermen dressed in traditional Ottoman dollies and their Ottoman-style boats on which you may board to sample their delicious fried fish.
You may also want to visit Tatilya Cumhuriyeti, a large amusement park in Beylikduzu, past Haramidere on the road to the Ataturk International Airport.
The Grand Bazaar
The Grand Bazaar first saw its beginnings as 2 wooden bedestans, or warehouses with individual cells for stalls, named the Cevahir Bedesten and Sandal Bedesten, erected during Mehmet the Conqueror's reign towards the end of the fifteenth century. The chance of being destroyed by fire necessitated that they be rebuilt in stone and they have since been absorbed into the core of the Bazaar today. Originally its profits were to go to compensate the ongoing expenses of the Aya Sophia. It invariably grew and expanded, as did its trade, incorporating more and more shops into its environs. Today it covers an entire area of 30 hectares and has almost 4400 shops, 40 hans (a type of night stop-over where dealers could unload their wares) and encompasses over 60 streets.
Its nucleus consists of 3 parallel streets between Nurosmaniye and Beyazit, the first comprising mostly of jewelery outlets, the second of carpets, and the third of textiles. In the days gone by, each class of wares operated under a traditional guild system whereby one stall having reached a particular target sale that day would then direct further customers to other stalls in that guild. In this way they supported each others trade and formed a closely knit family. However this tradition no longer continues today.
It is the oldest and biggest closed bazaar in the world, also known as the Grand Bazaar, has around 4000 shops and over 60 alleyway, covering a huge labyrinth in the city centre. The original two structures, covered with a series of domes and remains of the 15th century walls, became a shopping area by covering the surrounding streets and adding to it over the following centuries. In Ottoman times this was the centre of trading, and a vital area of town. The Sandal Bedesten was added during Suleyman's reign, to cope with the rising trade in fabrics, during the 16th century.
Traditionally the more valuable goods were in the old central area, called Ic Bedesten, because it was more secure. As quite typical of the area, most streets are laid out and devoted to a particular trade, for example gold on Kuyumcular Caddesi, leather on Bodrum Han, and shoes on Kavaflar Sokak. But the trade has also spilled out onto the surrounding streets, and it is very common to see Russian traders buying up huge sacks of leather jackets or shoes outside the main entrance. Even the streets leading to the Golden Horn are lined with outdoor stalls, which have traditional,, ly been controlled by strict trading laws to reduce competition between traders.
Apart from the usual shops selling clothes, textiles, jewellry and car, pets, there are small workshops, where craftsmen cast and beat silver or brass, in a skilled trade handed down through the generations. If all that shopping, bargaining and fending off persuasive salesmen is a , little too tiring, there are also traditional cafes dotted inside the bazaar in whi, ch to relax, eat and sip tea. There are also , , , money-changing booths inside and out. It is slightly , less crowded during weekdays, as most locals shop at weekends.
Also known as the Spice Market, this is Istanbul's second bazaar, constructed in the same complex as Yeni Camii (or New Mosque). There are six gates, which make it an attractive exterior. The L-shaped market, together with the mosque, were built for the mother of Mehmet IV, a powerful woman who ruled the harem and, some would say, much of the empire.
Although no longer the prime spice trading area of the city, there is still the aroma of ginger, cardamom, pepper and saffron from the piles of spices sold from many stalls. These days it is also popular for great varieties of lokum (turkish delight), small souvenirs, flavoured teas and local delicacies --- including the dubious sounding "Turkish Viagra". Locals come here to shop for bed linen and towels, as well as for fruit and vegetables, coffee, clothes, pots and pans in the surrounding cramped backstreets. Outside the market on the Galata Bridge end, is this is the best place to choose olives from huge barrels, and many varieties of beyaz penir (white cheese).
İstiklal Avenue is one of the most famous avenus in Istanbul, Turkey, visited by nearly 3 million people in a single day over the course of weekends. Located in the historic Beyoğlu district, it is an elegant pedestrian street, approximately three kilometers long, which houses exquisite boutiques, music stores, boo, kstores, art galleries, cinemas, theaters, libraries, caf??s, pubs, night clubs with live music, historical patisseries, chocolateries and restaurants. The avenue, surrounded by the unique nineteenth century Turkish architecture, starts from the medieval Genoese neighbourhood around Galata Tower and ultimately leads up to Taksim Square .
Originally called the Cite de Pera, Çiçek Pasajı is a famous historic passage on İstiklal Avenue in the Beyoğlu district of Istanbul It connects İstiklal Avenue with Sahne Street.
Opened in 1876, the 19th century Çiçek Pasajı can be described as a miniature version of the famous Galleria in Milan, Italy, and has rows of historic pubs, winehouses and restaurants.
The site of Çiçek Pasajı was originally occupied by the Naum Theatre, which was burned during the Fire of Pera in 1870. The theatre was frequently visited by Sultans Abdulaziz and Abdulhamid II, and hosted Giuseppe Verdi's play Il Trovatore before the opera houses of Paris.
Bagdat Avenue is a notable high street located in the Anatolian part of İstanbul, Turkey. It can be seen as the counterpart of Istiklal Avenue on the European side in terms of importance and glamour. The avenue runs 6 km from Bostancı to Kızıltoprak, almost parallel to the coastline of the Sea of Marmara, within the district of Kadıköy.
It is a main street in an upper-scale residential area. The one-way avenue with old plane trees is flanked with shopping malls, department stores, fashion garment stores, elegant shops offering world famous brands, restaurants of international and local cuisine, pubs and cafes, luxury car dealers and bank agencies. Bağdat Avenue can also be considered as a large open-air shopping mall. Most of the retail stores are open on all days of the week, including Sunday afternoon.
In summer time and on weekends, the sidewalks of the avenue are crowded with people window-shopping and youngsters lingering around. Traffic congestion is almost a standard situation on the three-lane Bağdat Avenue.
Since the 1960s street racing has been a sub-culture of the avenue, where young wealthy men tag-raced their imported muscle cars. Most of these young men are now middle-agers reliving their years of excitement as famous professional rally or track racers. With the heightened GTI and hot hatch culture starting in the 1990s, street-racing was revived in full. Towards the end of the 1990s, mid-night street racing caused many fatal accidents, which came to a minumum level thanks to intense police patrol.Lately, the pressure has been relaxed and there are signs of a new trend catching on called drifting.
The neighbourhoods on the route westwards are: Bostancı, Çatalçeşme, Suadiye, Şaşkınbakkal, Erenköy, Caddebostan, Göztepe, Çiftehavuzlar, Selamiçeşme, Feneryolu and Kızıltoprak.
The area around Bağdat Avenue has a variety of transportation alternatives in addition to the bus and taxi options. There are Seabus (high-speed catamaran ferry) terminals in Kadıköy and Bostancı, and a regional rail running just north of the avenue, which serves the district. Bostancı also has a quay for the traditional commuter ferries, which provide connection with the European part of the city as well as the nearby Princes' Islands.