After a Metro ride, my three Level 1 students took me to Eminönü, now a neighbourhood of Fatih district. This is the heart of the walled city of Constantine. From left to right: Aslan, Miraç and Hezar. You can see the Galata Tower in the background. To the left is the Galata Bridge, where we had lunch.
I’ve bragged about my Level 1 students before. They are exceptional English students and they really study hard. But they are also great people. Yesterday, they took me out. They got to practice English. I got to see more of this amazing city!
Balek Ekmek–fish bread, or a fish sandwich. It was very fresh and tasty. A great lunch under the Galata Bridge, something that’s been on my list to do!
Here’s an activity you won’t see in The States! The gun uses pellets to shoot balloons. She’s a pretty good shot, too!
Hezar poses by this cute tree in Gülhane Park, originally part of the grounds of Topkapı Palace.
Taking a break in Gülhane Park. The name means rose house.
Aslan has fun in Gülhane Park.
The entry gate to Istanbul University from Beyazıt Square. Hezar goes to school here. The Square is the former site of the Forum of Theodosius built by Constantine the Great. This is the site of the first Ottoman palace, used by Mehmet the Conqueror while Topkapi Palace was under construction. You can just see the top of the tower in the right side of the picture. Beyazıt Tower was originally wooden and was built as a fire watch tower. Ironically, it burned down and was replaced with this one.
We walked to the top of the hill to this is a cemetery, part of the Suleiman mosque complex. It was closing as we got there, so we couldn’t stay long or go into the mausoleum. In the garden behind the main mosque there are two mausoleums (türbe) including the tombs of Sultan Suleiman I, his wife Hürrem Sultan (Roxelana) and their daughter Mihrimah Sultan. The sultans Suleiman II, Ahmed II and also Saliha Dilaşub Sultan and Safiye Sultan (died in 1777), the daughter of Mustafa II, are buried here.
Just right of center is the Galata Tower. Below are the waters of the Bosphorus. The towers in the front are chimneys, originally part of the kitchen complex.
Aren’t they good looking? They sit on a wall overlooking the Bosphorus.
The Süleymaniye Mosque is part of a huge complex, or külliye, with adjacent structures to service both religious and cultural needs. Originally, it contained a hospital, kitchens to feed the poor, a hamam (public bath), library, schools and much more.
This is my first view of the interior. I had taken a special side tour in 2008 when I came here as a tourist. This mosque was to be the highlight of that tour, but the interior was closed for renovations and cleaning. Obviously, they did a great job. I felt lucky to come here.
Interior of the Süleymaniye Camii (mosque). The construction work began in 1550 and the mosque was finished in 1558, but today it looks brand new. Women are required to wear a head covering. Everyone takes off their shoes.
The ceiling is amazing. Everything is so clean and perfect. Located on the 3rd hill of Istanbul (there are 7 hills, just like Rome), it is the largest mosque in the city, and one of the best-known sights of Istanbul. It’s easy to see from the waterfront.
The inner court of the Süleymaniye Mosque.
The Bosphorus Bridge. Below it is the Beylerbeyi Palace. “Bey” is the Turkish word for “man” or “gentleman.” The ending “-ler” (or “lar” depending on the word) makes it plural. Not sure if this makes the palace a “gentlemen’s gentleman” or what?
Today, I took a cruise from the mouth of the Golden Horn’s Galata Bridge down the Bosphorus. It was just a two hour cruise, so we did not go all the way to the Black Sea. This strait divides the city of Istanbul as well as the continents of Asia and Europe. The water flows from the Sea of Marmara (and the Mediterranean) to the Black Sea. I wish this had been a narrated cruise, but I have a good guidebook, so knew most of what I was seeing.
On top of our cruise boat. The canopy was quickly pulled back and we were in full sun the entire trip.
Leaving port, beside the Galata Bridge.
Going beneath the Galata Bridge. That’s the New Mosque on the shore.
Even cruise ships stop here.
On the water is the Kabatas pier, where I boarded a ferry yesterday to go to the Prince’s Islands. The Mosque is part of the Dolmabahce Palace and you can see the ornate palace clock tower just to the right of the mosque.
Dolmabahce Palace is an opulent early 19th century palace with a series or ornate gates along the waterfront, used the the sultan on the royal barge.
The Mecidiye Mosque on the European side with the Bosphorus Bridge in the background. Notice the crowd on men with their foreheads touching the ground. This scene is one of 5 times a day that men pray.
This small island is now a pool and restaurant.
It was a very sunny day, almost too bright for photos, so I’m lucky so many came out well. At the end of June, it is surprisingly cool. Temps this week stayed below 80F, while my old stomping ground of “Hotlanta” is above 90F.
Here is our first good view of the Fortress of Europe rising above and to the left of the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge.
Bebek, famous for its marzipan. Oddly, the name means “baby” in Turkish. Most of the current homes are of stone and concrete, but originally, the fashionable summer homes and elegant villas along the Bosphorus were called yalti and made of wood.
The Egyptian Consulate in Bebek, a suburb of Istanbul. Built in the late 19th century, it is the only remaining monumental architecture in Bebek, once the home of the Ottoman elite. It’s still a fashionable address, however. This building shows the influence of Art Nouveau, with wrought iron railings worked into a leaf design.
On the Asian side of the bridge, hidden from view is the Fortress of Asia. It was build 50 years earlier than the Fortress of Europe as part of a failed attempt in 1396 by Beyazit I to take Constantinople.
This was our turn around spot–the Fortress of Europe and the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge (Mehmet the Conquer). This is the narrowest part of the Bosphorus and the waters flow fastest here. It was at this point that the Persian emperor Darius and his army crossed the Bosphorus on a pontoon bridge in 512BCE, on their way to fight the Greeks. We can see only one of the two famous fortresses that face each other across the waters here. The Fortress of Europe was built in just 4 months by Mehmet II (the Conquer) in 1452, as a prelude to his invasion of Constantinople the following year. The Fortress of Asia is on the other side.
Just left of center you can see a young boy fishing. The two towers behind are part of a military school.
The Beylerbeyi Palace, beneath the Bosphorus Bridge. The bridge was the first to be built across the strait. Construction began in 1970. It is the world’s ninth longest suspension bridge, with a length of 1,074 m. The Beylerbeyi Palace was build for Sultan Abdul Aziz in 1861 as a summer residence. Empress Eugenie of France visited (on her way to the opening of the Suez Canal) and had her face slapped by the Sultan’s mother for daring to enter the palace on the arm of the Sultan. Other regal visitors include the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
Close up of one of the Bathing Pavilions of the Beylerbeyi Palace. There were two: one for men and one for women.
Leander’s Tower was built on an islet in the 18th century. It once served as a quarantine center during a cholera outbreak. It’s also been a lighthouse, customs port and toll gate. Now it’s a restaurant. The tower is known in Turkish as Maiden’s Tower after a story about a princess who was confined here when a prophet foretold that she would die from a snakebite. Her father forced her to live here to protect her. The snake showed up in a basket of figs and the princess died anyway. The English name comes from the Greek myth of Leanders, who swam the Hellespont (Dardanelles) to see his lover, Hero.
The mosque on the left is the New Mosque (Yeni Cami) and the one in the center is the Suleyman Mosque.
On the Asian side, the Galata tower is one of the most recognizable features on the Golden Horn. It is 65 meters tall. It’s origins date for the 6th century where it was used to monitor shipping. The Ottomans turned it into a prison. In the 18yh century, aviation pioneer Hazarfan Ahmet Celebi attached wings to his arms and “flew” from it.
Back in port again. That’s the Suleyman Mosque, with four minarets and easy to spot from the waterfront. It’s probably Istanbul’s most important mosque, actually a huge complex and charitable organization. Built by Sinan, the most famous Ottoman architect, between 1550-57. It is named in honor of Suleyman the Magnificent and built on the site of the original Ottoman palace where Mehmet the Conquer lived while the Topkapi Palace was under construction.