16 Jun 2007 - Istanbul, Turkey
Leaving my hotel by 08:45 allowed me to see some of the streets before they filled with humanity, especially around the Kapali Carsi (Grand Bazaar).
My target for the day was to see the Aqueduct of Valens and the Suleymaniye Camii (a spectacular mosque). After that I would be left with crossing the Golden Horn via the bridge and exploring the Karakoy and Galata districts. Its been a settlement since Byzantine times but was regarded as a separate settlement and was in fact handed over to the Genoese in 1261 as a semi-independent colony as repayment for assisting the Byzantines in driving out the Latins who had been resident since the conquest by Crusaders of the 4th Crusade in 1204.
During the Ottoman siege the colony chose its friends wisely and stayed neutral as Mehmet the Conqueror conquered the city. The Sultan showed his gratitude by allowing the Genoese to retain their commercial and religious establishments though they had to tear down their walls (traces of which can be seen) and hand over arms. The Genoese subsequently built one of the most famous landmarks, the Galata Tower.
I hate not looking like I don't know where I am going as it draws attention. One chap asked me where I wanted to go and gave me some directions. Then he started a conversation. Friendly chap I though but what's his angle? That soon became apparent as he owned a shop selling leather jackets. Repeated attempts failed to get me to follow and I talked my way out of it ensuring that he saved face.
Leaving the old centre behind, I walked into the modern area which provided nothing of any interest but still had to be seen. I then returned to the Grand Bazaar. A marvel to see but a complete hassle as I cannot see any fun involved in playing the game of purchasing some tat via offer, looks of shock and counter offer. I then returned to my hotel for a time out,a shower and a change of clothes. At this point I was quite happy with what I had accomplished so far. All that was remaining was to take a ferry over the Bosphorous to see the Asian side.
This side is rarely visited by tourists and it is not much more than a commercial area. Nice views exist higher up but I didn't have time for this. I was only interested in doing some shopping and thankfully, as this side sees very few tourist I could see price tags on items in all the shops!!!!! Brilliant! I could actually see what things cost and compare them from shop to shop. My eventual purchase was a Turkish tea pot and then when I returned back to the European side, boxes of locum or as its called in the West, Turkish Delight. This was not the sickly Fry's Turkish Delight sort, but pistachio containing, coconut covered, tasty treats.
Something else amusing happened today. Watch out for the friendly Turks as they all have an angle. Earlier in the day, I was approached and by now I knew what was coming though I have to admit that this time I was surprised. It started off with the usual 'hello how are you, where are you from', then he said 'what do you think of the boys here?' Whooaaa, whats this leading to? I asked him what he meant and he said, 'the boys, selling everything'. Then I realised what he meant - all the hawkers trying to sell leather goods. He was persistent and carried on the salesman patter but I eventually got rid of him. They just won't take no for an answer.
By the way, I estimate that today I have covered another 13 miles all on foot.
Istanbul - Nuruosmaniye Mosque
This mosque is at the Nuruosmaniye entrance of closed bazaar. Construction of this mosque commenced in 1748 by Mahmut I and completed in 1755 by Osman III.
Istanbul - Shops near the Grand Bazaar
The narrow streets around the Grand Bazaar are line with shops selling all sorts of tat and many shops are selling the same tat as each other. This is an early morning shot which avoids all the crowds. At the bottom of this road is the entrance to the covered Grand Bazaar.
Istanbul - Aqueduct of Valens
The aqueduct usually called that of Valens was actually completed in 368 during the reign of this Eastern Roman emperor, but certainly planned and begun already in the time of Constantine the Great (272-337) or his son Constantius II (317–361). Water from the Belgrad Forest beyond the city was carried to the center of the city around the Great Palace near the Hippodrome. It was in use throughout the Byzantine and most of the Ottoman periods.
Istanbul - Galata district
Over the Golden Horn you will find yourself in the Galata district which follows the old street plan and more than likely looking for the Galata town. This is one such street you will take on the way to the tower.
Istanbul - This monument was built in 1314 by Genoese
The part of the Palace of the Genoese official Montani de Marinis, known as the Palazzo del Comune in the Genoese period and built in 1314, still stands in a narrow street behind the famous Bankalar Caddesi (Banks Street) which was the financial centre of the Ottoman Empire
The inscription reads 'This monument was built in 1314 by Genoese.'
Istanbul - View from the Galata Tower
Looking south across the Golden Horn at old Istanbul on Constantinople. The Haghia Sophia and Blue Mosque can both be seen with the Blue Mosque being furthest right.
Istanbul - View to the Suleymaniye mosque
Walking along the northern side of Istanbul with this large mosque looming large in the distance.
Istanbul - Busy shops in the narrow streets
This is what the streets around the Grand Bazaar look like at the peak of the shopping rush. Mevlane is the name of the company that sells Muslim religious merchandise like prayer carpets.
Istanbul - View from Asia
A romantic view of Istanbul at sunset from the Asian side of the Bosphorous.