Saturday, June 6, 2015

Also Worth Visiting In...Istanbul

Also Worth Seeing In...


I have undoubtedly enjoyed the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque etc, you name it, in this most amazing of cities. Yet a deeply historic city obviously has many, many other sights worth visiting. Here are a few ideas for you to consider on your next trip.

The Aqueduct of Valens
A 4th century aqueduct built to provide water to the city, this is an easy walk away from the touristy Sultanahment neighbourhood. Currently 921 metres long, you may well come across it while travelling around the city, as the major Ataturk Bulvari passes right under it.

While walking from Beyazit medyani, the route will take you through the lively university area, full of small eateries with a completely different vibe compared to what you would find in Sultanahmet. There is a park next to the aqueduct, where you can sit and relax with some street food, in the shadow of one of the city's oldest and greatest landmarks.

4th century history surrounded by 21st century traffic

Combine it with: The walk is an easy walk from Beyazit Sq, which is Diwan Yolu. If you're tired of the crowds in the Grand Bazaar, visit the airy Beyazit Square with the beautiful Beyazit Camii (Mosque) and the gate to the Istanbul University. You can take a peaceful walk through the university (some guards may not let you visit after 4 pm) where students throng the green spaces, and see the Beyazit Tower.

Fethiye Muzesi
Built sometime in the 11th or 12th centuries, the Pammakaristos Church was converted into the Fethiye Camii (Fethiye Mosque) in 1591. Along with the Hagia Sophia and the Chora Church, the museum contains beautiful mosaics.

Fethiye Museum has beautiful mosaics
Combine it with: Located in the Fener neighbourhood, Fethiye Museum is an easy walk from the Chora Church. The surrounding areas are fun to stroll through, though not as prosperous as Sultanahmet (safety however shouldn't be an issue).

Tomb and Cemetery of Mahmud II
This small cemetery couldn't be easier to reach. Located right on Divanyolu Cad, opposite Loti restaurant, this is well in the tourist heart of the city. Yet, not many take the effort to step in a calm cemetery and tomb complex.

Built on the orders of Abdulmecid for his father Mehmed II, many later sultans too are buried here. Several statesmen, authors and poets who served between 1840 and 1920 too are buried here. The stonework is beautiful and well worth a closer look.

Stonework in the cemetery
Combine it with: From this point, you have pretty much the entire Sultanahmet at your doorstep. Consider a leisurely stroll along Divanyolu Cad, the main road of Istanbul for over 1700 years.

Rustem Pasa Mosque (Rustem Pasa Camii)
Hey, here is one mosque where you don't need to crane your neck to see the colourful interior. Designed by the great architect Sinan (who, among other things, designed Istanbul's most famous hamams), the mosque was completed in 1563. Unlike Blue Mosque, Sulemaniye Mosque etc, this mosque doesn't bang you in the face with its presence. This one takes a little more effort to locate.

Outer courtyard of the mosque
Located in the Egyptian Bazaar, the mosque is located on the second floor of a building; the shops on the ground floor help pay for the mosque's rent. Inside, the mosque is beautified with lots of Iznik tiles, in about 80 different patterns of it.

Interior of the mosque

Combine it with: a walk through the Egyptian Market and surrounding area. An extremely atmospheric market where you can buy everything from lokum (Turkish delights) to soap and spices to shoes, I found the area much more fun than Grand Bazaar. Here you have the typical chaos of a typical market without the Grand Bazaar-esque hustling.

Eyup Sultan Mosque (Eyup Sultan Camii)
Take a boat ride to the westernmost point of the Golden Horn, the neighbourhood of Eyup. Not high on the tourist radar, the mosque here has always been important since Ottoman times.

The mosque complex was originally built in 1458 and was rebuilt in the 19th century following an earthquake. It was at this mosque all the coronation ceremonies of Ottoman emperor were held. The mosque is particularly famous because in its compound is the supposed tomb of Eyup al-Ansari, a friend and standard-bearer of Prophet Muhammad, making the mosque an extremely sacred place. The mausoleum is beautifully decorated with many different designs of Iznik tiles.

Interior of Eyup Sultan Camii
Mausoleum of Eyup al-Ansari
The path from the ferry terminal to the mosque is littered with tombs of Ottoman emperor and generals. Also on the way are markets and several restaurants and other eateries where you can get, for example, ice-cream for a fraction of the price compared to Sultanahmet.

Combine it with: Find your way from the mosque to the cable-car (teleferik) which goes above the Eyup Cemetery to a beautiful viewpoint, home to Pierre Loti cafe. While the cafe itself is nothing special, the views are incredible. Your Istanbulkart is valid on the cable car.

Views from Pierre Loti cafe 
Find ferry schedules here. The Uskudar-Eyup ferry line stops in convenient locations like Eminonu and Karakoy, making this gem easy to access.