Sultanahmet and Taksim

Istanbul Travel Blog

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Church of San Antonio de Padua

People i met here who contributed to, and improved my trip: Derya and Hakan (Turkey), Eric and Dave (USA)

On Friday i just about managed to pull myself into the shower around 10.40 and then caught a bus down to Taksim and from here walked to Neverland Hostel to meet the guys. We were all feeling a little weary, so decided to head to Istiklal to get some lunch at a buffet style restaurant. Once we had finished our food we opted to take a walk along Istiklal, but it was such miserable cold and rainy weather that it wasn't too pleasant.

After some time we made our way to Galata Tower, which we were told offered some nice panoramas of the City. On the price list it said in English 10YTL, but in Turkish they wrote besh Lira, which i knew was 5.

Galata Tower
I asked the ticket seller what the price was and when he said 10, i asked why it was written 5 on the board, and he began to get embarrassed. After a few seconds thought he said that it was a special promotion just for Turkish people, as a kind of Christmas present, at which we giggled a bit and told him that Turkish people don't celebrate Christmas. I also told him that the price is always 5YTL for Turkish people, at which point he alleged that he had only just been working there for a month and didn't know. He wasn't going to let us in for 5YTL, so we decided not to bother with it, after all we had got free entertainment from winding the poor ticket guy up!

Next port of call was the Bosphorous River, which had the Galata Bridge spanning it. On the far embankment we could see some large Mosques, but decided not to visit them today, and instead settled for a walk halfway across the bridge.
A view across the Bosphorus to Sultanahmet
We were all wet and cold by this point and the unanimous verdict was to find somewhere to drink a warm cup of tea. Having checked out several overpriced places, we settled on a small shop that sold flavoured tea, which Eric and Dave ordered, whilst i settled for black tea. Unfortunately the woman somehow got the order confused and we all ended up with black tea, but at least it was hot and we had the warm air conditioning blowing on us.

Feeling a little revitalised we made a move back to the Neverland Hostel and passed the impressive Nusretiye Mosque along the way. Having temporarily got lost in the winding streets, we finally got back to the warmth of the reception area, where we played cards for some time and just enjoyed not been rained on for a bit! It was the first time i had played the game Big2 or whatever the hell it was called, but i had lots of beginners luck and gave the lads a good thrashing.
Fishermen on the Galata Bridge


Originally we had hoped to meet Derya later on in the evening, but she was sensibly staying at home where it was dry and cosy. Therefore us boys went out for Dinner together, but none of us could really muster the energy to do much afterwards, so we all decided to go home and get an early night. I jumped off my bus in Ortakoy to have a quick look at the Mosque and the Bridge lit up at night and then went back to chat with Derya and a friend of hers who was visiting.

Even though i had gone to bed quite early the night before, i didn't wake up to my alarm the following day and as luck would have it nor did Derya or her friend, who also both had to be up. I had arranged to meet Eric and Dave around 10.
Church in Beyoglu
00 and it was already 10.30 when i finally got up. The other problem was that i had to move all my bags to a hostel, as Derya was leaving town and i had no way of contacting the guys, as her internet connection wasn't working. All that was left for me to do was to grab my things and get down to Sultanahmet as fast as possible and see if they were anywhere to be seen.

I caught a bus down to Kabatas, which is where the very handy tram starts its journey all the way to Sultanahmet, which is far quicker than sitting in the traffic jams that the bus is subject to. I had decided to stay in the Cordial House Hostel which was only 12.5YTL ($8) per night for a dormitory room, which came with free wireless.
Ortakoy Mosque and a fishing boat
This was a very good deal for any capital City, let alone a country as expensive as Turkey can be.

I made use of the wireless to check my emails and arrange a place to meet Eric and Dave later in the day. With this out of the way, i went for a walk down to the Hippodrome and Blue Mosque, which is also known as the Sultanahmet Mosque. The Hippodrome had some incredible monuments including the well preserved Obelisk of Theodosius, which had been carved in Egypt more than 3500 years ago. You could be forgiven for thinking that it was a replica, it really is in such immaculate condition. Another pillar in the vicinity is the less aesthetically appealing Spiral Column, although its History is still captivating. Having been built in 478BC, it stood at the Temple of Apollo in Delphi for the first 800 years of its existence, before Constantine the Great carted it off to Constantinople.
Obelisk of Theodosius
Quite ironic that the Turks bitch and whine about the British 'stealing' their treasures, when they did exactly the same to other countries, well before the Brits lay a finger on any antiquities of theirs.

The simple fact is that any country that had such power throughout History, abused this for their own material gain. It is incredibly blinkered of people to just look back at the last couple of hundred years and forget about what happened before this. But most people prefer this line of approach, as it excuses their country of all the crimes that it committed, long before the Brits or Americans came onto the scene. But try and explain this to a Turk, a Persian, an Italian or a Greek and they will tend to scoff at the thought that their sweet, innocent, non aggressive nation could ever have committed such deeds.
Blue Mosque


I entered the courtyard of the Blue Mosque from the Hippodrome and struggled to find an angle to take a photo from, as it was just too big to fit in the frame! I guess that gives a good idea of the scale of the place, which really is a bit mind boggling. The Mosque was built between 1606 and 1616 by Sultan Ahmet I, and it was conceived by the Sultan as a place of worship that could rival, if not surpass Aya Sofya. I was pointed to the side entrance along with all the other tourists, whilst Muslims entered through the front door, which was fair enough.

Inside the Mosque, you really needed to crank your head to get a good view of the place. The ceiling was so high and all the walls were ornately decorated, with the colourful red prayer mats laid out on the floor. It was a strange sensation to have so many vivid colours in view and coupled with my head moving back and forth and up and down, it started to make me feel a bit dizzy, so i decided that it was time to go!

I used the Sultanahmet Park exit to leave the grounds of the Mosque and this gave me some fantastic views of Aya Sofya.
Blue Mosque
I had visited this Museum once before and was quite keen to go again, but when i found out that the entrance fee was 20YTL, there wasn;t much to decide, there was no way in this World i was paying $13 to walk around a Church come Mosque come Museum for half an hour. I just don't get how they can charge so much and still the place is packed. Surely common sense should come into play, i mean Vatican City costs this much and is far superior and in a more expensive country, the Blue Mosque and St Peters in Rome are both free, Persepolis was $0.50, a full day pass at Angkor was $20, so how can people pay $13 for this? I've got no problem with paying for places as long as you get some sort of value for money, i just wish other people would work on the same basis and refuse such ludicrous fees and then the government would be forced to lower the price, but that will never happen.
Sultanahmet Park and Aya Sofya


The other reason that i think people should refuse to pay entry to Aya Sofya and Topkapi Palace, is because there are limitless other things to see in Istanbul, where you won't be treated like a complete fool. I decided to take a walk around the Sultanahmet district which was nice enough and it gave me the chance to find out bus prices and times to Bodrum and also to take my camera to get fixed. I was told to come back on Monday for a quote which wasn't a problem and then went for lunch in a little cafe. The food was decent, the waiters attentive and friendly and for a kebab, a sandwich with fries in and a carton of ayran i paid $2.
Sultanahmet Park, fountains and the Blue Mosque
On the way home i paid it a quick visit to a small shrine with tombs inside that was near to my hostel.

In the evening i had arranged to meet Eric and Dave, who were going to be with fellow Travbuddy's Fatih and Nargiza. We exchanged greetings outside the Galatasary school and went to a club to drink a beer, but it was a little too early and the music was too loud to stay for too long. Thus we went to a teahouse for our next drink, and the conversation improved now that we could actually hear each other. With all the locals playing Tavla, we decided that we would have a game of cards, but the waiter told us that cards were banned, as we were within a few hundred metres of a school, which i found rather ridiculous, but rules are rules - and obviously Turkish people always stick to the rules - just look at their driving ;)

The Turkish Travbuddy's left us at 22.
Me, Eric, Fatih and Dave
00, so we returned to Neverland Hostel for a quick drink and then headed back up to Taksim to meet couchsurfer Hakan. I had communicated with Hakan for some time, but sadly couldn't stay with him as he had other visitors, a couple from America, who were with him now. Whilst Hakan was a very nice guy, the American bloke wasn't. Every time someone tried to talk to his girlfriend, he became agitated, possessive and jealous, which was really annoying, so in the end we gave up trying to be friendly to them and just talked with Hakan.

We ended up visiting a couple of trendy bars, but then a couple of Hakan's Turkish friends became intent on finding the ideal bar, which led to us walking the streets for half an hour in search of somewhere to drink. In the end Eric, Dave and I became a bit tired of all the walking and just decided that we would stay in a bar regardless of what everyone else was doing and i was happy that Hakan decided to stay with us and let the others wander off.
Galata Bridge and the Bosphorus at night
They told us they would call us when they found a good bar, but half an hour later they had given up and gone home! Us boys stayed drinking until the wee hours and listening to some old Turkish pop music, which was quite quirky.

Around 03.30 we called it a night and went our separate ways. Even though it was drizzling i decided to walk home, which took about an hour. I was really happy that i did though, as i got the City streets to myself and also saw the fishermen at work on the Galata Bridge. Sultanahmet looked particularly appealing lit up at night, but by 05.00 I'd had enough of wandering around and went home to bed.

almond72 says:
A truly big city ! I somehow got the name Constantinople stuck in my head and was wondering where in Turkey it was. Silly me !
Posted on: Sep 03, 2009
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Church of San Antonio de Padua
Church of San Antonio de Padua
Galata Tower
Galata Tower
A view across the Bosphorus to Sul…
A view across the Bosphorus to Su…
Fishermen on the Galata Bridge
Fishermen on the Galata Bridge
Church in Beyoglu
Church in Beyoglu
Ortakoy Mosque and a fishing boat
Ortakoy Mosque and a fishing boat
Obelisk of Theodosius
Obelisk of Theodosius
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Sultanahmet Park and Aya Sofya
Sultanahmet Park and Aya Sofya
Sultanahmet Park, fountains and th…
Sultanahmet Park, fountains and t…
Me, Eric, Fatih and Dave
Me, Eric, Fatih and Dave
Galata Bridge and the Bosphorus at…
Galata Bridge and the Bosphorus a…
Istiklal Caddesi
Istiklal Caddesi
Beyoglu
Beyoglu
A view across the Bosphorus to Sul…
A view across the Bosphorus to Su…
A view across the Bosphorus to Sul…
A view across the Bosphorus to Su…
Bosphorus - Beyoglu side
Bosphorus - Beyoglu side
Fishing lines hang from the Galata…
Fishing lines hang from the Galat…
Church in Beyoglu
Church in Beyoglu
Nusretiye Camii
Nusretiye Camii
Building at Tophane
Building at Tophane
Ortakoy Mosque
Ortakoy Mosque
Building at Tophane
Building at Tophane
Bosphorus Bridge
Bosphorus Bridge
Ortakoy Mosque
Ortakoy Mosque
Ortakoy Mosque
Ortakoy Mosque
Ortakoy Mosque and Bosphorus Bridge
Ortakoy Mosque and Bosphorus Bridge
Ortakoy Mosque and Bosphorus Bridge
Ortakoy Mosque and Bosphorus Bridge
Ortakoy Mosque and a fishing boat
Ortakoy Mosque and a fishing boat
The Hippodrome
The Hippodrome
Rough Stone Obelisk
Rough Stone Obelisk
Obelisk of Theodosius
Obelisk of Theodosius
Obelisk of Theodosius
Obelisk of Theodosius
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Sultanahmet Park and Aya Sofya
Sultanahmet Park and Aya Sofya
Sultanahmet Park and Aya Sofya
Sultanahmet Park and Aya Sofya
Sultanahmet Park and the Blue Mosq…
Sultanahmet Park and the Blue Mos…
Sultanahmet Park and the Blue Mosq…
Sultanahmet Park and the Blue Mos…
Sultanahmet Park and Aya Sofya
Sultanahmet Park and Aya Sofya
Tomb of Sultan Ahmet I
Tomb of Sultan Ahmet I
Fountains is Sultanahmet Park
Fountains is Sultanahmet Park
Sultanahmet Park, fountains and th…
Sultanahmet Park, fountains and t…
Sultanahmet Park and the Blue Mosq…
Sultanahmet Park and the Blue Mos…
Tomb near Aya Sofya
Tomb near Aya Sofya
Fountain of Sultan Ahmet III
Fountain of Sultan Ahmet III
Fountain of Sultan Ahmet III and t…
Fountain of Sultan Ahmet III and …
Walls of Topkapi Palace
Walls of Topkapi Palace
Tonbs
Tonbs
Tombs
Tombs
Tombs
Tombs
Ornate clock
Ornate clock
Tombs
Tombs
Tombs
Tombs
Tombs
Tombs
Street in Beyoglu
Street in Beyoglu
Dave, Me, Nargiza, Eric and Fatih
Dave, Me, Nargiza, Eric and Fatih
Mussel stall in Taksim
Mussel stall in Taksim
Eric looking worried at what await…
Eric looking worried at what awai…
Me, Eric and Dave in Taksim
Me, Eric and Dave in Taksim
Street in Taksim
Street in Taksim
Hakan, Dave and Eric in a bar in T…
Hakan, Dave and Eric in a bar in …
Nusretiye Camii
Nusretiye Camii
Buildings on the Sultanahmet side …
Buildings on the Sultanahmet side…
The Galata Bridge and buildings on…
The Galata Bridge and buildings o…
Buildings on the Sultanahmet side …
Buildings on the Sultanahmet side…
Buildings on the Sultanahmet side …
Buildings on the Sultanahmet side…
Buildings on the Sultanahmet side …
Buildings on the Sultanahmet side…
Topkapi Palace at night
Topkapi Palace at night
Fishermen on the Galata Bridge at …
Fishermen on the Galata Bridge at…
Fishermen on the Galata Bridge at …
Fishermen on the Galata Bridge at…
Fishermen on the Galata Bridge at …
Fishermen on the Galata Bridge at…
Fishermen on the Galata Bridge at …
Fishermen on the Galata Bridge at…
Buildings on the Sultanahmet side …
Buildings on the Sultanahmet side…
Fishermen on the Galata Bridge at …
Fishermen on the Galata Bridge at…
Yeni Camii at night
Yeni Camii at night
Yeni Camii at night
Yeni Camii at night
Istanbul
photo by: Memo