Friday, 1 April 2016

Beyazit: Historical Neigbourhood With a Politically Active University Campus

Beyazit is a special neigbourhood for me, because my university, Istanbul University, is here. When I am on a tram, tourists always ask me "How can I go to Istanbul University?" Then I thought that this article can help you.

Beyazit is one of the names of Ottoman sultans. It is a neighbourhood of Fatih district. Beyazit is very close to Sultanahmet. If you have time, you can add it to your plan. One of the gates of the Grand Bazaar is at Beyazit, so, you can also add it to your plan, especially if you are eager to walk.


Beyazit Square: It is in the middle of the Historical Peninsula. It was the biggest square of the Byzantine times. Today, Beyazit Mosque, an entrance of the Grand Bazaar, Istanbul University Arts and Literature Faculty, and many other buildings are in this square.

Bayezid Mosque: Sultan Bayezid II ordered this mosque to be built. It is one of the early period works of Ottoman architecture. The architect is unknown. The tomb of Sultan Bayezid II rests at a forbidden place in the mosque.

Bayezid Madrasah: Sultan Bayezid ordered this madrasah to be built as a part of the mosque. It was built in 1506-1508. There is a pool in the middle of it. It was destroyed severely at 1509 earthquake, but it was renovated. When Rebuplic was founded, it began to be used as a library. Then the library was carried to Taksim (You can visit is as Ataturk Library today). Since 1984, the madrasah is used as the Museum of Turkish Foundation Caligraphic Arts.

Beyazit Tower: It is built in 1749, in order to watch for the fires and report them. It is 85 m high and has 180 stairs to the top. The tower was first wooden, but it burned in 1756. The new tower reburned at janissary revolt in 1826. It was built for the third time at the reign of Sultan Mahmut II in 1828. Along with reporting fires, it was lighted with different colours to report the weather to the Istanbulites. Today it is in the confines of the central campus of Istanbul University.

Istanbul University campus: The first and only university of 1933, Istanbul University, is a direct continuation of Ottoman university system. Some units of the university dates back to the day after the conquest of Istanbul, 30 May 1453, when Sultan Mehmet II ordered Sahn-i Seman madrasahs.

You may not be able to enter the university building, but you can see the historical gate that originally a part of Ottoman Ministry of War. It became the ministry of defence, after the republic is founded. Then the former ministry was liquidated.

Food and drink

There are many traditional restaurants at Beyazit where you can find traditional foods, drinks and desserts. If you are in a hurry, you can just stop by the souvenir shops that sell Turkish delight and other beautiful things. Bigger shops have usually fixed prices, but you may need to bargain at smaller shops.

How to get to Beyazit

You can go to Beyazit with tram. Kabatas-Bagcilar tram has a Beyazit stop. Haciosman-Yenikapi metro line has a Vezneciler stop which is about ten-minute-walk away from Beyazit Square. The distances are legitimate from Sultanahmet, Eminonu, Sirkeci and Karakoy, so you may prefer to walk around the Historical Peninsula, including Beyazit.

Where to stay at Beyazit

Beyazit hotels, along with Suleymaniye hotels, are some of the most preferred hotels by the tourists. There are many hotels with different styles and prices. Four star and five star hotels give quality service. There are also B&B hotels that will provide you enough comfort.

Monday, 26 October 2015

14th Istanbul Biennial is still going on!

14th Istanbul Biennial started to take place on Semptember 5, 2015 and it will en on November 1, 2015. The theme of this year's festival is "Salt Water".

There will be participants from all around the world. You can see the list here: http://14b.iksv.org/allparticipants.asp

You can see the biennial at many locations in Istanbul, all of which are at convenient locations: Rumeli Feneri, Riva Beach, Hrant Dink Foundation and Agos, French Orphanage, Galata Greek Primary School, Istanbul Modern Museum, FLO Building (Anatolian Passage), Pera Museum, SALT Galata, Kucuk Mustafa Pasha Bath, Buyukada Public Library, Trotsky House, Sivriada, and so on.

If you are Istanbul, try to visit as many of these exhibitions as you can.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Istanbul Coffee Festival 2015

Istanbul Coffee Festival will be held on 22-25 October 2015 at Haydarpasa Terminal. This festival is supposed to be the most comprehensive festival in Europe.

The festival will be perfect for coffee lovers! Think about this: combining the taste of coffee with the atmosphere historical Haydarpasa Terminal. You will have the chance to taste different kinds of coffee from all around the world, watch the shows of local and global professionals, and participate in workshops.

You can find the event calender from here: http://www.istanbulcoffeefestival.com/
You can buy tickets from here: http://www.biletix.com/etkinlik-grup/107179041/ISTANBUL/tr

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Macka Demokrasi Parki (Macka Democracy Park): A Decent Park In the City

Macka Demokrasi Parki is one of the best parks in Istanbul. It is a very extensive park between HarbiyeNisantasiMacka, and Dolmabahce. You can walk, can run, can exercise, can come with your child, can choose a restaurant and sip a cup of coffee, and can sit and read your book. You can also take beautiful photos, no matter what time of the day and what season of the year. The flora of the park is also very rich.

There is a short telfer line between Macka and Taskısla. If you enter the park from the Taskisla gate, you'll see the entrance to the telfer. The park has a couple of other gates at Macka and Nisantasi. From Nisantasi gate, you can cross the road and enter Nisantasi Sanatcilar Parkı, where there are always lots of cats and sometimes art events.

The other buildings that are close to the park are: Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus Hotel, Cemal Resit Rey Concert Hall, Lutfi Kirdar Congress Centre, Cemil Topuzlu Open-Air Theatre, ITU Macka Kampus (formerly, Macka Armory). The Macka gate of the park is next to one of the most popular concert arenas of Istanbul, Kucukciftlik Park.


The first knowledge of the park dates back to 19th century. It is said that the park was a valley with a stream, with lots of trees and huts. People used to ride horses, picnic on the ground, and made boat tours on the stream and drink water from it. After 1970's, the park was neglected, became a home for homeless, so the people got cold feet of the park. In 1990's, the stream was unfortunately a sewage. However, it didn't stop lovers meet at the park secretly. After 1993, it was renovated.

Macka-Taskisla Telfer

This is a rather short telfer line. It eases the lives of Istanbulites. It especially connects the two campuses of Istanbul Technical University. It passes over the park. The cabins have 24 person capacity. If you want to try it, wait only for five minutes and buy one ticket for approximately 1 Euro or 1 Dolar.

Where is Macka Park?

Maçka park is on a slope, so be ready to walk upwards or downwards. There is a bus stop near Inonu Stadium. (There are many bus lines from Besiktas to Taksim that passes from there.) You can walk a little from the stop to the Macka gate, then walk upwards in the park and get out to Nisantasi Sanatcilar Parki. I suggest you to take your time and walk either from Taksim or from Nisantasi, and rest at the park.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

5-10 August 2015: Time to See the Sculptures of Xu Hongfei

The sculptures of Xu Hongfei is at Istanbul as a part of his world tour. The sculptures are will be on display until 10 August. Don't miss them, if you are going to pass by Cevahir Mall, Nisantasi Sanatcilar Parki, or Abide-i Hurriyet Square.

The "fat and happy" women of the sculpture make you happy, too. I was on my way to work, and stopped to see them. They looked so alive that I thought they would really start to dance in front of me.

You can take as many photos as you like. People love to pose like the sculpted women. You'll have an interactive exhibition experience.

Who is Xu Hongfei?

He is a successful and talented Chinese sculpture. He started this project in 1997, he has sculpted over a hundred of these sculptures. He uses bronze, white marble and wood as materials. You'll admire the details of his works.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Belgrad Forest: The Green Lungs of Istanbul

Belgrad Forest is one of breathing areas of Istanbulites. It is close to Bahcekoy and Ataturk Arboretum. Its natural confines are the Bosphorus and the Black Sea. At Byzantium and Ottoman times, it was the most important spring for drinking water. Today, its water isn't enough for Istanbul, so it is mainly referred as a recreational area.

There is a road for the ones who want to go to the picnic area with car, but I'd recommend walking. One way average speed walk and stopping by the sights around takes about one hour. And one hour back. The only difficulty of walking is walking with the cars passing by.

The Barrage of Sultan Mahmud

Before the long walk, you have a short walk that takes you to a small stream (there are three streams in the forest: Ayvat, Topuz and Neset), picnic tables, and the barrage of Sultan Mahmud. There are six historical barrages in and around Belgrad forest: Komurcu Barrage (1620), Big Barrage (1724), Ayvat Barrage (1765), Valide Barrage (1796), Kirazli Barrage (1818), and the Barrage of Sultan Mahmud (1839). Kirazli Barrage is now within the confines of Ataturk Arboretum.

This barrage is made at the reign of Sultan Mahmud II. It is a little bit away from Valide Barrage. It is also called the New Barrage. The area was bare before Sultan Mahmud, but he wanted that area be afforested. Today, the trees around the road that goes to the barrage are almost two centuries old.

There is a historical gate at the bottom and an Ottoman emblem on the top. There is a walk way above, but it is forbidden to pass behind the bars, due to safety concerns.

Picnic area

After you walk about an hour, you'll reach the picnic area, which is the part that I dislike about Belgrad Forest. Especially on week ends, there are so many people that sweeps all the joy of the long walk. Noises, odors, and no empty seats. I had shared the melancholia of the lovely horse below.

How to get to Belgrad Forest?

Belgrad Forest isn't very central, but it isn't hard to get there. You can either get on 42T bus from Taksim or 42HM from Haciosman Metro. Actually, 42T goes from coastal road which usually has a heavy traffic jam, so I find coming the long way with metro and then going on with the bus more logical.

Ataturk Arboretum: A Museum of Trees in the heart of Istanbul

Ataturk Arboretum, which is very close to Belgrad Forest, is a nice choice to spend time in greens, when you are in Istanbul. Arboretum means tree park or tree museum. Ataturk Arboretum covers a 345 hectare area. It is not so big, compared to Belgrad Forest, but it is bigger than Karaca Arboretum at Yalova.

The best thing to do at Ataturk Arboretum is to walk and enjoy the environment. There are lots of threes, some lakes, many animals and different flowers around. Among the animals you'll see, there are tortoises, gooses and birds. There are also bubous plant collection, different types of mushrooms and many more. You can walk along the pointed paths, but there are warnings that tells you to stop not to get lost.

You can also see Kirazli Barrage, and the plantation which was built by Neset Hodja in 1916 inside the arboretum. The entrance fee is 2 TL for students and 4 TL for adults at week days, and 5 TL for students and 10 TL for adults at week ends. There is a restaurant-cafe inside, but it may be pricy. When the weather is fine, you'll most likely see newly weds and wedding photographers.

How to get to Ataturk Arboretum?

The best way to get to Ataturk Arboretum is to go to Haciosman, which is the last stop of Yenikapi-Haciosman metro line. You'll have to walk a little, but it won't tire you much. You can get on 42T (Bahcekoy-Taksim) bus; however, the traffic jam on the coastal road is usually bad. You'll have to walk again anyway.

Ataturk Arboratum is the place where I learned goose have teeth.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Dolmabahce: Dolmabahce Palace and Dolmabahce Mosque

From outside

Dolmabahce is a neighbourhood at Besiktas. It has a beautiful view with historical sights. Dolmabahce is the place where Sultan Mehmet II set foot on Istanbul. It is said that the neighbourhood that was formed by filling earth at the reign of Sultan Ahmet I or Sultan Osman II.

No photo is allowed inside. You cannot visit Selamlik and Harem by yourself. You should join a tour with guide. The tickets are sold with different options. If you have time and money, I suggest you to buy a full ticket which allows you to visit both Selamlik and harem, also the Painting Museum. The outside of the palace is very nice, so you will have a great time when not visiting the buildings.

From inside

Dolmabahce Palace

Dolmabahce Palace is on the Marmara coast. It is on the opposite of Uskudar and Salacak. When you are on a Besiktas-Kadikoy or Besiktas-Uskudar ferry, you also see it from the sea. This is a palace sultans lived after they left Topkapi Palace, just like Yildiz Palace.

Before Dolmabahce Palace, the area was a cove where Ottoman fleet used to anchor. It became a marsh over time. The cove began to be filled in 17th century, and was used as the private garden of the sultan. There were kiosks and pavilions scattered then.

It is unknown, when those buildings were destroyed and the excavation started. But according to some records, the palace was in place in 1842. But a French nomad says that the palace was still decorated and there was still no furniture in 1853. (Perhaps the government was out of money.)

After Ottomans, the palace was still used to entertain important guests. Ataturk stayed there, when he came to Istanbul. He spent his last days at Dolmabahce Palace and died there on November 10, 1938. You can see the room and the bed (as well as his study room), while you are visiting the museum,

There are some animals on the yard of Glassed Kiosk


Clock Tower: This is probably the first thing that catches your eye about Dolmabahce Palace, even when you're not thinking to visit the palace. The dates are between 1890-1895 and like the palace, at the reign of Abdulmecit. The architect is Sarkis Balyan. It is a very impressive clock tower with all its details. Below it, there is a cosy café with a sea view.

Selamlık: Selamlik is generally a building, reserved for men at Ottomans. The sultan used to host his political guests here and there used to be diplomatic meeting. Women weren't allowed to enter this building. The selamlik of Dolmabahce Palace is quite extensive. Single visits aren't allowed. You should join an English (or a Turkish) tour with a guide. I think it is better to do that way, because you can have more information about the details.

Harem: Harem is generally the building, reserved for women (except the Sultan and eunuchs). Dolmabahce Harem has a couple of windows that allowed women watch the meeting from above the big hall. Dolmabahce Palace continued to be active, even after Ottoman Empire collapsed. Harem is also special for Turkish Republic, because Ataturk used to stay here at his Istanbul visits. At the tour, you will be able to see the bed he died, his study and his bathroom.

Painting Museum: This is one of the most impressive museums I've seen in Istanbul. If you aren't much into painting, it is still good. If you are into painting, you'll love it. There are about 200 original paintings in the museum, including Ottoman painters and foreign painters who painted for Ottomans. There are 11 galleries that are Sultan Abdulmecid, Westernization in Ottomans, Istanbul views from Abdulmecid, the paintings that were taken from Goupil gallery, Ivan Konstantinoviç Ayvazovski, imperial painters, orientalist painters, assistant painters, Turkish painters (1870-1890), the landscape at Ottoman Empire, Turkish painters (1890-1930).

This is in front of Selamlik (not from Painting Museum)

Clock Museum: This is an interesting museum with original clocks and watches. There are automatic machines from 18-19th century, glorious mechanics made by French masters, and beautiful works of Mawlawi watch makers from 19th century. 71 clocks and watches are displayed at the museum. Unfortunately, I couldn't make a way inside it. All the doors were closed and the building was surrounded with a fence.

Glassed Kiosk: This was the Ottomans' window to the world and the equal of regiment kiosk at Dolmabahce Palace. Sultans used to watch the parades from inside. There are two transitive halls and a glasshouse in the building. You can see animal reliefs, fireplaces, coffee tables and so on as decorations. There is a little pool in its garden and many animals, including a peacock, roosters, ducks, and pheasants.

Glassed Kiosk from outside

Dolmabahce Mosque

The construction of the mosque was started by the the mother of Sultan Abdulmecid, Bezmialem Valide Sultan. After her death Sultan Abdulhamid took over the project. Architect Garabet Balyan decorated the mosque. It was opened to worship in 1855.

It began to be used as Naval Museum after 1948. Following 27 May Coup in 1960, the mosque was evacuated and the Naval Museum was carried to Besiktas centre. The mosque became famous again at Gezi Park incidents.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Anadolukavagi: A Lovely Fishermen's Village at Anatolian Coast

Anadolukavagi is a neighbourhood of Beykoz. It is a touristic village with nice restaurants that serve sea food, as well as Yoros Castle.

Yoros Castle

This is a castle dates back to the Eastern Roman Empire times. After the empire weakened, the Genoese took hold of the castle. So, many people mistaken it for a Geneose castle. The area the castle covers is the largest, compared to the other castles in and around Istanbul. Some of the interior towers are still intact, and there are some Greek inscriptions on them. The origin of its name isn't for sure. It may be Hieron that means "sacred place", the nick name of Zeus that is "proper winds", or oros that means "mountain".

The castle isn't cared for how it should be, but at least it isn't idle. The archaeological studies are still going on, and it is forbidden to go in. However, I was lucky a couple of years ago. I was mistaken for an "Australian" and the door keeper let me and my friend in. So, long before the idea of this blog occurred, I had photos of Yoros Castle from inside. Enjoy the one below.

How to get to Anadolu Kavagi

There are two ways to go to Anadolu Kavagi: one from the road, one from the sea. If you take the road, you need to come to Kavacik and there you should get on 15A, Anadolukavagi bus. It is a frequent line, but you may stuck in the traffic. If you want to come with ferry, you can get on the Bosphorus line from whatever port it stops. The ferries aren't as frequent as buses, but if you don't have any hurry, I suggest you to prefer ferries for a scenic trip.

Rumelikavagi for the Best Mussel

Rumelikavagi is a neighbourhood between Sariyer centre and Rumelifeneri. It is famous for its mussels and pearls. There are many restaurants with sea food.

The neighbourhood is normally isn't crowded, but it gets crowded at weekends. So, you may need to go there early to get a table with a nice view.

You can try mussels at Rumelikavagi. The famous mussels are also sent around Istanbul, but I don't know where else you can eat them.

There are some beaches of Rumelikavagi, one of which belongs to military, so you cannot enter it. You can try other beaches.

How to get to Rumelikavagi

There are two ways to go to Rumelikavagi: one from the sea, one from the road. If you take the road, you'll get on 25A from Haciosman Metro stop. It is quite a frequent line. If you decide to come with ferry, you will get on the Bosphorus line, which isn't as frequent as the bus, but much more scenic.

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