Walking the Bosphorus Coast (Self Guided), Istanbul

What Istanbul is today and what it was in medieval times is due to the geographical location of the city and the fact that it lies on the Bosphorus shore. This tour will take you along the coast so that you can enjoy the beautiful view and admire the city's architecture.
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Walking the Bosphorus Coast Map

Guide Name: Walking the Bosphorus Coast
Guide Location: Turkey » Istanbul (See other walking tours in Istanbul)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.7 Km or 4.8 Miles
Author: kane
Bosphorus Bridge (European Side)

1) Bosphorus Bridge (European Side) (must see)

The Bosphorus Bridge is the famous bridge in Istanbul that connects the Asian and European banks of the Bosphorus Strait. This is the second of the two bridges that connect the banks and is also known as the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge.

The Bosphorus Bridge links the chic Istanbul destination Ortakoy on the European side with the Beylerbeyi on the Asian side. Currently, it has the 25th-longest suspension bridge span in the world at over one thousand meters. The bridge was completed in 1973, constructed of inclined hangers and steel pylons, and cost more than 200 million US dollars to build.

The bridge offers a spectacular view of the Bosphorus Strait, both the Asian and European sides of Istanbul, which can be seen when you are crossing it. Centuries old architecture line the banks of the strait on either side and churches and mosques dot the landscape. When it was first built, a sidewalk was there for pedestrians, but now it has long been closed. The bridge can be best viewed from the Bosphorus cruise or tours that allow ample opportunities to view and photograph this spectacular architectural masterpiece.

Why You Should Visit:
The views from the bridge are actually nicer than the sighting of the bridge itself.
Besides, what can be more amazing than having one foot in Asia and another in Europe!

Note that the traffic of cars over the bridge is horrible during rush hours, so whether you cross it or get a view from afar, try doing so after dusk!
Hatice Sultan Palace

2) Hatice Sultan Palace

The Hatice Sultan Palace is one of the many palaces and residences situated alongside the Bosphorus. During medieval times it was used by Hatice Sultan as a summer palace. Nowadays, it is used as a water sports club. The Hatice Sultan Palace hugs the coastline and has always been a traditional element of a walk along the Bosphorus.
Esma Sultana Mansion

3) Esma Sultana Mansion

The Esma Sultana Mansion was built for Esma Sultan the daughter of Ottoman Sultan Abdülaziz. The mansion is located in the Ortaköy district of Istanbul, and it was built by the Imperial Architect Sarkis Balyan. Today the traditional yali (water side mansion) has been reinforced with steel and glass and is used as a cultural center and an event space. The building includes a restaurant, a bar and a large event hall and is built on several levels.

Originally the mansion was built as a three storey brick structure, and presented to Esma Sultana as a wedding gift by her father Ottoman Sultan Abdülaziz. Until the year 1915, the mansion was in possession by the Ottomans, and used for many purposes including being used as tobacco warehouse and a coal depot until 1975 when it was completely destroyed by a fire.

During the early 1990’s the Marmara hotel chain purchased the ruined structure and renovated it with additional designs and additions done by the celebrated architect Gökhan Avcıoğlu. Today a modern steel and glass structure incorporating the original brick exterior serves as an event hall for cultural events and concerts and houses a restaurant and a bar.
Ortaköy Mosque

4) Ortaköy Mosque

The Ortaköy Mosque, also called the Buyuk Mecidiye Camii (Grand Imperial Mosque) in Turkish, is located in the bustling district of Ortaköy in Istanbul. Ortaköy is one of the most popular tourist spots in the city of Istanbul, and the mosque can also be viewed from the Bosphorus Cruise.

The Ortaköy Mosque has been built in Baroque style, and lies on a pier at the edge of the Bosphorus Strait. Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecid ordered the construction of the mosque in 1854. For this purpose he hired the accomplished team of architects who had designed the Dolmabahce Palace and many other buildings in and around Istanbul.

The Ortaköy Mosque was built by the celebrated designer of the Dolmabahce Palace, Nigoğayos Balyan. The Armenian architect, along with his father Garabet Amira Balyan designed the mosque in a neo-Baroque style. It is a single domed mosque and consists of two minarets. The dome is decorated with exquisitely painted pink mosaics, and mosaics also decorate the Mirhab (Niche present in the mosque that depicts the direction of prayer) along with white marble. Sultan Abdülmecid executed the Islamic calligraphy present in the mosque himself, as he was an accomplished hattat (master calligrapher).
Çırağan Palace

5) Çırağan Palace

The Çırağan Palace called the Çırağan Sarayı in Turkish was an Ottoman imperial palace located between Ortaköy and Beşiktaş, on the European shore of the Bosphorus in Istanbul. The palace is now a five star hotel owned by the Kempinski Hotels chain.

The palace was built for the Ottoman Sultan Abdülâziz, designed by the celebrated Imperial Architect Nigoğayos Balyan, and completed in 1867. The Çırağan Palace is the last architectural example of the period when Ottoman Sultans used to construct their own palaces instead of using pre existing ones. The outer walls are made of colorful marble and the inner walls are constructed from wood. A beautiful bridge also connects the Çırağan Palace to the Yıldız Palace, and a very high garden wall surrounds the structure.

Sultan Abdülâziz, for whom the palace was built, was not able to enjoy it for very long, as he died shortly after moving into the place. After the Sultan’s death the palace was occupied by three more sultans and, until it was destroyed by a fire in 1910, was used for many businesses of the state. It was restored in 2007 in the soft colors of the baroque style by the Kempinski Hotels chain, and today, it is enjoyed by guests visiting Istanbul.
Yildiz Palace (Star Palace)

6) Yildiz Palace (Star Palace)

The Yildiz palace also called the “Star Palace” is the second largest palace in Istanbul. It represents the vast complex of pavilions and villas and was built in 1880. It was also used as a residence by Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II.

Overlooking the Bosphorus and surrounded by high hills, the palace was built in an area that consisted of natural woodlands. Many Sultans including Sultan Ahmet, Sultan Abdulmecid and Sultan Abdulaziz built mansions here and enjoyed vacationing in the vast estate.

After the demise of the Ottoman Empire, the palace was used as a casino and eventually converted into a guest house for visiting royalty and heads of state.

Today, many parts of the palace including the old pavilions, porcelain workshops and the largest parts of the palace gardens are open to the public. The Sale Pavilion is the best known complex in the palace; it can be reached through the Yildiz Park (the palace gardens). The pavilion has been converted into a museum and has spectacular architecture, luxurious decorations and furnishings. The Yildic Palace Museum and famous Municipal Museum of Istanbul are both present in the vast estate. The palace is open daily from 9:30 am to 4:00 or 5:00 pm depending upon particular months of the year.
Dolmabahce Palace

7) Dolmabahce Palace (must see)

The Dolmabahce Palace was built during the 19 century and is one of the most beautiful palaces in the world. It boasts stunning architecture and is located on the European side of the Bosphorus. It was used as the main administrative building of the Ottoman Empire from 1956 to 1922. The last Sultan of the Ottoman Empire also resided in the Dolmabahce Palace.

Mustafa Kamal Ataturk repeatedly stayed in the palace on his visits to Istanbul until he passed away on the 10th of November 1938. Thus, the Dolmabahce is also famed for being the great leader's last resting place.

The palace consists of three parts: the Muayede Salonu (Ceremonial Hall), the Mabeyn-i Hümâyûn (or Selamlık, the men's quarters), and the Harem-i Hümâyûn (the Sultan family's residential apartments). One of the most famous monuments to be found here is the Crystal Staircase built of brass, mahogany and Baccarat crystal, and with the shape of a double horseshoe. The palace also boasts a large number of Hereke Carpets. Today it has been converted into a museum containing 46 halls, 6 baths, 68 toilets, and 285 rooms.

Why You Should Visit:
To immerse yourself in a fairytale and understand how Sultans lived centuries ago.

Going early is highly encouraged – you'll have entire rooms all to yourself!
The audio guide is a must if you want to get into the cultural benefit of the visit.
Consider taking a rest at the outdoor cafe in-between visiting the Palace and the Harem.
Several good restaurants are nearby on a popular street nearby (Şair Nedim Cd.) that you can walk to in five minutes.

Operation hours:
Tue-Wed, Fri-Sun: 9am-5pm
Molla Çelebi Mosque

8) Molla Çelebi Mosque

The Molla Çelebi Mosque is also known as the Fındıklı Mosque. It is an Ottoman Imperial Mosque located in the district of Beyoğlu in the Fındıklı neighborhood. It was constructed by the famous Imperial Ottoman Architect Mimar Sinan in 1561 for the Chief Judge of Istanbul Kazasker Mehmet Vusuli Efendi. It is located close to the Dolmabahçe Mosque, near the Kabataş ferry port, on the Bosphorus waterfront.

The building is hexagonal in shape, and consists of four small semi domes in the north and the south ends of the mosque. The pillars of the mosque are actually engaged within the walls. The mosque also consisted of a hammam (Turkish bath) but this was demolished when the streets were widened. The Chief Justice Mehmet Efendi was a poet and a savant, and he had picked the picturesque location of the mosque because of its beauty. Located near the mosque are three fountains and the marble çeşme of Hekimoğlu Ali Paşa.

The Molla Çelebi Mosque has remained intact with little modifications done to it ever since it was built. The mosque is open for visitors 24 hours a day, except during the five designated prayer times, when it is closed for tourists unless they are there to pray.
Kılıç Ali Pasha Complex

9) Kılıç Ali Pasha Complex

The Kılıç Ali Pasha Complex is a group of buildings designed and built by the Ottoman Imperial Architect Mimar Sinan between 1580 and 1587. The celebrated architect was in his nineties when he built the complex. Located in the Beyoğlu district in the Tophane neighborhood in Istanbul, the vast complex is named after Kapudan-i Derya (Grand Admiral) Kılıç Ali Pasha.

The complex consists of a mosque, a madrassah (Islamic school), a hammam (Turkish bath) a türbe (tomb) and a fountain. During the time it was built, the complex was actually near the coastline, but today the seafront area is largely developed, and thus the complex finds itself surrounded by other buildings.

The mosque present on the complex is fashioned after the Hagia Sophia, with a central large dome and two half domes. The central position of the dome resembles that of a Byzantine Basilica. The courtyard consists of heavily ornamented doors and a marble ablution fountain that consists of eight pillars and a dome. The tomb of Kılıç Ali Pasha is octagonal in shape and is present in the outer courtyard, in a graveyard. The tomb is inlaid with mother of pearl.
Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

10) Istanbul Museum of Modern Art (must see)

Istanbul has always been a rich centre of culture and history, and the Museum of Modern Art gives visitors a taste of the “new city”.

This museum features the contemporary works of Turkish and also international artists. It was once a warehouse in the Tophane neighborhood on the Bosphorus and it is unique throughout Turkey, being the first of its kind found in the country. The museum is also a break from the centuries-old mosques, churches and architecture found throughout Istanbul. The building was inaugurated on December 11, 2004.

The Istanbul modern museum exhibits art collections on 2 floors. It has a permanent collection on the top floor, with works by Orhan Peker, Ismet Dogan, Seker Ahmet Ali Pasa, Omer Kalesi, Cihat Burak, Avni Arbas, Ihsan Cemal Karaburçak and Sema Gürbüz amongst others. A shop and a restaurant are also present on the top floor while temporary exhibits are held on the ground floor. This floor also consists of a library and a cinema hall along with a new media art area and a video art area.

Why You Should Visit:
To get a new perspective on Turkish culture; a must for anyone interested in art and the question of identity & expression.

Reasonable admission fees but FREE to visit on Thursdays!

Opening Hours:
Tue, Wed, Fri-Sat: 10am-6pm; Thu: 10am-8pm; Sun: 11am-6pm

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