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Istanbul - Day 3 - 19th Century Istanbul

TURKEY | Thursday, 12 July 2012 | Views [934]

View from Galata Tower

View from Galata Tower

Today, I'll do a walking tour of some sights related to the later Ottoman period. Staring the tour with a tram ride to Eminonu, the last stop before Galata Bridge. I decided to walk across the upper level on the way over, so that I could walk on the lower level on the return trip (with it's restuarants). On the bridge, there are many men fishing. Some greedy fishermen with many fishing rods. Some very successful fishermen with a large bucket full of fish. There are so many fishing lines glinting in the sunlight. I started to imagine after dark, one of those lines set up as a booby trap and taking someone's head off:

After crossing the bridge to the Old area of Istanbul, it's uphill, a lot of uphill to Galata Tower. The tower was originally built in the 13th century by the Genoese. In reality, the original tower has been destroyed and rebuilt so many times, who know who really built it. It's 67 metres tall and with the benefit of being on top of a hill, has amazing panoramic views of the city. Where else can you see Topkapi Palace, Haghia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Suleymaniye Mosque and the Bosphorus all at once. Highly recommended.

Below, from left to right is Topkapi, Haghia Sophia, Blue Mosque and Sultan Ahmet Mosque.

The next stop, Dolmabahce Palace is too far to walk. So it's a walk back downhill to Karakoy tram stop and ride to Kabatas. On the way down, there's a guy struggling uphill with his shoe polish kit. Surprise, surprise, he "accidentally" drops a brush and I shout out to let him know. I walk away knowing his next words, just as he begins his offer of a free shoe polish. 

A contestant on Jeopardy was once asked, "Who the heck closes on a Thursday?". Dolmabahce Palace, apparently.

A 10 minute walk for nothing. At least the home of Besiktas Football Club is right opposite:

With no visit to the Palace, I figure I might as well use up some of the spare 2 hours and walk all the way to the Askeri Muzeri (Military Museum), 2km away. A pretty good museum by any standard with it's large collection of Ottoman military items and excellent translations into English too. The more academic inclined will want to give the 2nd floor of the museum a miss with it's ridiculous right wing tone describing the ethnic national aspirations within the Ottoman empire, WWI and the invasion of Cyprus. Missing out on Dolmabahce was more than made up by Mehter show at the museum. A Mehter is the world's oldest military band and followed the Ottoman army on it's wars. Everyday at the museum is a 20 minute show with a cast of nearly 50 performing martial music and military marching. It's a little out of the ordinary, but well worth it.

Then it back to the walking tour down to Taksim Square. Here is the Monument of the Republic, a sculpture commemorating the formation of the Republic of Turkey following the successful War of Independence, when the Turks fought against the occupying forces of the victories allies of WWI. The four sides of the monument:

The place is packed with tourists. Taksim Square is also the the heart of shopping and eating in European Istanbul and there's no shopping street quite like Istiklal Caddesi, with it's foreign embassies, private residences, hotels, boutiques shops, cafes, restaurants, galleries, and cinemas. A nice way to end the day.

Tags: galata, istanbul, scams, sightseeing, tower, turkey, unesco, walking tour


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