Istanbul Map
Site Index
Contact
Random
Our Travel Books
Advertising / Press

The Sapphire Skyscraper in Levent

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Rocketing 780 feet into the air, the Sapphire building in the modern neighborhood of Levent is Turkey’s tallest building. A cafe on the top floor and an open air viewing platform on the roof offer one of Istanbul’s most breathtaking views.

Sapphire

Other than from an airplane window, I’d figured that it was impossible to see the entire length of the Bosphorus Strait — from the Black Sea in the north to the Sea of Marmara in the south. But from the top of the Sapphire, you can see the whole twenty miles. Going up to the roof costs about $10, but it’s money well-spent.

Location on our Istanbul Map

Book Your Istanbul Hotel Here

Sapphire Tower Istanbul
Rolltreppe Sapphire
Speedy Elevator
Sapphire Viewing Platform
Mosques In Istanbul
360 View Istanbul
Bosphorus Bridge Istanbul
Overpopulation Istanbul
Traffic Istanbul
Traffic Jam Istanbul
Istanbul Streets
Public Transportation Istanbul
Bus Stop Istanbul
Istanbul Travel
Tunnel System Istanbul
Skyscrapers Istanbul
Istanbul Dense
Istanbul Park
Mosque In The City
Istanbul Mega City
Istanbul City Guide
Istanbul Stadium
Istanbul Financial District
Hochhäuser Istanbul
Bosphorus Strait Istanbul
Istanbul Suburbs
Kanyon Mall Istanbul
Construction Work Istanbul
The 7 Hills Of Istanbul
Modern Art Photography Istanbul
Street Jungle Istanbul
Broken Windows Istanbul
Romantic Get Away Istanbul
Censorship In Istanbul
Views Istanbul
Zig Zag Istanbul
, , , , , , , , ,
June 25, 2013 at 8:00 pm Comment (1)

A Day in Zeyrek

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

The lively neighborhood of Zeyrek, just north of the Aqueduct of Valens, was one of our favorite spots in Istanbul. It’s difficult to reach with public transportation, and lacks any well-known sights, so very few tourists bother to visit. Not that we mind; it just leaves more Zeyrek for us!

Hoca-G%c4%b1yasettin-Cami

Zeyrek is one of the four spots designated by UNESCO as “Historic Areas of Istanbul” (the others are Sultanahmet’s Archaeology Park, the Suleymaniye Complex and the Theodosian Walls). This ancient neighborhood still conserves some original wooden housing, and its mosque has a wonderful location overlooking the Golden Horn. Unfortunately, though, the Zeyrek Mosque has been added to another, less desirable UNESCO list: “Endangered Monuments”.

Which perhaps explains why it was closed for restoration during our visit. Originally built in the 12th century as the Church of Christ Pantokrator, this is the second-largest Byzantine-era religious complex in the city, after the Hagia Sophia. It was frustrating to be locked out, but that gave us more time to lounge on the terrace of Zeyrekhane: an upscale restaurant in the shadow of the mosque, which boasts a fantastic view over the neighborhood.

Me-And-My-Lamb-Leg

Walking from the mosque to the Roman aqueduct, you enter the heart of the neighborhood. Life in Zeyrek seems to be lived on the streets, with markets opened out onto the sidewalks and people going busily about their days. This is a boisterous place, and there’s no escaping the pull of local life. One minute we’re passing a meat shop, and the next thing I know, I’m on my knees with a baby lamb suckling my fingertip. Meanwhile, Jürgen is taking portraits of butchers, and then we’re both shaking their bloody, carcass-encrusted hands.

And now the peanut-seller wants to chat. Really, you lived in Germany? Auf wiedersehen! Çiğköfte sounds good for lunch. And then tea. Yes, Mr. Baklava Seller, of course we’ll sit down! Oh, look at this group of kids, who want to practice their English. “Huh-low! Bye-bye!” Now, more tea and a round of backgammon, and then… wait. Where have the last three hours gone?! And that’s how trips to Zeyrek tend to go.

Not quite in Zeyrek, but nearby, is the Yavuz Selim Mosque. This is one of the oldest imperial mosques in the city, commissioned by Suleyman the Magnificent in honor of his father Selim the Grim. The interior is simple but lovely, decorated with Iznik tiles and crowned with a shallow dome. But the Yavuz Selim’s main draw is outdoors. Like the Zeyrek Camii, this mosque offers an incredible view of the Golden Horn. A wooded courtyard faces out towards the river, complete with benches allowing people to relax and take in the panorama.

Locations on our Istanbul Map: Zeyrek Camii | Yavuz Selim Camii

Better Safe Than Sorry! Get your travel insurance quote here! Instantly!

New-Ataturk-Bridge-2013
Zeyrek-Terrace
Zeyrek-Under-Construction
Forever-Alone-Istanbul
Baby-Lamb
Sheep-Heads
Istanbul-Butcher
Turkish Dudes
Turkish-Cheeses
Turkish-Lavas-Cheese
Lena Istanbul Cafe
Coming-Together-In-Istanbul
Walking-IN-Zeyrek.
Walking-Tour-Istanbul
Pics from the Yavuz Selim Mosque
Yavuz-Selim-Mosque
Yavuz-Selim-Mosque-Gate
Istanbul-Panorama
/Beyoglu
Yavuz-Selim-Camii
Yavuz-Selim-Glass
Yavuz-Selim-Camii-Domes
Yavuz-Selim-Iznik-Tiles
Marble-Carving
, , , , , , , , , , , ,
May 18, 2013 at 2:22 pm Comment (1)

Southwest of the Hippodrome

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

The winding streets and cobblestone alleys immediately southwest of the Hippodrome have a radically different atmosphere from the rest of tourist-oriented Sultanahmet. Sloping down swiftly to the Sea of Marmara, this little subsection of the city has a couple beautiful mosques, as well as a pleasing working-class vibe.

Sokollu-Mehmet-Pa%c5%9fa-Camii-Inside

Just a few hundred meters from the chaotic crowds at the Blue Mosque, we found the quiet Sokollu Mehmet Paşa Camii. Yet another creation of the Ottoman master architect Mimar Sinan, this lovely mosque was built in 1571 for the Grand Vizier of Suleyman the Magnificent. We were frustrated to find the doors locked, but a student in the attached Koran School suggested we just wait until prayer time.

We relaxed at a nearby rooftop cafe until the call to prayer was issued from the mosque’s solitary minaret. Then, hoping that a solemn demeanor would help us blend in, we filed into the Mehmet Paşa along with the worshipers. This was the first Muslim ceremony I’d witnessed, and I found it quite moving. While we silently observed from the rear of the mosque, an Imam led the prayers. In unison, the men would bow, kneel or join in the chanting. [More Pics of the Sokullu Mehmet Paşa | Location]

Right down the street is the Küçük Ayasofya Camii, or the Small Hagia Sofia, so named because of an architectural and chromatic resemblance to Istanbul’s most famous mosque. It was originally built in 527 as a Byzantine church and, from the exterior, looks its age. So the magnificence of the recently-restored interior comes as a surprise. It’s not as colorful as other mosques, but has a wonderful two-story colonnade, and visitors are allowed to explore the upper floors. [More Pics of the Küçük Ayasofya Camii | Location]

Turkish-Mosque-Detail-Camii
The Greek writing betrays the Küçük Ayasofya’s original use as a Byzantine Church

After finishing up in the Little Hagia Sofia, we poked around the neighborhood. For being so close to Istanbul’s most popular sights, there were few tourists underway on these narrow, uneven streets. Instead, we saw Turks going on about their daily lives — visiting the market, repairing rotted old buildings, and sitting on tiny stools on the sidewalk, drinking tea. [More Pics from the Neighborhood]

To get home, we walked along the Sea of Marmara until reaching the Galata Bridge. This was a longer trek than we had anticipated, but an entertaining one. Views of Asian Istanbul accompanied us the whole way, along with stray cats, fishermen grilling their day’s catch on the wave breakers, and tankers sounding their horns on their way into the Bosphorus. [More Pics from our Walk along the Sea]

Purchase One Of Our Istanbul Photos As Framed Art Here

More Pictures from the Neighborhood
Tent-Market-Istanbul
Cutting-Artichoke
Artichoke-And-Orange
Tile-Gas-Bottle-Turkey
Turkish-Sat-Set
Istanbul-Contrast
Very-Old-Hamam-Istanbul
Old-Wooden-House-Istanbul
Old-Fountain-Istanbul
Turkish-Patterns
Pink-House-Istanbul
Burned-House-Istanbul
Wooden-Detail-Istanbul
Madonna-In-Istanbul
Street-Vendor-Istanbul
Overlooking-Istanbul
More Pictures from the Sokullu Mehmet Paşa
Sokollu-Mehmet-Pa%c5%9fa-Camii-Roof
Istanbul-Mosques
Mosque-Bird
Sokollu-Mehmet-Pa%c5%9fa-Camii
Spring-Istanbul
Koran-School
Mosque-Gate
Beautiful-Mosque-Light
Beautiful-Architecture-Istanbul
Arabic-Detail
Turkish-Cemetery
More Pictures from the Kuçuk Ayasofya
Ku%C3%A7uk-Ayasofya-Isrtanbul
K%c3%bc%c3%a7%c3%bck-Ayasofya-Camii-Minaret
K%c3%bc%c3%a7%c3%bck-Ayasofya-Camii
Marble-Stairs-Istanbul
Mosque-Podest-Istanbul
Grave-Stone-Tops-Istanbul
Tuerkischer-Friedhof-Istanbul
Turkish-Grave-Stone
/Random-Stone
More Pictures from our Walk along the Sea
Cat-Content
Hanging Out In Istanbul
Yacht-Istanbul
Mosque-Ruin-Palace-Istanbul
Palace-Ruins-Istanbul
Light-House-Istanbul
Nature-Ferry
Galata-Tower-Ferry
Ferry-Walk
, , , , , , ,
March 27, 2013 at 9:27 am Comments (2)
The Sapphire Skyscraper in Levent Rocketing 780 feet into the air, the Sapphire building in the modern neighborhood of Levent is Turkey's tallest building. A cafe on the top floor and an open air viewing platform on the roof offer one of Istanbul's most breathtaking views.
For 91 Days