Istanbul, Turkey

These are some assorted pictures from Istanbul. These include panoramic pictures taken from atop Galata Tower.

360° Panorama of Istanbul

The above is a 360° panorama (click picture to zoom) of Istanbul, as seen from the top of Galata Tower.

To the left is the Bosphorus strait (connecting the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara) and the Bosphorus Bridge. A bit left of center, we see the meeting of the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn, a large inlet. Past the junction with the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus meets the Sea of Marmara. In the distance (left of center), one can see the Princes' Islands.

The peninsula in the center of the panorama is the Old City. At its tip is Topkapi palace, former home of the Ottoman Sultans. To the right of the palace are Haghia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. To the right of these giants lies the Galata Bridge and the New Mosque. Continuing to the right, we find Beyazit's Tower and the Suleymaniye (it has 4 minarets and 10 balconies).

Continuing to the right, we see the Ataturk bridge and (if you look closely and follow the path of traffic into the Old City from the Ataturk bridge) the Aqueduct of Valens (from the year 375).

Panorama of the Old City

This is a much closer view of the Old City, again from the Galata Tower.

At left, we see Topkapi Palace above the Eminonu waterfront. Behind it, we have a clear view of the Princes' Islands in the Sea of Marmara. To the right of Topkapi Palace we have the (small) Church of St. Eirene followed by the massive Haghia Sophia.

Continuing to the right, we see the Blue Mosque with its six minarets and many balconies. At the end of the Galata Bridge sits the New Mosque. Behind it lie the mosques of Atik Ali Pasa (small) and the Nuruosmaniye Mosque (large). Further to the right we see Beyazit's Tower (on the campus of Istanbul University). The enormous mosque of Suleiman the Magnificent is at the far right of the panorama.

Galata Tower and Bridge

Looking across the Golden Horn from the Eminonu pier (in the Old City), we see the Galata Bridge and Galata Tower. The tower, originally called the Tower of Christ (Christea Turris), was built by the Genoese in 1348. It stands 62m (205ft) high.

If you look closely, you can see a number of restaurants and cafes under the bridge and fisherman on top.

A view of Galata from across the Golden Horn. This picture was taken from the gardens of Topkapi Palace.

Contemporary accounts say that in 1638, a man named Ahmet Celebi used artificial wings to glide from the top of Galata Tower to Uskudar (Scutari) on the Asian side of the Bosphorus. This, however, seems quite unlikely.

A closer view of the Galata Tower. Although the top two floors have been converted into a restaurant and nightclub, the main attraction is the spectacular view of Istanbul that one has from the top of the tower. The panoramic shots at the top of this webpage were taken from the top of Galata Tower.

Contrary to popular belief, this is not the old Byzantine tower of Galata from which the great chain stretched across the Golden Horn. That tower was destroyed in 1204 during that shameful debacle known as the Fourth Crusade.

In ancient times, the area where the modern neighborhood of Galata is located was called Peran en Sykais (Fig Orchard on the Other Side). This is where the 19th century European name Pera for the area further up the hill (near modern Taksim square) arose.

There are numerous restaurants underneath the Galata Bridge.

By the 400's, Galata was already a bustling suburb of old Constantinople. Emperor Theodosius II (reigned 408 - 450) established a fortress here, the foundations of which can still occasionally be seen here and there.

Some assert that the name Galata comes from the Greek word for "milk" and suggest that the name indicates that the area was farmland during the early years of the Byzantine Empire. However, others suggest that it refers to a group of Galatians (from the central Anatolian highlands) who settled there during the Hellenistic period.


This is the view from the campus of Bogazici University (Bosphorus University). Certainly, this must be one of the most scenic college campuses in the world. This is the harbor at Fenerbahce (which means lighthouse garden), on the Asian side of Istanbul. This district is home to one of the big Turkish sports clubs (mostly famous for football), founded in 1907.
This is the Franciscan church of St. Anthony of Padua, one of the many fascinating buildings hidden on the side streets of Istiklal Caddesi (once known as the Grand Rue de Pera to the many foreigners who lived here). The present church dates only from 1913, although a church has occupied this spot since 1725. Near Taksim Square, hidden behind a number of buildings, is this Greek Orthodox Church.
Right next to Haghia Sophia (although dwarfed by it) is the Hamam of Haseki Hurrem, better known as the Baths of Roxelana. Commissioned by one of the wives of Suleiman I ("the Magnificent"), it was completed by the famed architect Sinan in 1556. The building is now home to a state-run carpet store. This picture is simply a detail of the fascinating pattern of skylights. This shady path is in Gulhane Park (Park of the Rose-House), just outside of Topkapi palace.
This is the Goth's Column, a hidden feature of Gulhane Park. It was probably built during the reign of the Emperor Claudius II Gothicus (268 - 270 CE), although Constantine I is another possibility. An inscription at its base once read:
which translates as "To Fortune, who returns by reason of the defeat of the Goths." It has also been asserted that a statue of Byzas the Megaran (the legendary founder of Byzantium) once stood atop the column.
Apparently these ruins have never been excavated or properly examined. A fragment of an inscription in Latin reads "CONST...," which seems to indicate that the building dates from the time of Constantine I ("the Great," reigned 324 - 337) or possibly Constantius (reigned 337 - 361).
This is the fountain of Sultan Ahmet III, built in 1728. It stands in the square immediately before the Imperial Gate of Topkapi Palace. Haghia Sophia is in the background. This little kitten was sleeping on a bench outside of the Blue Mosque. Street cats are common in Istanbul, and consequently, so are street kittens.
This is a cafe near Istinye, a coastal neighborhood between Emirgan and Yenikoy. The renaissance period French scholar Pierre Gilles noted:
"[Istinye], after the Golden Horn must be acknowledged the largest bay and the safest port of the entire Bosphorus, rich as this is in bays and ports."
The modern name Istinye is apparently a corruption of the Byzantine name Sosthenion, which might itself be a corruption of Leosthenion, a companion of Byzas the Megaran. On the other hand, it might also refer to a statue of thanksgiving erected in the area by the Argonauts.
This is Sirkeci station, the last stop on the old Orient Express. The architect of the building (which dates to 1890) was August Jachmund, a Prussian who taught architecture in Istanbul.
During the 19th century, the neighborhood of Beyoglu (known to the Europeans of the era as Pera) was inhabited by European traders and diplomats. The area still retains much of the original 19th century European architecture and many foreign consulates and schools are located in the area.

The alleys and side streets in Beyoglu (old Pera) contain innumerable shops, restaurants, markets, and bars.
Although this is a poorer section of the city, the houses are still quite colorful. Also note the number of satellite dishes. This is part of a late Ottoman-era mansion which has been converted into a restaurant.