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Things to Do in Istanbul - page 2

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German Fountain (Alman Çeşmesi)
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44 Tours and Activities

The German Fountain (Alman Çesmesi)—also known as the Kaiser Wilhelm Fountain—is located in the Hippodrome part of Istanbul. The Hippodrome was a central point of Byzantine culture and Kaiser Wilhelm's Fountain is a prominent sight within the Hippodrome.

The German Fountain was commissioned by German Emperor Wilhelm II, hence its name. Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II had the fountain constructed in Germany after his visit to Istanbul in 1898 during which he met with the Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamid II. The fountain was then transported in pieces to Istanbul as a thank you gift from emperor for his stay in the city and it was erected in 1901 on Kaiser Wilhelm II's birthday as a symbol of positive relations between Germany and Turkey.

The neo-Byzantine style of the fountain fits in nicely with the aesthetics of the old Hippodrome, thanks to its octagonal and stately gazebo-style dome ceiling and columns. Peer underneath the dome to see its golden, mosaic design. Also take note of the symbols on the fountain which consists of Sultan Abdülhamid II's tughra and the symbol of Kaiser Wilhelm II's reign. There is also an inscription from Wilhelm II on the fountain mentioning how he was thankful for his time visiting Istanbul and Abdülhamid II. In addition, you’ll see taps coming out the sides of the fountain with running water where you can wash your hands and feet.

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Balat
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A historically Jewish neighborhood in Istanbul, Balat shows off its roots in two major synagogues, which are still standing. Visitors also head to the Byzantine-era Chora Museum, formerly the Chora Church, to see its mosaics and frescoes. The colorful cafes and shops on the lower streets of Balat attract a big afternoon crowd.

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Hagia Irene (Aya Irini)
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The 6th-century Hagia Irene (Aya Irini) was the first church built in Constantinople—and the only one that was not turned into a mosque upon the arrival of the Ottomans. As a result, the original Byzantine architecture still awes. Under its dome and peaked ceilings, the building currently serves as a museum.

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Troy (Truva)
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Troy is one of the world’s most famous ancient cities, renowned for being the site of the Trojan War, as described by Homer inThe Iliad. Today’s Troy—a UNESCO World Heritage-listed area of ruins and archaeological excavations—contains the remains of multiple settlements, some dating back 5,000 years.

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Cicek Pasaji (Flower Passage)
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Cicek Pasaji was the most glamorous address in the Beyoğlu district during the heady days of the Orient Express, and today the historic 19th-century arcade is known for its restaurants and lively bar scene. Opened in the old site of the grand Naum Theatre in 1876, Cicek Pasaji was originally known as Cité de Péra, but following the 1917 Russian Revolution the galleria became known as Cicek Pasaji (Turkish for Flower Passage) because some of the newly-impoverished bourgeois Russian women who fled to Istanbul to start again began selling flowers here. By the 1940s, the new name stuck because by then, most of Cité de Péra’s buildings were occupied by flower shops.

Once home to some of Istanbul's most glamorous apartments and stores, by the time of the Second World War, the exclusive shops had turned into rough and rowdy meyhanes (taverns). But the galleria has since been restored and refurbished, and a glass canopy was fitted in 1998, so that a visit to Cicek Pasaji will let you see the arcade’s grand Second Empire architectural style returned back to its original glory.

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Rahmi M. Koc Museum (Rahmi M. Koç Müzesi)
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The Rahmi M. Koc Museum (Rahmi M. Koç Müzesi) is situated on the north side of the historic Golden Horn in Istanbul. Conceived by the Koç family, it’s the only major museum in Turkey dedicated to the history of transport, industry, and communications.

The museum is divided into two parts; a new building on the Golden Horn side, and a converted Byzantine stone building right opposite. Its collection features thousands of items, most of which are from Mr. Rahmi M. Koç’s private collection. These items include full-size ships, vintage aircrafts, steam engines, submarines, agricultural machinery, and many more artefacts from İstanbul’s industrial past.

The eclectic exhibits at the Rahmi M Koç Museum are particularly popular with children, as there are opportunities to sit in a classic car, take a cruise on a 1936 steam tug (summer weekends only), hop aboard a 1944 US naval submarine, and much more besides.

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Camlica Hill (Camlica Tepesi)
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The best way to see the sprawling city of Istanbul is from above, and Camlica Hill (Camlica Tepesi) is one of the prime places to take in that view. Located near the Uskudar neighborhood on the city’s Asian side, the hill—which comprises two peaks, Big Camlica and Little Camlica—is home to tea gardens and green lawns that attract local picnickers.

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Gallipoli Peninsula (Gelibolu Yarimadasi)
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The World War I battle on the turquoise coastline of Turkey’s Gallipoli Peninsula (Gelibolu Yarimadasi) was symbolic for Turks, Australians, and New Zealanders, many of whom trace their national identity to its tragic outcome. Every year on Anzac Day, Australians and New Zealanders flock to the Dardanelles to pay respects to their thousands of fallen countrymen.

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Mihrimah Sultan Mosque (Mihrimah Sultan Camii)
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Commissioned in the 16th century by Suleiman the Magnificent for his daughter, Mihrimah Sultan Mosque (Mihrimah Sultan Camii) in Edirnekapi was designed by the celebrated Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan. The mosque is dappled with windows that let sunlight into the space and is topped by a monumental dome. Unlike most imperial mosques, it only has one minaret.

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Galatasaray High School (Galatasaray Lisesi)
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Founded in the 15th century as an imperial palace school, Galatasaray High School (Galatasaray Lisesi) continues to be Turkey’s most prestigious school. The curriculum is drawn from the French lycée model, and classes are taught in both Turkish and French. The ornate gate at the center of Istiklal Street is a popular meeting spot.

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More Things to Do in Istanbul

Kariye Museum (Kariye Müzesi)

Kariye Museum (Kariye Müzesi)

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Originally built as the Church of the Holy Savior during the Byzantine era and converted to a mosque during the Ottoman rule of Istanbul, Khora Church is now a museum with colorful, well-preserved frescoes and mosaics. Located outside the Old City in the Edirnekapi neighborhood, the art-filled Kariye Museum (Kariye Müzesi) is well worth the trek.

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Istanbul City Walls (Walls of Constantinople)

Istanbul City Walls (Walls of Constantinople)

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Marking the boundaries of Istanbul’s historical center, the Istanbul City Walls (Walls of Constantinople) still stand on the Old City peninsula. Built in the fourth and fifth centuries, the defensive walls were breached in 1453 when the Ottomans conquered Constantinople. Today many sections have been restored and cut through bustling historical neighborhoods.

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Tombs of Osman and Orhan (Osman Gazi Türbesi)

Tombs of Osman and Orhan (Osman Gazi Türbesi)

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Find the Tombs of Osman and Orhan (Osman Gazi Türbesi) founders of the Ottoman Empire, in Tophane Park in Bursa. Built in an Ottoman baroque style by Sultan Abdulaziz in 1863, after the original tombs were destroyed by an earthquake in 1855, the lavishly decorated tombs pay homage to the first sultan of the Ottoman Empire, his son, and their family.

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Aga Turkish Bath (Aga Hamami)

Aga Turkish Bath (Aga Hamami)

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Experience a traditional Turkish bath at one of Istanbul’s oldest bathhouses (hamams), Aga Hamami. Originally built in 1454 for Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror, this historical hamam offers a Turkish bath experience—a must-do when visiting Istanbul—to men, women, and couples in a relaxed, mixed setting.

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Obelisk of Theodosius

Obelisk of Theodosius

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Jutting out of Istanbul’s Hippodrome, the Egyptian Obelisk of Theodosius originated at the Temple of Karnak in the 15th century BC and arrived in Constantinople in AD 390, courtesy of Emperor Theodosius I. The obelisk decorated the ancient Hippodrome’s horse-racing track, which has long since been converted to a public square—but the obelisk remains.

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Museum of Innocence (Masumiyet Müzesi)

Museum of Innocence (Masumiyet Müzesi)

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Opened in 2012 by Turkish author and Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk, Istanbul’s Museum of Innocence (Masumiyet Müzesi) is designed to complement Pamuk’s novel of the same name. The exhibitions tell the story of his book through objects that Pamuk collected personally. It isn’t necessary to have read the book to enjoy the evocative collection.

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Istanbul Aquarium (Istanbul Akvaryum)

Istanbul Aquarium (Istanbul Akvaryum)

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Containing more than 1,500 sea and land creatures, the Istanbul Aquarium (Istanbul Akvaryum) has a rich and diverse collection of aquatic life from 16 geographical zones. With interactive exhibitions in English and Turkish, overhead shark tanks, multiple cafés, and a 5D movie theater, there is enough in the aquarium to entertain the family for hours.

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Sapanca Lake (Sapanca Gölü)

Sapanca Lake (Sapanca Gölü)

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Sapanca Lake (Sapanca Gölü) is a rather large, 45-square-kilometer fresh water lake in Northwestern Turkey. Wedged between the Gulf of Izmit and the Adapazari Meadow, the lake is surrounded by forest-covered mountains on its northern side; because of its outstanding natural beauty, the area has become one of the top weekend getaways destinations for Istanbulites and even international visitors. There are several hotels and holiday villas on the lakeshore. A popular way to explore the Sapanca Lake region is by bike; many tour operators in the area offer pre-made itineraries and bike rentals for day-trippers. There are several buildings of interest in the region as well, including wonders of the Ottoman and Byzantine eras. Due to the proximity of the Black Sea, the Sapanca area benefits from an oceanic climate with warm summers and cool winters. Part of what makes Sapanca so special is the fact that it gets covered in snow in the wintertime, making it an ideal ski resort close to Istanbul.

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Eyup Sultan Mosque

Eyup Sultan Mosque

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Istanbul’s Eyup Sultan Mosque (Eyup Sultan Camii) was built in 1458, only five years after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople, and rebuilt in the 18th and 19th centuries. Located on the Golden Horn outside the historical Walls of Constantinople, it was the site of coronations for Ottoman princes throughout the empire’s early era.

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Military Museum and Cultural Center Command (Askeri Müze)

Military Museum and Cultural Center Command (Askeri Müze)

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Celebrating the long history of the Turkish military, the Military Museum and Cultural Center Command (Askeri Müze) displays thousands of pieces of military paraphernalia in the First Army Headquarters building. There are weapons from Islamic, Iranian, Caucasian, European, and Turkish periods, and exhibitions about WWI and the Turkish War of Independence.

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St. Anthony of Padua Church (Sent Antuan Bazilikasi)

St. Anthony of Padua Church (Sent Antuan Bazilikasi)

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A quiet oasis off of Istiklal Street, St. Anthony of Padua Church (Sent Antuan Bazilikasi) is the largest Roman Catholic parish in Istanbul. The neo-Gothic church in Taksim is open to the public, and mass is conducted by Italian priests is a variety of languages. The original building was constructed in the 18th century, but the current building dates to 1912.

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Anzac Cove (Anzak Koyu)

Anzac Cove (Anzak Koyu)

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Anzac Cove (Anzak Koyu), a small area on Turkey’s Gallipoli Peninsula, holds a huge amount of importance, particularly for Australians and New Zealanders. During the 8-month Gallipoli Campaign in World War I, Anzac Cove was the primary landing spot for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC)—and many soldiers lost their lives in battles here.

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Eminonu Pier (Eminönü Iskelesi)

Eminonu Pier (Eminönü Iskelesi)

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Located along the southern end of the Galata Bridge, Eminonu Pier (Eminönü Iskelesi) is a central transportation point for Istanbul’s intercontinental ferries and public Bosphorus cruises. From here, boats head to Kadikoy, Uskudar, and the Princes Islands. To add to the energy, hawkers sell grilled fish sandwiches, roasted chestnuts, and steamed corn by the waterfront

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Madame Tussauds Istanbul

Madame Tussauds Istanbul

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Madame Tussauds needs little introduction as the world’s most famous waxworks museum, and its Istanbul doors opened in 2016. Inside, view the collection of almost 60 waxwork figures includes important figures from Turkish history, politics, and pop culture, as well as international celebrities, Hollywood movie stars, and sporting icons.

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