Gnomon: Trip to Istanbul 2018

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Here's what we did.

TuesdayTravelling to Istanbul
Dinner in Restaurant near Hotel
Wednesday amHagia Sophia
The Yerevatan Cistern
Sultanahmet Square, Old Hippodrome and the Columns
Lunch in famous Sultanahmet Meatball Place
Wednesday pmAttempt to visit Blue Mosque - closed for prayer
The Column of Constantine

The Grand Bazaar
Walked to the Süleymaniye Mosque but closed for prayer
Thursday amThe Topkapı Palace
Lunch in Palace Self-service Restaurant
Thursday pmT1 Tram and Kabatash Funicular
Taksim Square
Istiklal Street and Nostaljik Tram
Queued for Galata Tower but gave up
Dinner in Nevizade Sokak
Tünel Underground Funicular

Friday am
Panorama 1453
The Land Walls of Theodosius
Quick lunch at Edirnekapı
Friday pmThe Chora Church Museum
El to visit friend, Iz and I to Sea Life, with dinner at Forum Food Court
Saturday amThe Tombs of the Sultans
Attempt to visit Blue Mosque - closed for prayer
Coffee in Beyoglu
Saturday pmGalata Tower
Istiklal Street - Turkish Delight
Boat to Asia - Kadiköy - Market - Alligator Monument - Return
Dinner with friend off the Mese
SundayBlue (Sultanahmet Mosque)
Travelling home.

Museum Pass

The Museum Pass costs 185 TL per person (about €30) and gives admission into most things: Hagia Sophia, Topkapı Palace and Hagia Eirene, Mosaic Museum, Chora Museum, Archaeological Museum etc. Also allows you to join the priority queue. Covers five days and you can go once into each attraction.

Some other sights give a discount with it as well.

It does not cover the following paying attractions: the Dolmabahçe Palace, the Yerevatan Cistern, the Galata Tower or Panorama 1453.

Other Things We Might Have Seen but Didn't

North of the Golden Horn

  • The Dolmabahçe Palace

South of the Golden Horn

  • The Spice (Egyptian) Bazaar
  • The Süleymaniye Mosque
  • Rüstem Paşa Mosque
  • The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts
  • Archaeology Museum(s) - still mainly closed - museum pass gives 10% discount in shop and café
  • Railway Museum at Sirkeci Station, Eminönü (Istanbul Demiryolu Müzesi)
  • Hagia Eirene

Fatih/Constantinople - Further West

  • Laleli (Tulip) Mosque - Ottoman baroque interior (on Tram T1 - Laleli-Üniversite)
  • Valens Aqueduct
  • Yedikule Hisari Castle of Seven Towers and the Golden Gate
  • Belgrad Gate (aka Xylokerkos Gate) - a restored gate of the Walls

A Bit Further Out

  • Rumeli Hisari Müzesi (Fortress of Europe)
  • Beylerbeyi Palace (Asian Side)
  • Tombili Cat Statue in Kadıköy
  • Moda Loop Tram

Bosphorus Tour

Şehir Hatları is a reputable transport company operating most of the major ferries. Their terminal appears to be in Eminönü to the east of the Galata Bridge.

They do a Short Circle Bosphorus Tour (Kısa Boğaz Turu) which takes 2 hours and goes from Eminonu as far as the 2nd Bridge (Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge) and back. Sounds about right. Current timetable says it starts at 14:30. Discount 25% with museum pass. In Winter Season, this seems to run only on Saturdays and Sundays.

The Full Bosphorus Tour (Uzun Boğaz Turu) takes about 6 hours in total so it sounds too much for our short trip.


There are two aquariums in Istanbul:

  • Sea Life - sounds very good. Get T1 tram as far as Yusufpaşa, walk to Metro station Aksaray (350m), get Metro line M1 as far as Kocatepe, walk about 300m to Sea Life.
  • Istanbul Aquarium (İstanbul Akvaryum) - this is supposed to be one of the biggest aquariums in the world, but it is hard to get to, being just beyond the airport. You can get a train and then a bus.

Ferry Along the Golden Horn

The Haliç Hatti (Golden Horn Line) goes from Eyüp along the Golden Horn and then across the Bosphorus to Üsküdar once an hour on the half hour, stopping at:

Eyüp (S), Sütlüce (N), Ayvansaray (S), Hasköy (N), Balat(S), Fener (S), Kasimpaşa (N), Karaköy (N) (east of the bridge), Üsküdar (E)

S = south (Fatih/Constantinople) side of Golden Horn

N = north (Beyoğlu/Galata) side

E = Asian side of Bosphorus

Fare seems to be small (1TL?, 3TL?)

The Aynalıkavak Kasrı Museum

Verdict: Skip

This is described as a 'hidden gem' by some. It is an Ottoman "Kiosk" (Mansion) in the Hasköy region on the north side of the Golden Horn. The building is a good example of Ottoman architecture and also houses a collection of Turkish classical musical instruments in the basement.

The name is not the one the Ottomans used for the building. It appears to mean literally 'Mirrored Poplar Pavilion'. One site says it is called this because of a bizarre story about Venetians hanging decorative mirrors on the trees. Another site says it is actuall 'Poplar with Target Pavilion' because there was an archery target on one of the trees.

The museum is hard to get to as it is not near a tram or metro. You can take a bus (47, 47C, 47E from Eminönü) or taxi, or can take the Haliç Hatti ferry to Hasköy and walk 800m. Open every day except Monday and Thursday, 09:00 - 16:00. Admission 5TL. There's a café.

A palace was built on the site in the 1600s and it presumably had a nice view out over the Golden Horn, but later a huge shipyard was built between it and the water. The present building dates from 1703 but was remodelled a few times in the late 18th and the 19th centuries.

Fethiye Museum aka Pammakaristos

According to the official website, this has been closed for restoration since April 2018.

Some Turkish Words used in Place Names

  • Bulvar - Boulevard / Avenue
  • Caddesi - Avenue / Street
  • Cami - Mosque
  • Çarşi - Bazaar, Market
  • Çeşmesi - Drinking Fountain
  • Haliç - Estuary, The Golden Horn
  • Kapı - Gate
  • Köprüsü - Bridge
  • Medresesi - Religious School
  • Müzesi - Museum
  • Sarayı - Palace
  • Sokaku - Street / Lane
  • Türbesi - Mausoleum / Tomb

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