Galata Photo Tour

    New galata 2
    02 Mar 2017
    Clock 60min      Length1mi
    5 ratings

    Tourdescription About the audio tour

    Galata is the most cosmopolitan historical neighbourhood of Istanbul, it's also one of the most picturesque, because it overlooks the old town of Istanbul.

    The most famous landmark here is the Galata Tower, which was built by the Genoese 700 years ago and can be seen from almost anywhere in the city centre. The Genoese actually controlled this part of the city for 180 years and their marks can still be seen everywhere in Galata. The neighbourhood was also home to a large Jewish population during the Ottoman Empire, so you'll find a lot of Jewish heritage here too.

    On this tour, I'll lead you to the best spots to take pictures of the Galata Tower as well as panoramic cityscapes of Istanbul. You'll pass through the hardware market area, where shop blinds and walls are adorned with graffiti and a careful eye will spot intricate patterns to photograph. From there, the route carries on to a 450 year-old caravanserai, traditional Turkish houses, temples, art galleries, museums, and a local fish market with fish sandwich carts lining the shore against the silhouette of the Old Town.

    Majorlandmarks Major Landmarks

    Frej Building, Neve Shalom Synagogue, Galata Tower, Kamondo Stairs, Osmanli Bank Building, Arab Mosque, Rüstem Paşa Han.

    Startingpoint Directions to starting point

    The starting point is Sishane Park. The best way to get to the starting point is using the Metro line M2 (Yenikapi-Haciosman) and get off at the Şişhane station. From here follow the signs to Kasımpaşa and after the turnstiles turn right and exit from the right hand side where you'll see the sign for the Refik Saydam Cad. exit. When you're out, the starting point will be a short walk on the left hand side behind you, in the southwest direction, on top of the underground parking lot.

    Tips Tips

    Places to stop along the way:

    Jewish Museum, Galata Tower, Ashkenazi Synagogue, SALT Galata, Osmanli Bank Museum, cafes and restaurants around Galata Tower, seafood restaurants and fish sandwich carts near the water.

    Best time to walk:

    Late afternoon would the the best as the light is softer and Galata Tower looks great in the pictures when lit. Early morning will work fine too for many spots especially for the cityscapes towards the Golden Horn. Also Galata Tower will be less crowded to visit in the morning. Avoid doing this tour in harsh daylight. Walking this route more than once in different time frames will increase the opportunities for better pictures.


    Arab Mosque will be closed to visits during prayers, if this is the case you may try to re-visit in 20-30 minutes. Also watch the opening times for museums and temples you're planning to visit on the way. You will need your passport if you are visiting the Jewish Museum.


    Plus Write a comment


    If you are reading these reviews and trying to decide whether or not price is worth it, stop wondering. Truly epic adventure, worth every penny for the experience...


    Very good, congratulations!


    Thank you for the perfectly prepared tour.

    Posted by Hakan , 20 days ago

    Galata Photo Tour

    02 Mar 2017
    Clock 60min      Length1mi
    5 ratings


    Galata Photo Tour

    Welcome to the Galata photo tour.

    You should be standing in a tiny park on top of a huge underground parking lot, overlooking the Golden Horn. If you're facing the water, there's a cobbled road called Sadi Konuralp behind you and a hotel building.

    Are you in the right place? Great! Look down the slope in front of you.

    Ok, what is the Golden Horn? The Golden Horn is a body of water that divides the European part of Istanbul in two – the "old" on one side and the "new" on the other. It's said that the name comes from the golden colour of the water at sunset, when you look at it from the Galata Tower. In Turkish, it doesn't have such a fancy name. We simply call it "Haliç", which means "the gulf" or "the bay".

    There are several, elevated spots for a better sunset view, like the Galata Tower, which we'll see later on our tour, or the rooftop cafes and restaurants of some hotels in the area. As a general rule, if you're shooting outdoors, early morning or late afternoon are the best times to take pictures.

    I'm going to show you where to take great pictures and point out some important sights along the way. Of course, if you see something interesting while you walk, just stop and snap your pictures! I can tell you about the places here but not about the people or events happening around you.

    You may want to take some pictures of the view from up here, but let me tell you where to go when you're ready to move on.

    Make your way to Sadi Konuralp Street, which is behind you if you're facing the Golden Horn. Then cross over the road and the thin traffic island, and turn right. You'll be walking towards the roundabout at the center of the cobbled streets.

    VoiceMap uses GPS to pinpoint your location and trigger the relevant audio. This means you can put your phone away now and relax. I will tell you where to go.

    Some simple rules: Turkish people aren't camera-shy in general. It's always a good idea to maintain eye contact and smile when you take pictures of people, instead of sneaking around to get your photo and running away. Spending a couple of minutes with them and trying to communicate when possible is always a plus.

    Okay, I'll leave you to take your pictures. You'll hear from me again when you reach the traffic circle.

    To Büyük Hendek

    To Büyük Hendek
    Galata Photo Tour

    Now walk around the small traffic circle in front of you, and continue straight. We're heading for the road just to the left of the magnificent old building ahead.

    Frej Building

    Frej Building
    Galata Photo Tour

    Turn off the circle, and walk down the narrow lane in front of you. Be careful not to go to the entrance of the parking lot, slightly left and uphill.

    This is the 'new' part of town, but even the newer parts of the city are quite old! On your right is one of the most beautiful buildings around: the Frej apartment building. Stop and have a look.

    It was commissioned by a Lebanese Christian businessman who was born to an American mother and an Arab father, and married to Levantine Istanbulite woman. It's a striking example of how cosmopolitan Galata was, the neighbourhood we're in now.

    Okay, now keep going down the narrow street.

    Galata was a Genoese colony for 180 years, from 1273, and was a bit different to Constantinople across the water. There have always been more western elements here than in the Old Town, though. During the time of the Ottoman Empire, Galata was the main port and financial centre of the city. So all foreign elements like missions, schools and banks started here first. There have been a remarkable Jewish population in Galata too, especially after the Turkish Sultan invited the Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain in 1492.

    Continue straight.

    Neve Shalom Synagogue and The Jewish Museum

    Pay wave

    Now stop here for a moment, and look at the building on your right with its black-iron doors, each with a Star of David.

    This is the largest and busiest synagogue in Istanbul, Neve Shalom. I'll tell you about it in a minute, but first, take a look down the street in front of you. Can you see the round, pointed tower hovering at the end of the lane? That's Galata Tower, and the best spot to take pictures of it is right in the middle of the street you're on now.

    This is a one way road, so cars will be coming towards you. It may be difficult to stand in the street for more than a few seconds. You have to be fast to get a picture during busy hours.

    I recommend coming here early in the morning, preferably at dawn when the tower will be lit and the sky is blue. Then you can take some great pictures of the tower and the street using a tripod. The blue hour after sunset is also great but it's quite unlikely that you'll be able to keep your tripod on the ground long enough for a prolonged exposure.


    Once you've gotten your photo, or if you're ready to move on now, just keep walking straight down the road until you reach the Galata Tower ahead. While you do, I'll tell you about the Neve Shalom synagogue.

    It opened in 1951, replacing a Jewish primary school. Neve Shalom means "oasis of peace". The majority of the Jewish community in Istanbul are Sephardic Jews that were expelled from the Iberian Peninsula in 1492. They were invited to the Ottoman Empire by Sultan Beyazid the 2nd and were resettled in different cities around the empire. They still speak a medieval Spanish language called Ladino, which some music groups in Turkey sing in.

    Even though many have immigrated to Israel, the community still numbers around 20 thousand, of which 18 thousand live in Istanbul. They're active in the business and cultural life of Istanbul. They are quite a thriving community, and have kept their traditions alive.

    Neve Shalom is the only active synagogue in Istanbul that you can visit without prior arrangement, so come back for a look when you have some more time. The Museum of Turkish Jews is in the synagogue too, with wonderful interactive displays and ethnographic material.

    For now, keep walking to the Galata Tower. I'll meet you there.

    Galata Tower

    Pay wave

    Okay, now stop here, in the small square in front of the Galata Tower.

    The tower is 63 meters tall. It was built on the northern end of the citadel in 1348 as part of the Genoese defence system, and was called "The Tower of Christ". It's stone walls are almost 4 meters thick.

    The tower is associated with a story of a 17th century Ottoman citizen called Hezarfen Ahmet Çelebi, who launched himself from the top with self-made wings. He landed in the Asian neighbourhood of Üsküdar, more than 3 kms away across the Bosphorus, and could be considered the pioneer of the parachute or delta wings. The Sultan of the time was afraid of Çelebi's power, saying "he could pose a danger to him", so he was granted a lifetime exile in Algeria.

    During the Ottoman era, the tower was mostly used for fire watching.

    Now, it features a restaurant and a cafe on top. An elevator ride plus 2 flights of stairs brings you to a narrow balcony, where you'll have a 360 degree panorama of Istanbul. The balcony rings around the tower and is very tight, so it's not suitable for tripod photography, and tripods aren't permitted anyway. But using manual mode, you can take a series of hand-held pictures to create an Istanbul panorama. Also have a look inside the tower when you're on the balcony, and outside when in the cafe, for interesting reflections and silhouettes. A polarizer filter may be needed to control the reflections. Night visits are possible only if you have a dinner reservation at the restaurant. There are long queues in the afternoon, so either avoid visiting then or be prepared.

    Please remember that, apart from the Galata Tower, most of the buildings here have panoramic views over the Bosphorus or Golden Horn. So check the rooftops of the hotels, cafes or other public places to enjoy a drink against the silhouette of Istanbul.


    Now face away from the road we came from. Then walk around the tower to the left, making your way around it in a clockwise direction.


    As you walk, have a look to your left at the small fountain with a small canopy over it, facing the tower.

    Can you see it? Look at its intricate marble carvings. The wall it's affixed to is the remnant of the Genoese barbican.

    This fountain was constructed in 1732 by the first Turkish governor of Galata citadel. It was originally built nearby, but was moved here in the 1950s during a neighbourhood restoration.

    Keep walking around the tower. The marble stairs leading to the entrance should be coming up on your right.

    Petraki Apartment Building

    Pay wave

    Let's stop near the entrance of the Galata Tower for a few minutes. I used to live in Galata early 2000s… I'd like to tell you how the area has changed since then.

    I lived on the top floor of the Petraki building, the apartment block on the corner on your left. I was sharing a 6 bedroom apartment with a friend, facing the Galata Tower directly. It may sound quite a luxury, but our roof was leaking and the landlord never responded to our requests to fix it. At the time, this wasn't the best place to live and landlords didn't care much about their property. During nighttime, the dark streets were taken over by stray dogs that could be very aggressive if they didn't know you. Coming home late was quite stressful.

    The infamous brothel of Istanbul was nearby too, and that made the area more prohibitive. The rent was high for our budget, and we wanted to rent out the empty rooms to the foreign visitors, but we failed because of the shabby location.

    When the first jazz club and a 4 star hotel were opened next door we were shocked – who was going to come here?

    Meantime our apartment went on sale for about 20.000 US dollars. My housemate insisted that we should buy it together, but we had no money. But another friend of mine had bought a huge apartment nearby for US$40.000. He was offered US$1,5 million just 10 years after buying it.

    Yes, Galata was gentrified so fast in the last decade, almost all of the buildings were restored; restaurants, clubs and cafes flourished at every corner, the property prices and rents skyrocketed. Currently it's one of the most expensive Istanbul neighbourhoods, and my old apartment building has been almost entirely converted into suites serving the tourists – something we could never do ourselves.

    Okay, let's keep moving. Do you see the narrow lane on the left, going away from Galata Tower? It's just next Gündoğdu cafe, on the corner. That's where we're heading, so make your way down the lane now.

    Camekan Street

    Pay wave

    Before you follow the street to the right, stop and take a moment to look back down the street. You'll see part of the Galata Tower squeezed between the buildings on the both sides. If you have a fisheye lens or a wide angle, it could be an interesting photo. Using the panorama function on your smartphone to take a vertical panorama works perfectly too.

    When you're ready, follow the lane to the right and keep walking. You'll notice a couple of beautiful cafes and small designer shops on this street.

    Ottoman gravestones

    Pay wave

    On your right, there's a little mosque with a few Ottoman gravestones next to it, behind the railings.

    In the Ottoman Empire you could tell someone's status or profession by looking at their headgear. Hence, their headstones were made in the shape of the hats they wore.

    Continue straight.

    Left into Haci Ali Sk.

    Pay wave

    Now turn left, and follow the road.

    As the street curves to the right, there's a rooftop cafe located on the corner. It has great views over the Galata bridge, Old Town, the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus. If you want to have a break, this cafe may be a good pitstop. The light might not be in your favour if you're here in the afternoon. It's best to come in the morning, for a soft light falling on the Old Town on a sunny day.

    When you're ready, continue following the road to the right.

    Ashkenazi Synagogue

    Pay wave

    We're going to turn right here, but before you do, stop and have a look down the stairs to your left.

    In the gap between the buildings you just make out the last active Ashkenazi synagogue of the city. Can you see it? The best spot to get a picture is down the first group of steps and slightly to the left.

    The synagogue has a window with a huge star. If the shop blinds are closed when you visit, you could take a picture of people walking in front of the graffiti with the synagogue in the background.

    When you're ready to move on, climb back up the stairs. Then walk away from the synagogue into the street in front of you, going slightly uphill. I'll meet you at the end of the block.

    Right on Bereketzade Medresesi

    Pay wave

    Okay, now turn right, into Bereketzade Medresesi Street.


    As you walk, look at the building on your left with a tower in the middle, topped with a flag. It hovers over Galata like a castle. It was built as a British seaman hospital in 1904 and serves as an eye hospital today.

    Continue straight.

    Left to Bereketzade Camii Sk.

    Pay wave

    Okay, now turn left and continue down the street. I'll meet you at the end of the block.


    As you walk, have a look at the old stone mosque to your right, with the small public fountain in front of it, almost squeezed into the fence.

    Stop for a picture, if you'd like. Otherwise just carry on heading straight. I'll meet you at the end of the block.

    Photo spot towards Galata Tower

    Pay wave

    We'll turn left in a moment, but first, look to your right. This is a great photo opportunity of the Galata Tower. It's especially good at the blue hour, when the tower is lit.


    When you're ready, turn left and walk away from the tower. As you descend down the hill, keep looking back for new and interesting perspectives.

    The huge panda mural makes a good foreground, and as you continue further the tree branches may be used to give more depth to the picture. You should also plan to include people in your composition here.

    Continue down the hill.

    Old British Jail

    Pay wave

    As you walk, look at the small old building on your left, with its stone masonry and arched entrance.

    It served as a British jail in the early 1900s and later as a British outpost. Today, it's a restaurant serving mostly Georgian food.

    Keep walking straight.

    St. Peter & Paul Church

    Pay wave

    As you follow the road around the bend, have a look at the small Dominican church on your right.

    It was mainly attended by the small Maltese community of Istanbul. The church's history may go back to the 1300s, but the current building is from 1841. It was built by the famous Swiss-Italian Fossati brothers who did the extensive restoration of Hagia Sophia in the 1800s.

    Carry on going straight.

    Left into Kart Çınar Sok.

    Pay wave

    Now turn left here, at the stairs, and keep walking. You will pass an old Genovese building and St George Austrian High School on your left.

    I'll catch up with you again at the next corner.

    Left into Bereketzade Medresesi Sk.

    Pay wave

    Stop for a moment and look to your right. We're going to go down those stairs soon, but first I'd like to show you something. So turn left now, walking uphill and away from the stairs – but remember where they are.

    Right into Felek Sk.

    Pay wave

    Now turn right and carry on going.

    Schneidertempel Art Center

    Pay wave

    Okay, stop here and look at the building on your right-hand side, with its ornate marble entrance and a couple of steps up, leading inside.

    That's the Schneidertempel, which means Tailors' Synagogue. It was founded in 1894 by the Association of Ashkenazi Tailors, and was converted into an art gallery in 1998. It's a beautiful spot to visit if you're into fashion or art, or if you just want to visit the synagogue. It's free entry and you can take pictures too.

    When you're ready to move on again, retrace your steps until you get to the stairs I pointed out earlier. I'll meet you there.

    Kamondo Stairs

    Pay wave

    Let's stop here for a minute.

    You're standing on the Kamondo Stairs. With their unusual shape, the stairs attracted not only my attention, but also the attention of the famous French photographer Henri Cartier Bresson, who took one of his well-known pictures right here.

    The famous Turkish photographer, Ara Güler, told me that he was showing Bresson around during his Istanbul visit, as they were both working for the Magnum photo agency at the time. Güler brought Bresson to the Kamondo Stairs and voila!

    The stairs were commissioned by Jewish banker Abraham Kamondo in the late 1800s. They spiral up from Bankalar Street towards the Austrian High School. Some say, the stairs were built like this to minimize the injuries if someone falls, so they won't tumble all the way to the bottom.

    Bresson took the photo from the bottom of the stairs. This angle is not so good now, because the stairs are now blocked by plants. I was able to take some good pictures from a different angle though – the top! Waiting for someone with a colourful dress or someone carrying flowers or something to pass by may work. A good idea for an interesting picture could be to find a good spot looking down. Then use a wide-angle lens to fill enough of the steps to emphasize the shape. Try to be creative here. For example, you might want to try a slower shutter speed.

    But you can still try Bresson's angle. Just go to the bottom of the stairs and across the street. Then look up towards the steps and wait for some people to include in your picture.


    When you've tried some different angles, and are ready to move on, let me show you where to go. Walk to the bottom of the stairs and turn right. Then just head straight down the road.

    Osmanlı Bank Museum / Central Bank

    Pay wave

    Continue straight. You're walking through Galata, which was the city's financial district. The road you're on now is called Bankalar Caddesi, or 'Banks Street'. Many banks had their headquarters here.

    The Ottoman Bank building on your left is probably the most impressive of all the bank buildings. It's actually two symmetrical twin buildings, and the right half is being used by the Central Bank of Turkey. Keep walking while I tell you about it.

    It was built by French-Ottoman architect Alexander Vallaury in 1892, housing the first bank of the Ottoman Empire. This bank no longer exists, after merging with Garanti Bank. Today, the building houses the Ottoman Bank museum, which has quite an interesting collection on the financial life of Istanbul in 1800s and 1900s. It also houses the SALT Galata art and cultural center.

    Carry on straight.

    Left into Persembe Pazari Cd.

    Pay wave

    Now turn into the lane on your left and keep going downhill.


    As you walk, look at the old stone houses around you, still in good condition, some with zigzagged upper floors.

    Many call them Genoese houses. Typical Turkish houses were mostly made of wood at the time, so they could be easily mistaken for Genoese. But actually the buildings on this street are mostly 18th century Turkish houses, and are currently used as workshops and businesses.

    Keep heading down the hill.

    Right into Galata Mahkemesi Sk.

    Pay wave

    Now turn right here, next to the 2 storey stone building and carry on walking. I'll catch up with you further down the road.

    Arab Mosque

    Pay wave

    Now stop here, and look at the long, stone-and -rick building on your right, with small, arched windows. This is the Arab Mosque.

    Look up at its majestic rectangular minaret, the tall tower beside the mosque. It's used by the imam to call Muslims to prayer. It looks quite different from other minarets in Istanbul. Yes, this is different because it was originally built as a belfry for the St. Paul Catholic church.

    Many claim that the Arab Mosque was built by the Arab Islamic armies when they sieged Constantinople in 715. That disputed information is even written in detail on the walls of the mosque as a fact! But the majority of scholars agree that this building has nothing to do with 8th century Arab architecture. Instead it was built as the cathedral of the Galata colony by Genoese people in the 1200s, and only converted into a mosque afterwards, during the reign of Sultan Mehmed the 2nd.

    Before Spain expelled the Jews in 1492, they also reconquered Granada, the last Moorish stronghold of Andalucia, and forced any remaining Moors to leave. Eventually a group of Muslim North African Moors from Andalucia came to Istanbul and were re-settled around this mosque. They have used it for their prayer ever since. Hence the name.

    Now enter the courtyard of the mosque, passing through the arched gate on your right. The gates open early in the morning every day with the first call to prayer, and stay open until the last prayer finishes in the late evening.

    You can also visit the interior of the mosque, except during prayer times. It's rectangular in shape with no domes, very unusual for Istanbul mosques, and has a lot of wood inside. Occasionally there may be someone performing the previous prayers that they have missed, which makes it a more interesting picture than an empty mosque.

    When you're in the courtyard, head towards the short round structure in the middle. I'll meet you there.

    Şadırvan - Ablution Fountain

    Pay wave

    Stop and have a closer look at this structure.

    This was built much later than the building itself. It was commissioned by princess Adile Sultan in 1800s. In Islam, there is a ritual of ablution in which you wash yourself before the prayer. This is done at an ablution fountain, called "şadırvan" in Turkish. If you're here before prayer time, you may see people cleansing themselves. It's a good spot to take a photo of the faithful in action.

    When you're ready to move on, walk with the mosque on your left and exit this area from the other gate, just across the courtyard.

    Old wooden Turkish houses

    Pay wave

    As soon as you exit the courtyard, you'll be faced with a couple of traditional wooden houses. Once you've had a good look, turn left and walk down the road.

    For many years this was the typical house type in the Ottoman Empire. The Turks were originally nomads who migrated from Central Asia, so it was cheaper and easier for them to use wood to make houses. It was also better for the climate. But this tradition was lost, mainly because Istanbul has suffered badly from massive fires throughout its history.

    Carry on walking. I'll meet you on the end of the road.

    Left to Tersane Caddesi

    Pay wave

    Great! We've arrived at the main road, Tersane Caddesi. Turn left, and carry on walking with the busy street on your right-hand side. I'll leave you in silence for a moment to take in the sights and sounds of the city.

    Right across Tersane Cd. and into Taflan Sk.

    Pay wave

    Okay, now turn right and cross the road at the traffic lights. Only cross when it's green, and be careful as you make your way over the road.

    When you get to the other side, go straight down the street in front of you, away from the main road. I'll meet you further along it.

    Left into Yemeniciler Cd.

    Pay wave

    Turn left here, and carry on walking.

    This area is called Perşembe Pazarı, and it's the place to buy hardware in Istanbul. Any kind of hardware can be found in these shops, organised by their field of expertise. Generally, stores on the same street sell similar products – this is an old Turkish custom. If one shop doesn't have what you're looking for, they will send you to their neighbour, where you might find it. It's quite busy and chaotic here during business hours, so you could get some very interesting photographs. Or if the shops are closed, the graffiti on the shutters will pop in your pictures. So just keep your eyes open while walking here.

    Left to Arap Kayyum Sk.

    Pay wave

    Alright, turn left here at the end of the street and keep going. I'll meet you when you're back on the main road.

    Galata Bedesteni

    Pay wave

    Here at the main road, turn right and keep walking.

    The old stone building on your right is Galata Bedesteni. Bedesten means "marketplace".

    This old marketplace stands on 4 pillars and is covered with 9 domes. It was built during the reign of Fatih Sultan Mehmed in 1400s. If you have some time, feel free to go inside for a look around. When you enter through the green iron gates on the main road, you'll see a few businesses inside, but it's glory days are long gone. There could be a chance for some pictures though, so it's worth checking while you're here.

    When you're done, or if you'd like to keep moving now, just continue down the main road on the right-hand side.

    Right into Kardeşim Sk.

    Pay wave

    Now turn right and walk down this narrow road.

    Right into Kurekciler Kapisi Sk.

    Pay wave

    At the crossroad turn right and a couple of steps will bring you to the gate of Rüstem Pasha Han. The oldest caravanserai on this side of the Golden Horn.

    Rüstem Pasha Han

    Pay wave

    Now stop here and look at the old gate made of wood and metal right in front of you. The gate leads inside the han, through a cobbled passage.

    The sign at the entrance may read "Kurşunlu Han", but this place is mostly known by the name of the person who has commissioned it: Rüstem Paşa.

    For hundreds of years, traders were moved from one point to another, selling, buying and trading. They had to go long distances on camel or horse caravans. The caravanserais provided them and their animals with a place to sleep, rest and trade. "Han" is the word used for the caravanserais when they were built in urban areas.

    An architect called Sinan built this han in a traditional form in the 16th century. It has 2 stories surrounding a long courtyard, and a center staircase leading to the upper floor. Lower floors were for animals and upper floors for guests.

    After this kind of traditional trade declined, the old hans were idle, and eventually many of their rooms were converted into house workshops. Again, as is typical in Turkey, this "han" is specialized in one business: metal springs. You will find any kind of spring here, from the smallest to the largest, used for mattresses, scales, cars, machinery etc. They're either produced here or for sale at one of the workshops.

    The han is open during business hours only. If you have some time, I suggest you go inside. As you enter, look to the left. You'll see an ancient Corinthian column made of marble, most probably Roman. It has been turned upside down to be used as the base for a water pump. You may wander around here, looking at the old doors, shops, and springs hanging all over. If you want to take pictures of people working in their workshops, make sure you ask for permission first.


    When you're ready to move on, return to the street we were just walking on. Then continue to the right, in the same direction as we were going before.

    To the Sea

    Pay wave

    From here, we're heading for the sea, so cross the road in front of you. Then walk straight, following the pedestrian path all the way to the water.

    City Silhouette

    Pay wave

    Keep heading for the sea.

    As you approach the water, you'll have a panorama of Istanbul right in front of you. When you get to the water's edge, stop for a while. This area is generally a good place to hang out and try to get some good pictures, with fish sandwich carts or people in the foreground. The light is better in the late afternoon, as it will fall over the Old Town. There are hotels and restaurants with rooftops around here if you want to have a more elevated position.


    On the left-hand side you can see the Galata bridge. It connects the Old Town to Karaköy. This is the 5th incarnation of the bridge. The plans to make a bridge here go back to the early 1500s, when Sultan Bayezid II rejected Leonardo da Vinci's draft plans to build one over the Golden Horn. The bridge you can see now was built in 1994.


    At the other end of the bridge is the New Mosque from 1600s. Right across, on the top of the hill, sits the Süleymaniye Mosque. It was commissioned by Süleyman the magnificent. Only the sultan himself or his mother has the right to commission a mosque with more than one minaret. So if you see a historical mosque with 2 or more minarets, that means it was a royal mosque and was commissioned by the sultan or his mother. This rule no longer exists though.

    Between the 2 mosques, a bit further ahead, is the slender Beyazıt Tower, which is lit beautifully at nights.


    On the right-hand side you'll see a modern subway bridge designed with horn-shaped towers symbolising the Golden Horn. A bit further to the right, across the water, is a 15th century Fatih Mosque.


    When you have taken some great photos and are ready to move on, keep following the pedestrian trail towards the bridge. You'll pass an open air fish restaurant, then you'll see the Karaköy Fish Market on the left. That's our next stop.

    Karaköy Fish Market

    Pay wave

    Stop here for a moment. You're now in the fish market.

    There are a few restaurants and sandwich carts around the market, and it's a good place to buy or eat fresh fish. Some of the fish carts are known to be very good. Emin Usta, for example, if you can find him. He's also known as Super Mario because he looks just like the video game character.

    The fishing season in Istanbul is from September to mid-April. That's when you can eat the freshest, wild-caught fish, like anchovies, bonito or blue fish. Out of the season you'll find either farmed sea bass or sea bream, and mackerel imported from Norway.

    Previously, the fish-stands lined the shore and were very photogenic. But a new marketplace was opened in 2016, and it isn't as picturesque as it was. The fish sellers used to throw the remains of the fish they cleaned to the gulls, and hundreds gathered and plunged to catch the food in the air or in the water, creating a great effect in the foreground of the mosques across the sea. You can still get close and take pictures of fish sellers or other action around here.

    If you aren't in the mood for some fish and have all the pictures you'd like, just walk straight down the road. Go through the parking lot on the other side, with railings of the pier on your right. Head for the small fluorescent passage going through the end of the Galata bridge ahead. I'll meet you there.

    Through the passage below the Galata Bridge

    Pay wave

    Now walk through the passage going under the bridge, to the other side.

    If you need them, there are some public toilets under the bridge. Sometimes buskers playing "ney" or other traditional instruments perform at the entrance or exit, and they could create a nice silhouette against the backlight coming from the end of the tunnel.

    I'll meet you on the other side of the bridge.

    Along the Seafront

    Pay wave

    Now continue walking, with the sea on your right. We're going to finish the tour at the Golden Horn ferry pier, further along.

    As you walk, there might be photo opportunities along the water, especially in the afternoon or early evening.

    Keep going. I'll meet you at the pier ahead.


    Pay wave

    Here we are, at the tiny Golden Horn ferry pier. This is the end of our time together.

    From here, you can take a ferry across the Golden Horn, to Üsküdar in the Asian side. Or you can take a tram across the Galata bridge from the glass booth tram station on the main road behind you, to get to the Old Town.

    If you continue a little bit further – around 50 meters along the shore – you'll get to a bigger pier. From there you can catch a ferry to the Kadıköy neighbourhood, also on the Asian side of Istanbul. We'll have more tours available at these neighborhoods, and you can explore as you please.

    I hope you've enjoyed the tour. Thank you, and goodbye.

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