Istanbul - 3rd Capital İstanbul

About 300,000 years ago the first inhabitants of what is now Istanbul made their home in Yarimburgaz Cave on the shores of Kucukcekmece lake. At the end of the last ice age, when the lake formed, human beings continued to inhabit the cave through the Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods. Meanwhile on the Asian coast of Istanbul, excavations near Dudullu have uncovered tools dating from the Lower Palaeolithic age (around 100,000 years ago). And near Agacli north of the city, Middle Palaeolithic and Upper Palaeolithic period tools have been found. There was an important culture at Fikirtepe on the Kurbagilidere river in Kadikoy around 5000 BC.

Istanbul - Anadolu Hisarı 

The castle covering seven acre area and giving its name to the location was built by Sultan Beyazid I (Yildirim) as the front military station of Ottoman in 1395. The building was added "Hisarpence", storehouse and some residental buildings by Mehmed II. In 1928 some repair works were made by kandilli Municipality. Some repairs were made by Ministry of Culture in 1991-1993. Today Anadolu Hisari is within borders of Beykoz Municipality. There is no movable cultural assets in the castle. It has not been opened for visits. 


Mualla Aqueduct: One of the many built by Mimar Sinan, this is one of four in the Alibey river valley.

Uzun Aqueduct: Constructed by Mimar Sinan during Kanuni Sultan Süleyman period, this is approximately 1500m north west of Kemerburgaz.

Güzelce Aqueduct: These piece of art, also known as Cebeci Köy Aqueduct, was contructed by Mimar Sinan during Kanuni Sultan Süleyman's period, and lies 1500m east of the village of Cebeci, south of Kemerburgaz.

Bahçeköy Aqueduct : Also known as the Sultan Mahmut Aqueduct, it lies 1km from Bahçeköy through Büyükdere, and was completed in 1731 during the reign of Mahmut I.

Archeology Museum 

The Directorate of Istanbul Archeology Museums that is dependent on the General Directorate of Monuments and Museums of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Turkey is on the Osman Hamdi Bey Ascent that opens to the Topkapi Palace Museum from the right of the Gulhane Park Entry which is in the Sultanahmet district.

İstanbul Archeology Museums consist of three museums. Those are Archeology Museum, Old Eastern Works Museum and Enameled Kiosk Museum.

İstanbul Archeology Museums, which were established as Muze-i Humayun (Empire Museum) by the famous artist and museum director Osman Hamdi Bey at the end of the 19th century, were opened to public on June 13, 1891. Besides its importance as the 'first Turkish museum', it has an importance and specialty being one of the museum buildings that are constructed as a Museum in the World. Today, it still protects its outstanding place in the World's biggest museums with its works more than a million belonging to various cultures.

In the museum collections, there are rich and very important works of art belonging to various civilizations from the regions from Balkans to Africa, from Anatolia and Mesopotamia to Arab Peninsula and Afghanistan that were in the borders of the Ottoman Empire.

Archeology Museum
The Archeology Museum consists of two separate buildings.

I) Main Building (Old Building)

Its construction was started in 1881 by Osman Hamdi Bey and with the additions in 1902 and 1908 it gained its latest form. Its architect is Alexander Vallaury. The outer face of the building was made by inspiring from the Iskender Tomb and Crying Women tombs. It is a beautiful example of neoclassical buildings in İstanbul.

On the upper floor of the two-flat building there are small stone works, pots and pans, small terracotta statues, the Treasure Department and approximately 800.000 Ottoman coins, seals, decorations, medals and Non-Muslim and Muslim Coin Cabinets, in which coin moulds were kept, and a Library with approximately 70.000 books.

On the bottom floor saloons of the building, famous tombs are displayed such as Iskender Tomb, Crying Women Tomb, Satrap Tomb, Lykia Tomb, Tabnit Tomb that are in the Sayda king graveyard.

On the bottom floor, besides the display of tombs, there is Old Age Statuary display in which statues and relieves from important antic cities and regions take place. In this display, the development of the art of statuary from Archaic Period to the Byzantium Period is displayed in chronological order with outstanding examples.

II) Additional Building (New Building)
The additional building attached to the southeast of the main building is of 6 stories. There are depots in the two stories under the ground floor.

The four stories of the building are arranged as exhibition saloons. There is 'İstanbul for Ages' on the first floor of the building, 'Anatolia and Troia for Ages' on the second floor and 'Surrounding Cultures of Anatolia: Cyprus, Syria-Palestine' on the top floor. There is Infant Museum and architectural works display on the first floor of the additional building. The Thrakia-Bithynia and Byzantium display saloon, which was opened in August 1998, can be visited on the floor under the first floor with the name of 'Surrounding Cultures of İstanbul'.

The museum has received the European Council Museum Award in 1991, which is its 100. establishment anniversary, with the new arrangement made in the lower floor saloons and the Additional Building display.

Old Eastern Works Museum
The building, which was made by Osman Hamdi bey in 1883 as Sanayi-i Nefise (Fine Arts School), was organized as a museum with the works made between 1917-1919 and 1932-1935. The building, which was closed to visit in 1963, was opened to visit again in 1974 with a new display by changing the inner parts.

On the upper floor of the two-flat building, Anatolian, Mesopotamian, Egyptian and Arabic works of art are displayed. Statue of Naramsin, the king of Akad, the Kades Agreement and Zincirli statue are the unique works of art in the museum.

Moreover, in this museum there is a 'Tablet Archive' in which 75.000 documents with cuneiform writings are kept.

Enameled Kiosk Museum
The kiosk that has been made by Fatih Sultan Mehmet in 1472 is one of the oldest examples of Ottoman civil architecture in Istanbul. It has been used as Muze-i Humayun (Empire Museum) between 1875-1891. It was opened to public in 1953 with the name of Fatih Museum where Turkish and Islamic works of art were displayed and it was transferred to Istanbul Archeology Museums due to its site.

The entrance facade of the kiosk is single-flat and the back facade is of two-stories. There is a marble porch of 14 columns in the entrance. The entrance exedra is decorated with mosaic enamels. Various chinaware and ceramics from the Seljuk and Ottoman period are displayed in the Kiosk that forms from 6 rooms and a middle saloon. There are approximately 2000 works of art in the museum and its depots.


Traditionally the more valuable goods were in the old central area, called Ic Bedesten, because it was more secure. As quite typical of the area, most streets are laid out and devoted to a particular trade, for example gold on Kuyumcular Caddesi, leather on Bodrum Han, and shoes on Kavaflar Sokak. But the trade has also spilled out onto the surrounding streets, and it is very common to see Russian traders buying up huge sacks of leather jackets or shoes outside the main entrance. Even the streets leading to the Golden Horn are lined with outdoor stalls, which have traditionally been controlled by strict trading laws to reduce competition between traders.

Apart from the usual shops selling clothes, textiles, jewellry and carpets, there are small workshops where craftsmen cast and beat silver or brass, in a skilled trade handed down through the generations. If all that shopping, bargaining and fending off persuasive salesmen is a little too tiring, there are also traditional cafes dotted inside the bazaar in which to relax, eat and sip tea. There are also money-changing booths inside and out. It is slightly less crowded during weekdays, as most locals shop at weekends.

Mısır Çarşısı (Egyptian Bazaar)
Also known as the Spice Market, this is Istanbul's second bazaar, constructed in the same complex as Yeni Camii (or New Mosque). There are six gates, which make it an attractive exterior. The L-shaped market, together with the mosque, were built for the mother of Mehmet IV, a powerful woman who ruled the harem and, some would say, much of the empire.

Although no longer the prime spice trading area of the city, there is still the aroma of ginger, cardamom, pepper and saffron from the piles of spices sold from many stalls. These days it is also popular for great varieties of lokum (turkish delight), small souvenirs, flavoured teas and local delicacies - including the dubious sounding 'Turkish Viagra'. Locals come here to shop for bed linen and towels, as well as for fruit and vegetables, coffee, clothes, pots and pans in the surrounding cramped backstreets. Outside the market on the Galata Bridge end, is this is the best place to choose olives from huge barrels, and many varieties of beyaz penir (white cheese).


Bakırcılar (Copper Smiths)
Bazaar Lesser known and smaller, but nonetheless just as interesting is this market in Beyazit, under the north and east walls of Istanbul University. Copper is beaten and produced into many shapes, sizes and forms, and shops sell cauldrons, saucepans, buckets, candlesticks and the like.

Beylerbeyi Palace

Beylerbeyi, in which the Asian Tower of Bosphorus Bridge was constructed, is a beautiful district allotted for palaces since the Byzantium era. Sultan Abdulaziz built the Palace, to replace the older, wooden palace, between 1861 and 1865. Eastern and Turkish motifs are used with western design elements were used on the sides of the buildings and for internal decorations. The atmosphere resembles that of Dolmabahce Palace.

The building comprises of three floors, and contains 26 rooms and 6 halls, which includes the harem and men's greeting rooms. The interior is decorated with Bohemian chandeliers, valuable tiles and ceramic vases. Silver-edged furniture and luxurious carpets add something to the beauty, and even till today the authentic furniture, carpets, curtains and other properties have been well preserved.

A big pool, terraces and stables face the back of the cliff. A road and tunnel, used until 1970, passed under the palace garden and were used by the most distinguished foreign dignitaries when visiting the palace.

Open daily except Monday and Thursday. 

Caria Museum 

Kariye is located at Edirnekapı section of İstanbul. The dictionary meaning of Kariye (Caria) is "outside of the city", or "rural" in old Greek. The existence of a chapel outside the city walls in very old is mentioned in some sources. The first Khora Church was built on the site of this chapel by Justinianus. The building which managed to survive until the times of the Commenos with various additions and repairs, gained importance when the Imperial Palace Blakhernia near the city walls was expanded. At the end of 11th century Maria Dukaina, the mother-in-law of Emperor Alexi I had it rebuild. The church has a kiborion shaped space whose dome is carried by four arches. During the Latin occupation of 1204 - 1261, both the monastry and the church became extremely run down. During the reign of Andronikos (1282 - 1326), one of the prominent names of the day, the writer, poet and the minister of treasury Theodore Methocite had the monastry and the church repaired towards 1313, and had an annex to the north of the building, an outer narthex to the west and a chapel (Parekklesion) to the south. These new additions were decorated with frescoes and mosaics. Parekklesion, which is a long single naved chapel going along the southern facade, is built above a basement floor. It is partially covered with a dome and the remaining sections are covered by vaults. It has a single abscissa. The outer narthex which runs along the full western facade forms the present facade. The northern wing is only an insignificant corridor. The central dome has a high drum. It is a Turkish period restoration and is made of wood. Outer facades are given plasticity and movement with round arches, half braces, niches and rows of stone and brick. The eastern facade is finished with abscissa extending to the exterior. The middle abscissa is supported with a half arched brace.

The building was used as a church after the conquest of Istanbul but was converted into a mosque in 1511 by the Visier Grand Hadim Ali Pasha, who later added a school and a alm kitchen next to it. After the conversion, the mosaics and frescoes were covered, sometimes by wooden blinds and sometimes by whitewashing over them. All the mozaics and frescoes were uncovered with the work carried out by the American Institute of Byzantine Research between 1948 - 1958.

Chora mosaics and frescoes are the most beautiful examples of the last period of Byzantine art (14th century). They show a striking similarity. The monotonous background of the former period cannot be seen here. The concept of depth, recognition of the placticity and movement of the figures and the elongation in the figures are the characteristic of this style. Scenes from life of Jesus are given on the outer narthex while the inner narthex has scenes from the life of Madonna.On the portal of the door joining the outer to the inner narthex, there is Christ the "Pantocrator". On the left the scenes depict the birth of Jesus, population cencus being carried out under the supervision of Governor Cyrinus, the angel telling Joseph to leave taking Mary with him, the multiplication of loaves of bread, water turning to wine and on the right side scenes such as messanger kings informing about the birth of Christ, healing of the stroke victims and the massacre of children.

The most beautiful mosaic on the inside is Deisis. There is Jesus in the center with Mary on the left, below Mary, Isaac Commenus and a nun on the right of Jesus. This woman is the daughter of the Mikhael Palaiologos VIII. She was married to the Mongolian Prince Abaka Khan and following her husband's death returned to Istanbul and became a member of a religious order. In this section, under the dome there is Jesus and his ancestors are shown in the segments. On the portal of the church proper, there is Christ in the middle and on the left Theodoros Metochites who has restored the church and adorned it with the mosaics presenting a model of the church.

The life story of Mary, which is not included in the Bible is taken from subjects based on the Apostles. At the inner narthex the scenes about Mary can be followed depicting her birth, her first steps, Gabriel telling her that she shall have a child, Mary buying wool for the tebernacle and others. Mosaic above the inner portal of the entrance to the main church depicts the death of the Virgin, Madonna bearing the child Jesus and a Saint. Parekklesion is totally decorated with frescoes. The Anastasia (rebirth) scene seen on the abscissa is a masterpiece. The last judgement above it is shown here in full. It is known that the niche on the right and left sides of the Parekklesion are graves. On the dome of the Parekklesion there is Mary and the child Jesus and 12 in the segments.

Dolmabahçe Palace

Until XVII. Century this site was one of the coves in the Bosporus. In mythology it is the place where the Argonauts' legendary ship 'argo' had anchored in order to find the Golden Pelt, and in history, Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror had beached his ships again in this cove to cross over to the Golden Horn during the conquest of Istanbul.

This cove was a natural harbour where the Ottoman Admirals anchored the naval fleet, and was the location where the traditional maritime ceremonies had taken place. Beginning from the XVII. Century onwards, the cove started to be filled up from time to time, and became one of the unique gardens of the Bosporus called Dolmabahce (Filled up Garden).

Through out the history, Dolmabahce was developed by villas and pavilions built by various Sultans, and in the course of time, took the appearance of a palace called 'Besiktas Waterside Palace'. During the reign of Sultan Abdulmedjid, on the grounds of being made out of timber and hence being useless, the demolition of the Besiktas Waterside Palace started in 1843, and the foundation of today's Dolmabahce Palace began in its place.

Together with the perimeter walls, the construction was completed in 1856. Dolmabahce Palace, built on a site of over 110.000 square metres, is consisted of sixteen separate sections besides the main structure. Those sections are the buildings with different functions, such as palace stables, mills, pharmacies, kitchens, aviaries, the glass shop, the foundry and the patisserie shop. During the reign of Sultan Abdulhamid II. (1876 - 1909), the clock tower and the lodges in the rear garden of the Heir Apparent's apartment were added.

The palace was constructed by the most important Ottoman architects of the period Karabet and Nikogos Balyan. The main block of the palace is composed of three sections: the Mabeyn-i Humayun (Selamlik), the Muayede (Ceremonial Hall) and the Harem-i Humayun (Harem). The Mabeyn-i Humayun is where state affairs take place, Harem-i Humayun is the private section of Sultan and his family, and in the centre, Muayede is the hall where Sultan received guest of honours and official ceremonies took place.

Dolmabahce Palace, including the basement floor, is a three - storey structure. Despite of the distinct western influence apparent in form, detail and ornamentation, the building is a work of Ottoman architects' masterly interpretation of these impressions. On the other hand, the plan arrangement is an adaptation of the traditional Turkish house in a grandeur scale, constructed with stone external walls, brick internal walls and timber floors. Being open to the technology of its period, the Palace received its central heating and electrical systems during the years 1910 - 1912. In the Palace, there are 285 rooms, 46 halls, 6 Hamams (Turkish baths) and 68 toilets, totalling 45.000 square metres of used floor area. Fine parquetry floors are covered by 4.454 square metres of carpets that were, at first woven in the Palace's loom house, and then, in Hereke, which was famous with its carpets.

Mabeyn, where the Sultan carries out the state affairs, regarding its function and splendour, is the most prominent section of the building. The Medhal (entrance) Hall in the entry; the Crystal Stairs leading to upper floor; the Sufera (ambassadors) Hall, the guest room for the ambassadors and the Red Room where Sultan received the ambassadors are all decorated and furnished to emphasize the historical splendour of the Empire. In the upper floor, the Zulvecheyn (two planed) Hall allows a crossing to the Sultan's private living quarters in the Mabeyn section. In these quarters, apart from the study rooms and halls, there is a magnificent Hamam furnished with marbles from Egypt.

Situated between Harem and Mabeyn, the Muayede (celebration) Hall is the highest and the most magnificent section of Dolmabahce Palace. Consisiting of over 2000 square metres, with 56 columns, this hall is distinguished from other part of the Palace with its 36 m high dome and with a 4.5 tonne chandelier made in Britain. The hall is heated by a central heating system blowing warm air from the feet of the columns, providing a comfortable temperature even in the coldest days. During the traditional holy days and celebrations, the golden throne used to be brought in to the hall and Sultan received notables and diplomatic corps on this throne. The galleries had been allotted to diplomatic staff, male and female guests and to the Palace orchestra.

Despite being built by taking European palaces as an example and being influenced by western architecture, in Dolmabahce, the Harem was designed as a separate section, although not rigid as it used to be in terms of functional relations and space arrangements. It is not a building or a compound separated from the Palace, as it is the case in Topkapi Palace, but a private living space integrated to the rest of the structure under the same roof.

The Harem section makes up the two thirds of Dolmabahce Palace. Passage from the Mabeyn and the Muayede Hall to the Harem is made through the corridors with iron gates and heavy timber doors, a remark of the traditional segregation. The spacious halls lightened by the reflections of the Bosporus, the bedrooms of Sultans, his wives, concubines, sons and daughters, and the study and lounge rooms are all in this section. The apartment of the Valide Sultan (Mother Sultan), the Blue and Pink Halls, the rooms of Sultans Abdulmedjid, Abdulaziz and Resad, the concubines section, the matrons' rooms, the Great Ataturk's study and bedroom and many valuable artifacts such as furnitures, rugs and kilims, inscriptions, vases, chandeliers, oil paintings are the most interesting and impressive features of the Harem.

Today, all sections and units of Dolmabahce Palace are restored and opened to visitors. Main exhibition units of Dolmabahce Palace are: two 'Precious Items Exhibition Halls', where the precious items of the palace are exhibited, the 'Internal Treasury Exhibition Building' where samples from the National Palaces Yildiz (Star) Porcelain collection are displayed, the 'Art Gallery' where parts of the National Palaces Painting collection are usually exhibited in this gallery over long periods of time, the 'Abdulmedjid Efendi Library' in Mabeyn section of the Palace, and the 'Historical Corridor' under the 'Art Gallery' which is a permanent exhibition of a collection of bird motifs from architectural ornamentations and various palace items and objects.

The old 'Furnishing Department' at the entrance of the Palace is now the 'Cultural Information Centre'. Scientific studies and presentation activities taking place in various National Palaces are directed from this centre. There is also a reference library in the service of scholars, which consist of mostly the XIX. Century publishings.

In the gardens of Clock Tower, the Furnishing Department, Aviary, Harem and Heir Apparent's apartment sections, cafeterias and gift shops are present for the service of the visitors. Introductory books about National Palaces prepared by the Cultural Information Centre, various postcards, reproductions of the paintings from the National Palaces Art collection are on sale in these shops. At the same time, Muayede Hall and the gardens are allotted to national and international receptions. With these new arrangements, the Palace, today, has been acquired of the museum sections and, of artistic and cultural activities.

Fethiye Museum (Pammakaristos)

It is in Fatih - Carsamba quarter of Istanbul. It is Pammakaristos monastery church constructed in Byzantine Period. A grave chapel has been added with the end of the Latin invasion in 13th century.
After the conquest, it remained under the control of Christians and used as a women's monastery, in 1455 patriarchate has been moved to this building and the building has been used as patriarchate until 1586.

This church has been converted into a mosque by Murat III (1574 - 1595) and the mosque has been named as Fethiye.

The northern church is still being used as a mosque. The walls of the additional church are ornamented with the beautiful mosaics of 14th century. After being repaired between the years 1938 - 1940, it has been converted into a unit of Ayasofya Museum.