1 Temmuz 2014 Salı

We Have Moved

Dear Tracers of Istanbul,

We made an announcement a few weeks back: 

Our blog has been moved. You can now reach our entries from www.istanbulyolculari.com/en/

Remember, you can read new entries every week.

Take care,

The Istanbul Tracer

8 Haziran 2014 Pazar

Blue Mosque with Six Minarets

Sultan Ahmet Mosque - Fatih

Following Sultan Ahmet I’s order, Sultan Ahmet Mosque was built by architect Sedefkar Mehmet Aga, pupil of famous Architect Sinan.  The land that the mosque stands on today was expropriated through paying large sums to Pashas whose villas stood on the way. 

The sixth ‘selatin’ mosque of the city, Sultan Ahmet I himself swung the first pickaxe blow symbolizing the start of the construction, and this pickaxe is still in Topkapı Museum. Built in the 17th century, the mosque has been appropriately nicknamed “Blue Mosque” for being decorated with more than twenty thousand pieces of porcelain, mostly in shades of blue.  

One of the most unique features the mosque holds is its six minarets. While Mecca Mosque was the only other mosque with six minarets in the world, after the completion of Sultan Ahmet, another minaret was added to Mecca Mosque.

Sultan Ahmet I’s mausoleum can be found in the graveyard in the mosque’s grounds. You can find 3D visuals of the mosque here.

The easiest route reach Sultan Ahmet Mosque would be to take either the ferry, bus or Marmaray to Karakoy, Eminonu or Sirkeci and then take to tram from here. 

Take care of yourselves,
Tracer of Istanbul

6 Haziran 2014 Cuma

From Port to Emperor’s Palace

Dolmabahce Palace - Besiktas

Where Dolmabahce Palace stands today was once a port that later turned into a swamp and then filled in  the 17th century. The palace was ordered to be built by Sultan Abdulmecit, its architects were Garabet and Nigogos Balyan, and the construction started in 1843 and ended in 1856. The palace is known for its aesthetically pleasing details and it attracts tens of thousands of tourists each year.

With the completion of the construction, the former headquarters of the empire Topkapi Palace was abandoned (You can read our entry on Topkapi Palace here)

Once again taking pictures are not allowed inside the palace, so instead you can click here to view photos of the palace.

Dolmabahce houses world’s largest ballroom, and the crystal chandelier in this room weighs 4.5 tons. Radiators were added and electricity was connected to the Palace in 1910. The palace is famous for being the spot Sultan Vahdettin boarded the ship that took him away from the Ottoman Empire, and that it was where Mustafa Kemal Ataturk passed away. As Ataturk passed away at 09.05, the clocks in the palace permanently stay at this hour. 

Another important landmark, Dolmabahce Clock Tower stands in between Dolmabahce Palace and Bezmi Alem Valide Sultan Mosque. Ordered to be built by Sultan Abdulhamit II, this clock is the most famous clock tower in the city.

To get to Dolmabahce Palace, just head towards Kabatas from Besiktas and the palace will be on your left. 

Take care of yourselves,
Tracer of Istanbul

28 Mayıs 2014 Çarşamba

Eying the Vault

The Ottoman Bank Building - Karakoy 

Transformed into Salt Galata art gallery a few years back, if you still haven’t been to the Ottoman Bank’s building on Karakoy’s Bankalar Caddesi (Banks Avenue) we recommend you do it soon.

 As a part of the gallery, the museum on the lower floor depicts the history of the Ottoman Bank from its start to the end. The museum is unique in housing vaults made by the era’s famous vault-maker Sameul Chatwood. The best part is that visitors get to go inside these vaults and view old Ottoman bills. You can find more information on the museum from here.

 Salt Galata quickly became famous for its temporary exhibitions in contemporary art and we recommend you go pay a visit. The building also houses a restaurant, bookstore and a library. Even the restrooms are result of special design. You can find more details about Salt Galata through this link.

Architect Alexandre Valluary’s design, the building’s construction ended in 1892. While the Ottoman Bank moved to this building from another location, we are choosing to keep this former location a secret for now. We promise that a new post on this topic will come later, and we promise it will be good! Here is a little preview.

Take care of yourselves,
Tracer of Istanbul

23 Mayıs 2014 Cuma

Islamic Inventors in Istanbul

Museum of the History of Science and Technology in Islam - Gulhane

Museum of the History of Science and Technology in Islam is situated at Has Barns near Topkapi Palace’s wall. Relatively new, the museum opened its gates in 2008.

The museum’s biggest collection consists of replicas based on works done in medicine, astronomy, physics, chemistry and geography fields. The founder of the museum Prof. Dr. Fuat Sezgin is known for founding an even larger museum of like in Frankfurt in 1980s.  Museum of the History of Science and Technology in Islam is the result of the Professor’s, Culture Ministry’s, the Governor’s and Istanbul Municipality’s joint initiative.

The museum shines a light on the way in which the Islamic world has contributed to different fields through out history by making discoveries and inventing technologies. The replicas that the museum houses are based on books, illustrations, and projects written and drawn by these scholars. You can get more information about this museum through this link.

To get to Museum of the History of Science and Technology in Islam just take either the Hagia Sophia Museum or the Sarayburnu entrance to Gulhane Park. 

Take care of yourselves,
Tracer of Istanbul

16 Mayıs 2014 Cuma

From Suleiman the Magnificent for his Father

Yavuz Sultan Selim Mosque - Fatih

This week we bring you Yavuz Sultan Selim (Selim I) Mosque that Suleiman the Magnificent had it be made for his father.  This mosque is one of the seven “selatin” mosques that were built on the seven hills of Istanbul, and it is on the fifth hill.

Completed in 1529, the architect of the mosque is Acem Ali.  A special shroud from Mecca hangs on the wall facing qibla. Built as a an Ottoman social complex, the mosque grounds additionally housed a mausoleum part, an elementary school and a poorhouse, unfortunately the poorhouse did not make it to modern times. Alongside Yavuz Sultan Selim’s mausoleum, the graves of many famous historical figures reside here: Hanim Sultan’s, Hatice Sultan’s, Hafsa Sultan’s, Sultan Abdulmecit’s and even mausoleums of princes. Another interesting detail on the grounds is the entrance to a cistern through the mosque’s garden. To get more information on the mosque and do a 3D tour click here.

Behind the mosque lays a park that once was used as a cistern. The cistern was built during Byzantine times through the excavation of the ground and covering around the hole with bricks; basically building an underground room The name of the cistern, Aspar Cistern, came from the famous ethnically Goth Byzantine general Aspar and the cistern was built around 450 A.D. Ottomans used the cistern as a vegetable garden and named it Cukurbostan (holegarden). To this day this neighborhood is known as Cukurbostan. You can check out the modern usage of this historical site from here and perhaps try to reimagine what it once used to be.

And if you are wondering about how to get to Yavuz Sultan Selim Mosque, it is located in Fener neighbourhood of Fatih, on the left side of Tabakyunus street. We would also like to remind you that if you choose to reach the Mosque by the shore route you will have to walk up a quite steep hill. 
Take care of yourselves,
Tracer of Istanbul

7 Mayıs 2014 Çarşamba

An Istanbul Nostalgia

Tunel - Beyoglu

Walking down Yuksek Kaldirim hill from the center of social life in 1870s Pera to the heart of finance and commerce Bankalar Caddesi was perhaps easy, but climbing up was an effort. For this reason the French engineer Eugene Henri Gavand designed an elevator inspired railway project “Tunel” (tunnel) and got Sultan Abdulaziz’s permit to build and operate the funicular system for 42 years.

Opened on January 17th, 1875, Tunel is the second oldest metro in the world after the London metro system. The first cars used were open-top, and lack of electricity meant the usage of gas lamps through out the system.

To get to Tunel you can either enter through Beyoglu Tunel square or Karakoy IETT (Istanbul Electricity, Tramway and Tunnel General Management) Building. You can get more information on the Tunel metro here.

It is astonishing that we still get to experience one of the most pleasant journeys available in the city today, and moreover that the metro itself still connects Beyoglu’s social life and Karakoy’s commerce as it did in 1870s. 

Take care of yourselves,
Tracer of Istanbul