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Wednesday, January 24, 2007
The Amazing Adventures of Kayla in Istanbul IV
Part Four
(as in Day 3)

Unlike other people who partied late on New Year's Eve, we went to bed quite early, as we had a pretty good reason to do so. A new day of visiting and too much to see to oversleep. Therefore we started early again, at about 9 am. We took the tram to Eminonu and from there, we took the boat to Uskudar.
Taking the boat was quite a thrill, seeing the great views of Galata tower and Dolmabahce palace, seeing the sea waves on a sunny morning and Kiz Kulesi when approaching Uskudar.

More photos of the boat ride here.


This is a district on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus, with narrow streets lined with wooden houses, which has managed to preserve some authentic oriental character. There are a number of hans, baths, medreses, mosques, fountains and turbes lending to this effect.

The Greeks called Uskudar Chrysopolis, and it was known as the port of Chalcedon (Kadikoy neighborhood today), a very well known town. Xenephon passed through here with an army of 10,000 in the fourth century BC and in 324 AD, Constantine I defeated his rival Licinius here. The distric became independent. It was subsequently sacked twice during the Arab and Persian sieges of Istanbul in the 7 and 8 centuries. During the Turkish period, it became an important center of trade. It was the end of the Anatolian trade route and the start of the yearly pilgrimage to Mecca. With the construction of the Baghdad Railway, Uskudar gradually lost its importance.
The narrow streets are also on hills. So be prepared for a tiring walk around the neighborhood if you want a first hand experience of the Oriental street building style.

Kiz Kulesi (Leander's Tower/Maiden Tower)

This ancient tower stands on a rocky outcrop at the entrance of the Bosphorus, just offshore Uskudar. It is presently used as a lighthouse and it also includes a restaurant.

The original tower was built in the 12th century by the Byzantine emperor Manuel Comnenos (1143-1180), who aimed to find a firm foundation for the chain which was used to close off the Bosphorus to sea traffic.

There are countless legends about the tower. The best-known of which is that of Constanine's daughter, said to be extremely beautiful. According to the legend, a fortune teller told the emperor his daughter would be bitten by a snake and die. The emperor built a tower in the sea and shut his daughter in it to save her. One day a snake that hid in a basked of grapes sent to the princess bit her and she died, thus the prophecy being fulfilled. This legend gave the tower its popular name, kiz kulesi - maiden's tower.

For all of you going to visit the tower, on weekend and some holidays (such as January 1st) the boat taking you there is not working until 12.3o. If you get there earlier, you can stay on the pillows on the shore and have some tea (cay) or some Turkish coffee. Still, don't get there too early, the cold might just get to you on winter days.

While talking to Vali and Ana, I realized that I had been there the year before, on the very same day. They said I should turn it into a tradition. May all first days of all new years find me there, in the tower. This time I won't wait to get there so long, as I know the proper schedule!

Back in Eminonu, we first had lunch as we were all starving. Sis kebab, pepper kebab, ayran, all of it quite delicious. We then visited some of the interesting sight of the area.

More photos of Uskudar here.

The Yeni (New) Mosque

This is the last of the great classical mosque complexes in Istanbul. It was built near one of Istanbul's major quays in Eminonu. Also known as the Valide Mosque, its title as "Yeni" or "New" mosque was used as a convention in accounts of every period to describe the latest mosque built. The only mosque to preserve the title was the Valide mosque.

The construction was started by the architect Davut Aga, for the dowager sultan Safiye Sultan, Mehmet III's mother. On the death of the architect and that of Mehmet III, Safiye Sultan fell from favor and was sent to the old palace. The construction was then stopped. There was a long hiatus in the building of the mosque, which had hardly risen above foundation level.

In 1660, the dowager sultan of the time, Turhan Sultan, saw the unfinished mosque during a visit to the district which had nearly been destroyed by fire. She then decided to finish the building and commissioned the architect Mustafa Aga to do so. Next to the mosque he constructed the renowned spice market and a splendid fountain and refreshment kiosk, together with the mausoleum of Turhan Sultan and other buildings which have since been demolished.
The mosque was built over the raised foundations and has two minarets, each with three galleries. The mosque follows the basic plan of Sultanahmet and Sehzade mosques, wich a central dome flanked by four supporting semi-domes. The main dome is 17.5 meters in diameter and 36 meters in height. Although classical in style, the proportions of the building are somehow distorted, the dome appearing a little more pointed than the other mosques. The faience decoration of the mosque is notably fine.

The Spice Market (Misir Carsisi)

This is Istanbul's second covered market. The present structure was built by Harice Turhan Sultan. According to the documents, the building was begun by the architect Kasim Aga, and completed together with Yeni mosque by the architect Mustafa Aga in 1660. The present structure was last restored in 1943, when the raised wooden counters of the old shops were removed and replaced by modern shop fronts. Apart from six spice shops, the present market has lost its originality.

More photos of Eminonu here.

We decided to walk back to the street sellers near Sultanahmet. We bought our souvenirs and said good-bye to the historical center.


It was back to the hotel, to pack our bags, get some more ayran and kaymak for home, some helva and other sweets. But it was right here, with the sun setting, that I knew I would deeply miss Istanbul until my next visit.

Tags: Tourism, Travel Destinations, Turkey, Istanbul, Uskudar, Kiz Kulesi, Eminonu, New Mosque, Spice Market, Sultanahmet.
posted by Alina @ 3:39 PM  
  • At 1/25/2007 12:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    Awesome pictures.

    PS: I stole the last picture =D

  • At 1/25/2007 12:50 AM, Blogger Alina said…

    Thanks. It's ok, as you said where it's from :) Anyway, I am currently using it as my desktop background. It is also my favorite.

  • At 1/25/2007 9:24 AM, Anonymous the olive ream said…

    Alina, absolutely beautiful images. Loved this post! I vacationed in Istambul a few years back and I truly fell in love with the city. I cannot believe that so much history is crammed into this city.

    As always, a pleasure to read your blog.

    By the way, I've relaunched my blog (the olive ream) with a new domain. Please change the address you have of my link. And come visit my new blog...lots of new sections and things to see.


  • At 1/25/2007 10:06 AM, Blogger Alina said…

    Omer, thank you for your nice words. I have already visited your new blog and commented a little on the new aspect :P I will also change the link as soon as possible.

  • At 1/26/2007 2:26 PM, Blogger Cristina Banu said…

    Wow, great pictures and stories. Also quite long post :) Keep it up Alina!

  • At 1/26/2007 4:25 PM, Blogger Alina said…

    Too long for you, Cris? Sorry, lots of places to write about :P

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Name: Alina
Home: Bucharest, Bucharest, Romania
About Me: "This is my church. This is where I heal my hurts". It's also where I feel free and my preferred means of expression.
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