Gönderen Konu: İstanbul’s 10 most overlooked tourist sites  (Okunma sayısı 2822 defa)

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İstanbul’s 10 most overlooked tourist sites
« : 05 Ağustos 2007, 12:13:07 »

With the almost overwhelming number of monuments and museums that can be found in İstanbul, it’s easy to miss quite a few.

Most tours cover just the major sites, but that is just beginning to scratch the surface of the city. While the main tourist sights are definite must-sees, the following are just a few of the many overlooked places that are also an important part of the history of İstanbul. Since most of these are off the main tourist radar, they are far less crowded and offer a more relaxed atmosphere in which to discover the past.

1. Rüstem Paşa Mosque: This small mosque, built in 1561, is a welcome respite from the frenetic pace of the Spice Bazaar (Mısır Çarşısı). Designed by Ottoman master architect Sinan for Sultan Süleyman’s son-in-law and grand vizier, Rüstem Paşa, this mosque is known for its fantastic array of İznik tiles, each a work of art in itself. Almost every available surface is covered with these precious ceramics. As this is a functioning mosque, it is open daily, but tourists should remember to be respectful during prayer times. Open daily until after the late evening prayers. Address: Hasıcılar Cad., Eminönü.

2. Princes’ Islands (Kızıl Adalar): Just a 45-minute ferry ride from the city, the Princes’ Islands offer a welcome change of pace from the hustle and bustle of urban life. Byzantine Emperor Justin II was the first to build a palace on Prinkipo (the Greek word for prince), in A.D. 569. These days it is known as Büyükada, the largest of the four reachable islands famous for their horse-drawn carriages (fayton), as all vehicles are forbidden, except those in the service of the municipality. During the Byzantine era the islands were home to many monasteries, where exiles were often sent. In the second half of the 19th century, the introduction of steamboats made access easier and, as a result, wealthy families began to settle there. Today they are popular destinations for day trips to escape the heat of the city, as locals come to relax in the pine forests and play along the beaches. The easiest way to get there is by ferry from Kabataş, Kadıköy or Bostancı.

3. Süleymaniye Mosque: Dominating the İstanbul skyline, the Süleymaniye Mosque complex, funded by Sultan Süleyman I, is master architect Sinan’s crowning monument for the city. Built on the ruins of a long abandoned, burnt-out palace, construction began in 1550 and took seven years. The largest mosque in the city, when it was finished the complex included a soup kitchen, a guesthouse, a hospital, a Turkish bath (hamam) and a college in addition to the mosque itself. The result of Sinan’s efforts is a mosque that is breathtaking in size, and one that has near perfect acoustics. There are four massive support columns, one from Baalbek, one from Alexandria and two from derelict Byzantine palaces in İstanbul. In the southeast corner of the complex are the tombs of Süleyman and his wife Hürrem Sultan (known as Roxelana in the West). Open daily until after the last prayers. Address: Şifhane Cad., Süleymaniye.

 4. Yedikule: Yedikule, or the Castle of Seven Towers, was never used as a royal residence, but rather, two of the towers were used to house foreign envoys who fell out of favor with Ottoman rulers. The original towers were built as part of the Theodosian walls in A.D. 390, and three other towers were later added by Mehmet the Conqueror. Many prisoners confined to the fortress lost hope of ever regaining their freedom and scratched last messages into the walls of their cells. Heads of executed prisoners were thrown into a small well, and eventually washed out to sea. The top of the walls offer one of the best views to be found in İstanbul. It’s advisable to bring along a flashlight, as the lighting in the tower stairwells is sporadic, but it is definitely worth the climb. Open Tuesday through to Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Address: Yedikule Meydani Sok., Yedikule.

5. Sanberk Hanım Museum: The Sanberk Hanım was the first private museum to open in Turkey in 1981. Consisting of two large wooden houses on the shores of the Bosporus, the larger building is the former summer house of the Koç family, built in 1911. On display are ethnographical items from Turkey collected by the wife of industrialist Vehbi Koç, Sanberk Hanım. Adjacent to the Koç house is the second building in the museum, the Sevgi Gönül Wing. Dating from the 20th century, the building houses the archeological collection of Hüseyin Kocabaş. This collection includes relics from the Neolithic period through to the Ottoman era. The museum is open Thursday through to Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Address: Piyasa Cad. No. 27-29, Büyükdere.

6. Mosaic Museum: The Great Palace of the Byzantine emperors consisted of hundreds of rooms, many decorated with gold mosaics. The museum is situated on the site of the ancient palace, and the vast floor mosaic is thought to have been in the colonnade between the royal apartments and the imperial enclosure next to the Hippodrome. Dating from the fifth century, this is a fascinating peek into the lives and homes of the royals. Open Tuesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Address: Arasta Çarşısı, Sultanahmet.

7. Archeological Museum: Housing one of the world’s best collections of antiquities, the museum includes excellent displays of classical and pre-classical treasures. The building itself was constructed by Osman Hamdi Bey (1881-1910) to house his archeological finds, including sarcophagi from Sidon. The new four-story wing opened in 1991 and features exhibits on the history and archeology of İstanbul and surrounding areas, as well as a children’s museum. Within the complex is the Çinili Pavilion, with a tiled mihrab -- a niche in the wall indicating the direction of Mecca, faced during Muslim prayer -- from Central Anatolia dominating the scene, and which also contains a collection of İznik and Kütahya ceramics. The Museum of the Ancient Orient features rare and priceless relics from the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Hittite, as well as from Mesopotamia. The Ishtar Gate dates from 605-562 B.C., during the rule of Nebuchadnezzar II in Babylon. The museum is open Tuesday through to Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Address: Osman Hamdi Bey Yokuşu, Gülhane.

8. Yıldız Park and Palace: Originally part of the grounds of the Çırağan Palace, the garden was later incorporated into the plans of Yıldız Palace, a collection of pavilions and villas built in the 19th and 20th centuries. Spread across the hillside above Ilhamur-Yıldız Boulevard, the palace was at one time the principal residence of Sultan Abdülhamit II (1876-1909). The main building, the State Apartments, date from Sultan Selim III (1789-1807). A casual stroll through the grounds reveals lovely pavilions as well as changing exhibits. Open Tuesday through to Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Address: Çırağan Cad., Beşiktaş.

9. Sabancı Museum: Since 1884 the grounds of today’s Sabancı Museum have been both a private and royal residence. Opened as the Sabancı University Sakip Sabancı Museum in 2002, it now hosts world-class exhibitions in a state-of-the-art environment. The three ground floors have been preserved as they were when the Sabancı family resided there. The museum also boasts an impressive collection of rare manuscripts as well as an extensive collection of 19th and 20th century paintings. Open Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Address: Istinye Cad. No. 22, Emirgan.

10. Turkish and Islamic Art Museum: The former residence of İbrahim Paşa (1493-1536), grand vizier to Sultan Süleyman, the museum hosts a collection dating from the Omayyad Caliphate (661-750) until the present day. With detailed explanations in Turkish and English, each room concentrates on a particular era or region of the Islamic world. Famous worldwide for its collection of rugs, the museum also boasts 13th century Seljuk textiles, while silk Persian carpets hang on display in the great hall of the palace. The ground floor concentrates on the lifestyle of Turkic people, including the nomads of eastern and central Anatolia. The museum is open Tuesday through to Sunday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Address: Atmeydani Sok., Sultanahmet

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