11 November 2016

Istanbul Photowalk: Yedikule and Samatya

A couple weeks ago M and I went on another great photowalk with the Istanbul Language Exchange Club. It was unfortunately a very overcast day but that did not stop our enjoyment!

Ruins of a Byzantine hamam


I was particularly excited about this walk because, while I've driven by Yedikule a million times I've never actually been. Built in 1458, Yedikule, which means 'seven towers' in Turkish, takes up a corner of the old Byzantine wall and was used as a fortress, prison, and site of frequent executions. Now it's a park. It's totally where you want to have a picnic.


While bits and pieces of the fort have been restored, like much of the old wall, you can still see some of the original Greek inscriptions and Roman carvings. Near the fortress there is one city gate in particular through which only Roman soldiers were allowed to pass.

From Yedikule, which is near the Bosphorus, we walked farther inland roving through the small, mostly residential streets on our way to Samatya. Like a lot of Istanbul, the houses are a mix of collapsing buildings that were probably at one time amazing and ugly block buildings with the occasional hidden gem tucked away.

Samatya was a lot like those occasional gems-a small, charming neighborhood tucked into a grey, dirty big city. With colorful buildings, lively squares, relaxing cafes, and some of the city's best fish restaurants this neighborhood is worth the trouble of deeper exploration.

As we made our way towards Aksaray we stopped in one of the (surprisingly) many Armenian churches. This one, hidden in a courtyard behind high walls like most of Istanbul's Christian churches, used to be the Armenian Patriarchate. At first our group wasn't even allowed through the gate-we were told that we would scare the children (?!) but they changed their minds and allowed us in. Then after giving us permission to take pictures we were kicked out for taking pictures.

The Sultan's box up on the left

After a less than successful visit there we headed to one of Istanbul's Imperial Mosques which was a much friendlier place. Sadly somehow every single one of the pictures I took inside is blurry. They look like I was snapping the picture and spinning in circles at the same time.

Our last stop was another mosque. Not an imperial mosque this time, a brand new one-so new even that it's still not open. I have never seen a modern mosque like this one and while I think Istanbul has a few too many already, this one is a piece of modern architectural art that I wish were in a more easily accessible part of the city so that more people could appreciate it.

So another great walk during which we got to explore parts of the city we would otherwise never have seen!

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