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Istanbul/Sultanahmet-Old City

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The Old City of Istanbul (Turkish: Eski İstanbul, also Tarihi Yarımada and Suriçi, “Historical Peninsula”, and “Walled City” respectively) is the oldest part of Istanbul, and the location of most of its historical sights.

Understand

Topkapı Palace as seen from across Bosphorus

Being a peninsula bounded by bodies of water to north, east, and south (the Golden Horn, Bosphorus, and the Sea of Marmara, respectively) and by the old city walls to west, this part of the city is essentially what used to be called Constantinople, as the rest of what is today Istanbul was part of independent cities, towns, villages, fields or even complete wilderness later absorbed by the city. This process is still going on as Istanbul grows with increasing speed.

Istanbul, or Byzantium as it was called then, was first settled by Greek colonists from Megara in Greek mainland in 667 BC. They founded their city at Seraglio Point (Sarayburnu) which is now occupied by Topkapı Palace. However, recent discoveries in a subway construction site in Yenikapı (on the southern coast of the peninsula) dates the very first date of Istanbul's settlement back to about 8000 years ago, which makes the city one of the oldest still-inhabited spots of the world. This peninsula was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985.

Get in

Being one of the most central parts of the city, getting to the Old City by public transport is easy. The waterfront often hosts cruise ships, providing passengers (not on tours) with easy, self-arranged access to sights and shopping.

By tram

A modern tram line lies all along the old city, connecting it with Galata and other places north, and the suburbs in the west. Tram stations are located at Eminönü, Sirkeci, Gülhane, Sultanahmet, Beyazıt, and Aksaray among others.

With the cancellation of public bus line T4 between Taksim and Sultanahmet, easiest way to get to the old city from Taksim by public transport now is to take the funicular from inside the metro station at Taksim Square and then transfer on to tram at Kabataş station.

By metro

A metro/light rail line connects Atatürk International Airport and the main bus station (otogar) outside the city with Aksaray. From Aksaray, you can take the tram (follow the ‘tramvay’ signs) for places deeper into the Old City (such as Sultanahmet). If you are approaching from the airport, you can also change from metro to tram in Zeytinburnu. Changing at Zeytinburnu is better than changing at Aksaray, as the metro and tram stations in Zeytinburnu are much nearer to each other (making it highly unlikely to get lost!) and it’s the first station along the line, which means you can easily secure a seat after your long flight.

By bus

Public buses connect various spots in the old city with various other places. For the traveller, the most useful lines are as follows:

  • 61B Taksim – Beyazıt (very near the Grand Bazaar; also about 10-15 min walk or 3-4 min tram ride away from Sultanahmet)
  • 96T the bus from Atatürk Airport to Taksim also passes through some parts of old city. The stop nearest to Sultanahmet is Aksaray/Valide Sultan. From there, you can take the tram.
  • You can get on any bus which goes to Eminönü or Beyazıt since both places are very close to Sultanahmet, if you would like to go there. You can either walk (about 10-15 minutes) or take a tram from both places. However, there might be traffic at certain times.

By boat

Liners from Kadıköy and Üsküdar across the Bosphorus moor at Eminönü. There are also smaller private boats plying on the same routes. Another option is to take the boat from Üsküdar to Kabataş and take the tram.

If you are arriving in Istanbul by one of fast ferries from towns across on the southern and southeastern coast of Marmara, your likely point of entry to the city is Yenikapı on the southern shore of the peninsula.

By train

Trains from Europe and European Turkey have their terminii at Sirkeci station, which is located in this district. It's also possible to take the suburban trains (banliyö treni), which have about 30-min intervals and cost 1.50 TL pp, from Bakırköy and other coastal suburbs in the west to Sirkeci.

By taxi

In istanbul there are lot of yellow taxis and cab fares are not expensive. From Ataturk Airport (IST) to Sultanahmet is about ~18 km. and cab fare is ~30 TRY (~$17 USD, $1 = 1.85 TRY. See: [1]) Also from Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW) to Sultanahmet is about ~45 km. and cab fare is ~75 TRY (~$40 USD, $1=1.85 TRY. See: [2])

Get around

By tram

The tram line connects almost all of the sights frequented by travellers.

On foot

Most of the sights in the old city are close enough to be negotiated on foot, as they are located in or around Sultanahmet Square. For many others, just follow the tram line. However, between Eminönü/Sirkeci and Sultanahmet, it is faster to to take the shortcut through Ankara Caddesi (Street) and stray away from the tramline as the tramline follows an arch through that part of the city.

The sidewalk along Hüdavendigar Caddesi between Sirkeci, Gülhane, and Sultanahmet Square is not very wide and trams pass along fairly close to the sidewalk, so watch your steps especially when you hear tram's horn.

See

Hagia Sofia
Inside Hagia Sofia
Sultanahmet a.k.a Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque, close-up
Basilica Cistern
Main footpath of Gülhane Park lined with plane trees

Many of Istanbul’s historical gems, mostly consisting of Byzantine and Ottoman-built monuments are in Old City. Most are located a short walk away from, if not immediately on the edges of, Sultanahmet Square. Some other sights are dispersed throughout the peninsula.

Around Sultanahmet Square

  • Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya), Sultanahmet Square (by tram: Sultanahmet), +90 212 522-17-50. Tu-Su 9AM-6PM. Dating from the sixth century, it was originally a basilica constructed for the Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I. A masterwork of Roman engineering, the huge 30 m diameter dome covers what was for over 1000 years the largest enclosed space in the world. The church was looted by the fourth Crusaders in 1204, and became a mosque in the 15th century when The Ottomans conquered the city. It was converted into a museum in 1935. Don't miss the excellent mosaics, including those in the gallery, reached by a stone ramp to the left of the entrance. As of January 2012, the overpriced entrance fee is 20 TL (credit cards & Turkish currency accepted) You can also hire a guide at the entrance of the museum. NOTE: As of Dec 2011, the museum consists of a few poster boards of pictures and a little information.
  • Topkapı Palace (Topkapı Sarayı) [3], Bab-i Hümayün Caddesi (by tram: Gülhane/Sultanahmet), +90 212 512-04-80. M,W-Su 9AM-5PM. The imperial enclave of the Ottoman emperors for four centuries. Lavishly decorated, with four courts of increasing grandeur. In the second court of the entrance to the Harem (admission extra, only by joining a guided tour) and the State Treasury, housing a weaponry display. The third court has the Imperial Treasury. Both Islamic and Christian relics, rugs, china. The views from the Fourth Court over the Bosphorus are spectacular. You can also see Prophet Mohammed's belongings. 20 TL (no concessions, credit cards and Turkish currency accepted. Harem 15 TL extra).

BEWARE Any bus or tram with a sign or indication that it heads for or calls at Topkapı will NOT take you anywhere near Topkapı Palace. Rather, it is going to a neighborhood named after the city gate near which it’s situated (“cannon gate”), which may be worth a trip to take a look at the impressive city walls. Topkapı neighborhood is located in the extreme western part of the old city, near the city walls, while Topkapı Palace is located in the extreme eastern part, which means the distance between each other is at least 7-8km. ‘Topkapı’ alone almost always refer to the neighborhood, not the palace. Taking a bus heading for Topkapı to go to the palace is a common mistake made by travelers. For the palace, the stop/station you should look for is 'Sultanahmet'.

  • Hagia Irene (Aya İrini), (on the grounds of Topkapı Palace). Hagia Irene, which you will notice to your left after entering the outer yard of Topkapı Palace, is one of few Byzantine-era cathedrals which was never converted to a mosque (though not used for religious purposes either during the Ottoman period), although access to the interior is not allowed unless you have a ticket to the classical music concerts sometimes taking place inside the building.
  • Sultanahmet Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii, aka Blue Mosque) [4], At Meydam Sokak 17, Sultanahmet (by tram: Sultanahmet), +90 212 518-13-19. May-Oct 9AM-9PM, Nov-Apr:9AM-7PM. With its six minarets and sweeping architecture the Sultanahmet or 'Blue' Mosque impresses from the outside. Unlike Haghia Sophia, this is still a working mosque, entry is through the courtyard on the SW side which is back side of mosque. No shorts or bare shoulders (shawls are provided) and you will need to remove your footwear (bags are provided that you can place your shoes in). Entrance is free, but donations are welcome upon exit.
  • Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnici). Yerebatan Cad., Sultanahmet [5], 9AM-6:30PM. A giant underground cistern built by Justinian in 532 to provide water to the city in cases of siege. A wooden walkway winds between the pillars, and lights and piped music add to the eerie atmosphere. Bring some type of fish food as you'll see enormous fish swimming below your feet. The statues of Medussa are impressive. 3 TL for Turkish citizens, 10 TL (no concessions. Turkish currency and credit cards accepted.).
  • Hippodrome, adjacent to the Basilica Cistern, Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. This was the center of Roman and Byzantine Constantinople, and is a great place to begin one's tour and to watch people. The building no longer stands, but the obelisks and sculptures that have been collected here since Theodosius' time in the fourth century remain. The four bronze horses in the facade of St. Marco in Venice used to be on top of the Emperor's box in the Hippodrome and they were looted by the crusaders in 1204. While you are on your way to the hippodrome, don’t forget to check out German Fountain (Alman Çeşmesi), a neo-Byzantine style fountain building at the square leading to Hippodrome. It was a gift sent by German Kaiser Wilhelm II to the Ottoman Sultan.
  • The Museum of Archeology (Arkeoloji Müzesi), Osman Hamdi Bey Yokuşu, Gülhane (tram: Gülhane; take the first right after entering Gülhane Park), +90 212 520-77-42, [6]. Tu-Su 9AM-5PM. Tickets stop being sold at 4PM. A must see! One of the best, including a great collection of Sumerian tablets, pieces of the wall of Babylon and Roman marble statues. The Alexander Sarcophagus, once believed to be the sarcophagus of Alexander the Great himself (but later found out to be not the case), which is very well preserved and highly adorned with bas-relief carvings of Alexander the Great is among the most famous pieces of ancient art displayed in the museum. 10 TL.
  • Great Palace Mosaics Museum (Büyük Saray Mozaikleri Müzesi), Arasta Çarşısı, Sultanahmet (just south of Blue Mosque), +90 212 518-12-05 (fax: +90 212 512-54-74), [7]. Tu-Su 9AM-4:30PM. Located in Arasta Bazaar, this museum hosts the pavement mosaics of the Byzantine-era Great Palace of Constantinople, which once occupied all the way from Sultanahmet Square, then the Hippodrome, to the coast of the Sea of Marmara.
  • Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art, (Sultanahmet). Carpets, rugs, calligraphy, pottery. With the same ticket, you can visit also the Ethnographic Museum downstairs where you can learn about the lifestyle of the Turks and their ancestors. 10 TL.
  • Million, (on the street with the tram line, close to the entrance of Basilica Cistern). While this partially intact marble pillar dating back to 4th century AD may seem unremarkable, it was the starting point of any distance measured within the empire during the Byzantine era, so it may be nice to think that you are in the centre of where all the roads lead to (or, rather, start from).
  • Gülhane Park (near Sultanahmet, and next door to Museum of Archaeology). This park was royal hunting grounds in the past. Today it’s a public park with lots of seasonal flowers, including huge patches of tulips in early April, and huge plane trees (platanus)—which means lots of shade as well. The high walls on one side of the park seperates it from Topkapı Palace. At one end of the park are a group of nice outdoor cafés—all of which basically serve the same drinks and snacks—with a view of Bosphorus, a view that is as charming as the view from the Palace situated right above. Those cafés sell tea by teapot (which equals to well over 5 glasses of tea), and a teapot of tea costs 6 TL, or 8 TL for two persons for which you will get a slightly bigger teapot (note that while tea in each teapot is enough for two persons, they only serve one glass if you order one-person-teapots which cost 6 TL). On your way to the cafés, don't forget to check out the Column of the Goths (Gotlar Sütunu), a Corinthian-style marble pillar dating back to Roman times, located just behind the entrances of cafés. It was erected in honour of victory over Goths of either Claudius II Gothicus (r. 268-270) or Constantine the Great (r. 306-337), and it likely is the oldest artifact dating back to Roman era that is still intact in the city and possibly predates foundation of Constantinople, with some badly deformed Latin inscriptions on its pedestal. Also near the café is the ruins of a monastery dating back to Byzantine times. The park has two gates, one near Sultanahmet (on the street between Sultanahmet Sq and Sirkeci, the street on which tram runs), and the other on the avenue lying on the coastline. To get to Sirkeci/Eminönü from the latter, turn left after exiting the park. Free.
  • Soğukçeşme Street (Soğukçeşme Sokağı), (between Hagia Sophia, Topkapı Palace, and the gate of Gülhane Park). A car-free downhill cobbled street just behind Hagia Sophia, with renovated (or totally re-built) traditional wooden houses two- or three-storeys tall typical of Ottoman era, leaning against the outer wall of Topkapı Palace grounds/Gülhane Park. Worth a look to see what typical streetscape of Istanbul was like before the concrete came over. While around there, don't forget to check out Fountain of Sultan Ahmed III, at the square in front of the outer gate of Topkapı Palace, a huge standalone fountain building built in typical Ottoman rococo style in 1728.

Elsewhere

Interior of Chora Church
Tower of Phanar Greek College
Valens Aqueduct as seen from southeast
Zeyrek Mosque with the three former churches making it up still distinguishable
  • Chora Church (Kariye Müzesi), Edirnekapı (near the city walls; bus: #87 from Taksim), +90 212 631-92-41 (fax: +90 212 621-34-35), [8]. Th-Tu 9AM-4:30PM. Also known as the Church of St Saviour in Chora (chora translates "countryside" in Byzantine Greek, which refers to what the site of the church exactly was when it was built), this is 1000 year old Byzantine church, an example of a church somewhat out of the traditional center, but is an absolute must see with precious mosaic frescoes and a captivating mood inside. The early church frescoes had been covered with plaster for nearly 500 years, as the building had been converted into a mosque, but were uncovered in the mid-twentieth century and have been partially restored. Mindblowing frescoes and mosaics now cover the entire inside of this church. An impressive section of Theodosian walls is right next to the church. 15 TL.
  • Patriarchate of Constantinople (Fener Rum Patrikhanesi), Sadrazam Ali Paşa Caddesi, Fener (between S. Ali Paşa Cd. and İncebel Sokağı; northwest of old city, close to Golden Horn shore), +90 212 531-96-70 (, fax: +90 212 534-90-37), [9]. 8.30AM-4PM. Arguably the centre of World Orthodoxy, housed since 1586 in Church of St George (Greek: Agíou Geōrgíou, Turkish: Aya Yorgi), which is, despite its religious importance, an otherwise unremarkable and unimpressive building from outside, though its lavishly decorated interior is worth a look. While you are around, don't forget to check out the Phanar Greek College (Fener Rum Lisesi) just next to the St George, which has an imposing tower made of red brick which seems to appear straight out of medieval times.
  • St Stephen Church (Sveti Stefan Kilisesi), Fener (on the southern shore of the Horn; close to waterfront, on the main avenue). A Bulgarian Orthodox church better known as Demir Kilise, i.e. "Iron Church", St Stephen is totally made of cast iron, a product of 19th century experimentation with prefabricated iron churches. This building combining neo-Gothic and neo-Baroque influences, has a richly ornamented exterior.
  • Süleymaniye Mosque (Süleymaniye Camii; about 15-20 min walk away from Beyazıt tram stop/Grand Bazaar, also same distance away from Eminönü, but you should walk uphill from there). On the top of a hill overlooking Golden Horn is a work of Sinan, an Ottoman architect of the 16th century. The mosque is a fine example of Ottoman architecture of the era, and inspired the architects of the Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet) which was built later. Comparing these two mosques, Süleymaniye is noted for its gloomier and more atmospheric feeling. Next to the courtyard of the mosque are tombs of Sinan himself, Sultan Suleiman the Magnicifent, and his Ukrainian spouse, Roxelana (known as Hürrem Sultan in Turkish). Free admission (both the mosque building itself and tombs in the courtyard). As of June 2010, the mosque is under construction with very little of the interior available to see. Currently, best seen from a distance.
  • Valens Aqueduct (Bozdoğan Kemeri), (over Atatürk Boulevard, north of Aksaray, south of Unkapanı). A double-storey Roman one built during the reign of Valens (r. 364-378) to provide the city with fresh water coming from the surrounding forests, this 921-metre long aqueduct spans the valley occupied by what is now Atatürk Boulevard (Atatürk Bulvarı), which lies in the very middle of the peninsula, connecting Aksaray with Unkapanı on the bank of Golden Horn and then Taksim Square, behind the opposite shore of Golden Horn. The aqueduct is one of the symbols of the city and it will likely welcome you to the city on your way from airport to hotel if you are going to stay around Taksim/Beyoğlu.
  • Yedikule Fortress (Yedikule Hisarı), (suburban train: Yedikule). This fortress in the very southwest of old city, next to the city walls was Porta Aurea, i.e. "Golden Gate" of Roman times, when it was main ceremonial entrance into the capital, used especially for the occasions of a triumphal entry of an emperor into the capital on the occasion of military victories. During Ottoman era, a fortress was built next to it ("the Fortress of Seven Towers", direct translation of its current Turkish name) and during late Ottoman period, it served as a state prison for high-level detainees like ambassadors or pashas.
  • Zeyrek Mosque (Turkish: Zeyrek Camii, also Molla Zeyrek Camii), Sinanağa Mah. İbadethane Sokak, Zeyrek (west of Atatürk Bulvarı/Unkapanı). Located in the neighbourhood of Zeyrek close to Fatih, Zeyrek Mosque is made by joining two former churches and a chapel all located next to each other. It represents the most typical example of architecture of the Byzantine middle period and is, after Hagia Sophia, the second largest religious edifice built by the Byzantines still extant in Istanbul. A really picturesque place, so prepare your camera! One word of caution, it is located in a somewhat rough neighbourhood, so better visited when there is still daylight. Free.
  • Old City Walls. The old city walls, which were built during the reign of Byzantine emperor Theodosius II (r. 408–450), and enclosing entire western boundary of the peninsula from Golden Horn to the coast of the Sea of Marmara, are mostly intact although partially dilapidated, suffering from unsightly restorations of early 1990s, and occasionally pierced by wide avenues into the old city. For a complete and detailed walking route along the walls, see "Theodosian Walls Walk" section of main Istanbul article. Those too lazy to do the entire route may check out easily accessible sections around Chora Church, Pazartekke station of T1 tram line, or Yedikule Fortress.

Do

  • Walk Along the Golden Horn Poke around forgotten corners just over this hauntingly beautiful inlet from the Bosphorus. You make some thrilling - and chilling - "finds" on cobbled streets as you trace its narrow alleyways and ancient squares. The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate housing a column which is believed to have been used for the binding and flogging of criminals in Jerusalem is here. The magnificent Neo-Gothic, Neo Baroque -well literally hand made doll house -St.Stephens Church is located on the western shores. The cascading domes and four slender minarets of the Imperial Suleymaniye Mosque dominating the skyline. One of Istanbul’s surviving mediaeval synagogues...and trendiest houses in town that are now enjoying their second or even third type of use. Highlight is the famous Chora the Byzantine marvel of mosaics and frescoes.


  • Istanbul Free Tour (German Fountain), [10]. Explore Istanbul by Free Walking and Bike tours. English-speaking Join our young volunteers - guides for a walk on the centuries old streets of the Old Town. They will tell you many tales about people and city and you will learn very important things of the history by very fun way. They like to have fun while doing so. Just sit on a bike and see Istanbul by the eyes of local. Our volunteers - guides are happy to show you the less discovered areas in Istanbul, where tourist usually never go.

Hamams

Most of Istanbul's historical Turkish baths, known as hamam and are quite an inevitable part of any Istanbul experience, are located in Old City around Sultanahmet.

  • Çemberlitaş Hamamı, +90 212-5112535 (), [11]. The Cemberlitas Bath is on Cemberlitas Square in the midst of some of Istanbul's greatest monuments. It was also built by architect Sinan in 1584. It has 2 sections, female and male. Entry €18, 39 TL for self-service, 59 for Turkish massage, 99 for Turkish massage and oil massage).
  • Cağaloğlu Hamamı, +90 212-5222424 (), [12]. The Cağaloğlu hamam was constructed in 1741 and is the last hamam to be built after a long period during the Ottoman Empire. It was constructed in İstanbul Eminönü. It is three blocks from the Hagia Sophia. It has separated sections. Popular and normally visited by tourists. You can get a "service" which mean one of the staff helps you get scrubbing, and the most expensive option contain scrubbing and massage. The payment is done before, but if choose not to take massage, don’t be surprise if one of the stuff member will secretly offer you one, letting you deicide how much to add to his tip. It should be said that the atmosphere is very touristic, and everything has a price. Once you are done, they give you a souvenir; a pair of underwear and a comb. Self-service €20, scrubbing €23, massage €30, self-service, scrubbing, and massage €40, and luxury service €45. Credit cards not accepted.
  • Süleymaniye Hamamı, Mimar Sinan Caddesi 20, +90 212-5203410 (), [13]. Sultan Suleyman had this Hamam built by the famous Architect Sinan in 1550. Architect Sinan build this hamam for himself. He used this hamam for washing. Suleymaniye hamam is the only mixed hamam in Istanbul. There are no different sections for each sex, thus the families may comfortably enjoy this hamam together. Hamam also has two way free shuttle services for the hotel guests if the booking comes through their reception Entry €31.50.
  • Sultanahmet Hamamı, +90 212-5137204 (), [14]. Open daily from 7AM until midnight, no entry after 10:30PM. A few steps from Sultanahmet tram station, the place is very much close to the main attractions at Sultanahmet. Of course many of the visitors are tourist, however it isn’t feeling too commercialize as the Cağaloğlu Bath one (e.g. No souvenirs are given, no tourist shop). There's a women section, and mixed section. The place is nice, the hosting is kind, and the whole experience is fun. But, if you're looking for a strong, thorough and long massage – you might find that disappointing. Tips can be given in one box by the doors, which reduce some of the "trading" filling.
  • Tarihi Şifa Hamamı, Sifa Hamami Sokak No. 24, +90 212-6383849. Established 1777, this is one of the cheaper options. It is entirely marble throughout and the fittings might well be the originals. It has a mixed or separate female sections. Enjoy a good scrub and clean, a massage and an apple tea which is all included in the general service. The staff's English is limited. 50 TL for a scrub and massage, 80 TL for scrub, massage, and an oil massage.

Buy

The Grand Bazaar during Republic Day

Istanbul's historical bazaars are located in Old City.

  • Grand Bazaar (Kapalı Çarşı). [15]. Istanbul's grand old bazaar with an estimated 4400 shops lined along covered walkways. It is said to be the world's oldest shopping mall, covers several blocks and features a labyrinth of side streets to keep you lost for the better part of a day. The shops are organized around their wares, e.g. the silver jewelers are clustered together, the carpet shops are clustered elsewhere and the shoe shops are bunched together somewhere else. Parts of it now are rather touristy (most locals don't shop there) and you're likely to pay a little more for your purchase than elsewhere but with the vast selection you'll find what you're looking for and it's one of Istanbul's character pieces.
    • Polisajci Brothers Antique Show, 37-39 Yaglikcilar Sokak, Ic Cebeci Han, +90 212 5261831. You will find Ottoman and other antique metal ware - copper bowls, jugs, pots and the like - once used in hammams and kitchens.
    • Derviş, 33-35 Keseciler Sokak, +90 212 514 4525 [16]. Turko-Californian spa shop with raw silk and cotton clothing made to last a long time.
    • Chalabi, 6 Sandal Bedesten Sokak, +90 212 5228171. Grand Bazaars’ oldest family-run antiques dealer offers Ottoman silver, furniture and jewelry from old Ottoman families, and other oriental treasures.
    • Deli Kızın Yeri, 82 Halıcılar Çarşısı, +90 212 526 1251 [17]. Deli Kızın Yeri (The Crazy Lady's Place) was founded by The Crazy Lady herself, an American who has retired in Turkey, who specializes in creating flat, useful, packable items using traditional Turkish motifs, handicrafts and fabrics. Items produced by local artists suiting the flavor of the shop comprise the rest of their inventory. The selection of items changes constantly, but generally includes items such as placemats, tablecloths, purses, doorstops, plastic bag holders, napkin rings, tea cozies, Turkish-flavored teddy bears and dolls, luggage tags, aprons, pillows, and limited edition clothing.
    • Deli Kızın Yeri Junior, 42 Halıcılar Çarşısı, +90 224 757 4229. The Grand Bazaar's first and only children's store, filled with Turkish inspired toys and games for kids of all ages. Your kids will love it!
    • Can Antik (Art and Antiques), Cadircilar Caddesi Lutfullah Sokak no 34/36, Beyazit (in the Grand Bazaar), +90 212 512-58-28, [18]. You will find Ottoman and other antique metalware here - copper bowls, jugs, pots Ottoman silver, furniture jevelry and big colection antique textile dating back to Ottoman era.
  • Egyptian Bazaar (Mısır Çarşısı, also known as Spice Bazaar) in Eminönü is also a covered bazaar, which is a lot smaller than Grand Bazaar, and as its name implies, houses herbalist and spice shops.
  • Rugs and kilims
    • Mevlana Rug Store, Torun sok. 1, Sultanahmet, +90 212 5171260 (fax:+90 212 5177476) [19]. Mevlana Rug store is the only store which is recommended by The New York Times.
    • Bazaar 55 Rug House, Akbiyik Cad. 55, Sultanahmet, +90 212 6382289 [20]. The carpet shop known to be most trust-worthy.
    • Mehmet Cetinkaya Gallery, Kucuk Ayasofya Caddesi, 7 Tavukhane Sokak, +90 212 5176808 [21]. Glorious museum-quality textiles, a feast for the eyes.
    • Best Carpet Gallery, Binbirdirek Caddesi No. 3/36 , +90 535 722 01 75 [22]. buy online Rugs and Kilims.
  • Chalcedony. A semi-precious gemstone named after the near-by town of Chalcedon.
    • Chalcedony, 2 Ayasofya Caferiye Sokak, +90 212 5276376 [23]. One stop shop for raw rocks, smooth stones and finished jewelry of the pale-blue, semiprecious chalcedony.
  • You can buy tourist-kitsch souveniors all around the city. A magnet with coloured picture of Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia will cost 2 TL each.
  • Haggling over the price is the norm when shopping. Shopkeepers usually let you offer a price lower than the retail price; once a price agreeable to both is met, then the sale can be finalized.
  • Certain stalls selling tourist-kitsch souveniors near tourist areas (e.g. Aya Sofya, Topkapi Palace) might have staff that are rude/uncouth and make jokes' at tourists' expense during a sale. An example is the tourist-kitsch souvenior shop nearest the exit of Topkapi Palace, where the young sales staff there have been observed on several occasions to be rude and make jokes at the expense of foreign tourists.
    • It is therefore advisable to buy from older traders, as they are more friendly and more respectful of tourists.

Mall

  • Historia, Vatan Caddesi (Adnan Menderes Bulv.) 2, Fatih (roughly at the midway between 'Aksaray' and 'Emniyet-Fatih' stations of M1 metro line; public bus stop 'İskenderpaşa' is right in front of the place), +90 212 532-02-02 (, fax: +90 212 531-10-10), [24]. Recently opened Historia is the only shopping mall in Old City (and likely will be the only one, as large-scale new development is restricted in most of this part of the city), and is the place to go if you are looking into something more modern and less touristy than Covered Bazaar. Usual selections of garment, electronics, and furniture stores, a large supermarket, as well as a bowling alley, fast food joints, and movie theater. While there, you may also want to check out Fenari İsa Mosque just next to Historia (across the narrow alley at the side of the mall), which is a small red-brick Byzantine church from early era, which was renovated in 1970s and now serves as a mosque after staying derelict since a fire damaged the building in 1918.

Eat

Budget

Prices have gone up and it is quite difficult to eat under TL10 now (Dec 2010), especially in the area around Sultanahmet Square. Restaurants and Kebab places in Sultanahmet are mainly destined to tourists with prices much higher than in places such as Taksim for instance. A kebab can cost from TL1.50 to TL5, TL8, TL10 and higher. For a good price and nice atmosphere, there is a local restaurant with no pretension at all in a small street near the Blue Mosque. For budget meals as well, it is advisable to avoid the restaurants along the tram line in the same area, although there are some really nice places there where a lunch can cost TL20 and they offer water-pipes and boardgames.

  • Vivaldi Restaurant, Mustafa Kemalpasa Cad. No 52/A, Yenikapi (Take a tram to Laleli - buy some leather shoes/bags! - and then stroll down towards the water on Ataturk Blv/Mustafa Kemal Cad. Look for the Efes Beer umbrellas), (0212) 458 68 27. Definitely try the bitter wrap or mixed pide. Friendly staff who will insist on giving you free Turkish tea in this quiet little cafe situated in a non-tourist-trap area. meals under YTL 10.
  • Doy-Doy Restaurant, Sifa Hamamı Sokak No: 13, Sultanahmet, (0212) 517 15 88. An unassuming cafe spread out over three floors and a roof terrace with views over the Marmara Sea and the Blue Mosque. A bit of a hidden gem, and well worth the visit. Often recommended by locals and reviewed by Fodors. Serves a menu of simple kebabs, chicken and lamb stews, and pide (Turkish pizza) baked in a wood-burning oven. A variety of mezes are also available. Lunch specials include bean or lentil soup. Soups, meatless pizzas, veggie kebabs and salad are great options for vegetarians. Friendly service. Cheap. Open late. meals under YTL 10.
  • Hayat Cafe, Corner of Akbıyık Cad. and Mehmet Ağa Cad., Sultanahmet, Istanbul. This unassuming hole-in-the-wall cafe might not look like much. In fact, the entire cafe is outside under a covered roof. Though due to popularity, most of the seats are spilling over to the sidewalk and street, and with good reason. While the beer is cold and cheap, it isn't much to speak of. But the food is exceptional (a gem among the other restaurants in the area). A nice mix of mezes (small plates), salads and kebabs. A good selection for vegetarians. Cheap. Open late. Friendly staff. Accepts Euros and Turkish currency. about YTL 10.
  • Meshur Köfteci (Selim Usta), near the Sultanahmet tram stop (150 meters downhill). Three floor restaurant. Meshur means famous, and they rightly claim that title. Their specialty is meatballs (in a slightly different form, called köfte). Take it with a piyaz (beans salad) and ayran. Service is very swift and attentive, prices ordinary.
  • Karadeniz Aile Pide ve Kebap Salonu, Divanyolu Cad. Hacı Tahsinbey Sok. Sultanahmet (about five meters down a side street just a bit west from the Sultanahmet tram stop), +90 212 528 62 90, [25]. Their specialty is pide, and at this they excel. Prices are ordinary for a quality pide place. Friendly staff. around 10-15 TL for mains, 4 TL soup/salad, complementary Turkish tea.
  • Lale Restaurant, or the legendary Pudding Shop [26] as known by Hippies of 60’s, is still open but without its former glory and crowd. In Sultanahmet, very near the tram station.
  • Full-screen Galata Bridge Fish Sandwiches, Galata Bridge (Lower Level). Balik ekmek! That's what you listen out for when you're heading down to the lower level of the Bridge on the Eminonu side. Once a raucous tradition for the local fishermen to sell their 'fish in bread' straight of the side of the boat—occupational health and safety policy banned the popular trade, though you can still find the delicious morsels here! Wash it down with a fresh pickle juice..
  • Tarihi Subaşı Lokantası, Çarşıkapı, Nuruosmaniye Cad. No:48-2 (close to 'Nuruosmaniye' gate of Grand Bazaar), +90 212 522-47-62 (fax: +90 212 511-62-19), [27]. Traditional Ottoman/Turkish cuisine. A must go place.

Mid-range

  • Rumeli Cafe a.k.a Mozaik Cafe, Ticarethane Sokak No:8 (near Divanyolu Caddesi, about one block from the Basilica Cistern), 212 512 00 08. On a relatively quiet street but close to all the attractions of Sultanamet. Serves mostly traditional Ottoman and Turkish dishes, with lots of lamb on the menu. Staff are friendly and there are tables both indoors and on the sidewalk. 35-55 YTL per person (main, appetizer + one drink).
  • Green Corner. Nice, lovely little open-air café just down the road from the Basilica Cistern. Eat a gözleme whilst lying down and smoking a Turkish pipe.

Splurge

  • The Four Seasons Hotel, Tevkifhane Sokak No. 1, Sultanahmet-Eminönü, 90 (212) 638 82 00 [28]. The Four Seasons does a spectacular, but pricey, Sunday brunch featuring a range of Turkish and international dishes (January 2005 price - 70 YTL, 11.30AM-3PM).
  • Asitane [29], at Edirnekapi. Asitane specializes in traditional Ottoman cuisine, based on meticulously researched recipes used in the royal palaces of the Ottoman empire. The main theme of these recipes are unique blends of meats and fruits. In spite of the traditional nature of the menu, the restaurant decor would not be out of place in London or New York. Pay special attention to the lamb dishes.

Drink

Restaurants under Galata Bridge
  • Cheers, Akbiyik Caddesi 20, in Sultanahmet, +90 5324096359. Daily, 10AM-2AM. Offers the cheapest beers in town to a crowd of travellers.
  • The restaurants located on the lower level of the Galata Bridge which connects Old City with Galata also double as beerhouses even if you have no intention of having something to eat. Open-air parts of these restaurants beside the bridge railings offer a beautiful view of the mosque domes and towers and the Topkapı Palace dominating the Old City's skyline.

Cafés

For something more typical, check out these cafés:

  • Cagaloglu Hamami Café, Prof. K.I. Gurkan Caddesi, Cagaloglu. A café located in a former hammam, dating 1741, where you can listen to live traditional Turkish music.
  • Sark Kahvesi', Yaglikcilar Caddesi 134 (in the Grand Bazaar) [30]. The most famous cafe in the market and a time warp into days gone by, full of traders playing backgammon. Turkish coffee NTL 1.5.

Sleep

Accomodation in the peninsula is mostly around Sultanahmet. Cankurtaran, a neighbourhood just south of Sultanahmet Square towards the coast of the Sea of Marmara, is one of the places where hotels/hostels cluster most.

Free

  • Istanbul has a large community of CouchSurfing.com users who will allow you to stay at their home free. It is customary to take your host out for a meal, and spend time sharing your culture with them.

Budget

  • Asmali Hotel Sultanahmet, Küçük Ayasofya Caddesi Sultanahmet, +90 212 638 3534 (), [31]. * Serenity Hotel Istanbul, Kucukayasofya Mahallesi Kasaposman Sokak No:27 Sultanahmet (Just next to Blue Mosque), +90 212 638 2802 (, fax: +90 212 638 2804), [32]. Breakfast and all the taxes included in price. Rooms include air-con, TV, laundry, free wireless connection and internet. Starts at €40/60 for singles/doubles. Starts at €40/60 for singles/doubles.
  • Sarnic Premier Hotel, Somewhere in Sultanahmet, +90 212 518-10-61 (, fax: +90 212 518-10-62), [33]. Breakfast included, linen included; luggage storrage, wi-fi in the lobby, free internet in the rooms, air-con. No curfew, 24 hour check in, airport pick up available.Very new and good Starts at €30 for a single room; credit cards accepted.
  • Big Orange Hotel, Akbıyık Değirmen Street No: 3 Sultanahmet, +90 212 518-10-61 (, fax: +90 212 518-10-62), [34]. Breakfast included, linen included; luggage storrage, wi-fi in the lobby, free internet in the rooms, air-con. No curfew, 24 hour check in, airport pick up available. Starts at €30 for a single room; credit cards accepted.
  • Olimpiyat Hotel, Ebusuud Caddesi Erdogan Sokak no: 6 (Just next to Topkapi Palace), +90 212 511 96 59 (, fax: +90 511 99 16), [35]. Breakfast and all the taxes included in price and free airport transfer offered. Rooms include air-con, TV and minibar, laundry, free wireless connection and internet. Starts at €40/50 for singles/doubles in high season.
  • Star Holiday Hotel, Divanyolu Street No:10 Sultanahmet (right in front of the Blue Mosque), +90 212 512 29 61 (, fax: +90 212 512 31 54), [36]. Breakfast on a nice terrace (right in front of the Blue Mosque) is included in the price at this standard hotel. Rooms include air-con, TV and minibar. Starts at €40/50 for singles/doubles in high season.


  • Deniz Konak Hotel, Küçük Ayasofya Caddesi No:14 Sultanahmet, +90 212 518 95 95 (), [37]. Rooms with own bathroom, wireless internet access, cable TV, possibly sea view with balcony, minibar, free breakfast, 24 h reception, air-conditioning, terrace, laundry service. Double room 50 USD in high season (other rooms available as well) as of 09/2009.


  • Istanbul Holiday Hotel, Küçük Ayasofya Caddesi No:28 Sultanahmet, +90 212 512 29 61 (, fax: +90 212 512 31 54), [38]. Rooms with en-suite bathroom, satellite TV, and internet access. From € 30/40 for a single/double room.
  • Dongyang Hotel/Hostel Istanbul, Alemdar Cad. Tramway Yolu Üzeri No: 7 Sultanahmet, +90 212 511 24 14 (, fax: +90 212 528 95 33), [39]. Rooms with en-suite bathroom, satellite TV, and internet access. From € 10 for dorm rooms, from €40 for double rooms.
  • Stone Hotel Istanbul, Binbirdirek Mah.Sehit Mehmet pasa yokusu Sk.No 34 Sultanahmet, +90 212 638 1554 (, fax: +90 212 517 6330), [40]. Rooms with en-suite bathroom, satellite TV, and internet access. From € 45/55 for a single/double room.
  • Hotel Petrol Palace, Divanyolu cad. Dr.Emin Pasa sok. No:4, Sultanahmet, +90 212 511 53 33 - 34 (, fax: +90 212 522 31 50), [41]. Hotel Petrol Palace is housed in a hundred-year-old neoclassical Turkish house. Smoking and no smoking rooms are available. € 49/59/77 for single/double/triple rooms. Cheaper Nov-Mar.
  • Hotel Alp Guesthouse, Akbiyik street, adliye small street, Sultanahmet, +90 212 517 7067 (), [42]. All the rooms have ensuite bathroom, TV, wired/wireless free internet connection, mini-bar, safe box. There is open buffet breakfast service on the terrace which has marmara sea and asian continent view. breakfast is included to room rates. Single 35/55 Euro, double 55/70 Euro, triple 65/80 Euro, Family room 80-100 Euro.
  • Grand Anka Hotel, +90 212 635 20 20 (, fax: +90 212 534 18 55), [43]. Istanbul Hotel Grand Anka Serves with hospitality, greetingly respectfully from 1996.
  • Tulip Guesthouse, Akbiyik cad. Terbiyik Sokak No:15/2, Sultanahmet, +90 212 517 65 09 (), [44]. Very friendly and helpful staff, two guys both university educated, intelligent, well acknowledged about Turkish history and Middle East politics, always eager to let you know about Istanbul's cultural events and highlights. Kitchen has a great view to Marmara with free coffee and Turkish tea. Dorm beds €10, en-suite rooms from €45.
  • Hostel Orient, Yeni Akbiyik Cad 13, Sultanahmet, +90 212 517 9493 (fax: +90 212 518 3894, info@orienthostel.com), [45]. Okay hostel in a good location in Sultanahmet. Staff are friendly and willing to help. Cafe/bar upstairs, rooftop lounge area overlooking the Golden Horn, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, and the oldest mosque in Istanbul (it's small and has one minaret, just go down the street towards Topkapi). Pretty cheap rooms, but the travel agency downstairs is overpriced, as is the beer in the bar. Belly dancers two or three nights per week in the basement bar, but expect competition for her affections from older local businessmen. 18/20 YTL for 8 bed/4 bed dorm rooms, private rooms 40-70 YTL.
  • Istanbul Hostel, 35 Kutklu Gun Sokak, Sultanahmet (Next to Blue Mosque and Four Season Hotel), +90 212 516 93 80, [46]. checkin: 11am; checkout: 10-11am. Six and eight bed dorms, street-level tables, rooftop restaurant and lounge area with amazing views and mediocre food, basement bar/cafeteria/patio, where free Turkish breakfast is served every day. Free wireless and free internet at two aging computers in the lobby. Staff are very helpful and friendly. Staff can arrange transport to and from the airport, and the hostel has a travel agency which can set you up with other hostels and trips in the country. Atmosphere is good. Downstairs rooms may be noisy; the upstairs rooms share a single (working) shower (which doesn't get hot) in an unventilated restroom. no real common room. dorms 20 YTL.
  • Istanbul Hostel Sinbad, Kucuk Ayasofya Mh., Demirci Resit Sokak, Sultanahmet [47]. Offers budget accommodations for backpackers. They offer discounts for students and hostels' card holders, together with some other amenities as free breakfast. Sinbad has a total 22 rooms - 92 beds. Dorm rooms have six beds, only female dorm, single, double, triple, quad rooms are available.
  • Bahaus Guesthouse, Bayramfirin Sokak No:11, Sultanahmet, +90 212 638 65 34 (fax: +90 212 517 66 97). Friendly staff with lots of useful objective information to share. Dorm room around €12 including breakfast. Rooftop bar beer 5 YTL (can't bring anything except water to hostel). Free internet.
  • Mavi Guesthouse, Kutlugün Sokak No:3, Sultanahmet, +90 212 517 72 87 (fax: +90 212 516 58 78, mavipans@hotmail.com) [48]. Breakfast is included in the price and this guesthouse is close to the Four Seasons Hotel and many other backpackers. Staff can arrange transport to and from airport (approx 12 YTL). Internet is available for a nominal fee or free with wireless LAN Laptop. Small (cosy) TV room etc. €10/11 for 6 bed/4 bed dorm rooms, private rooms for €20-33.
  • Yeni Otel, at a side street 100 m from Sirkeci station. Go towards Sultanahmet and turn into the first street on the left. Shared basic bathrooms, hot water. Manager is friendly but has a limited knowledge of English. 50 TL for a basic double.
  • Mavi Onur Hotel, Küçük Ayasofya Mahallesi, Aksakal Sokak No:28, 34410 Sultanahmet, +90 212 4580690 (, fax: +90 212 4580692), [49]. Small, family run guesthouse. Offering six rooms that have their own private shower, toilet, hair-drying facilities and air conditioning. The breakfast is included in the price and they have a rooftop terrace. from 11 euro for a dorm bed to 42 euro for a triple room (high season prices).
  • Hotel Nomade, Divanyolu Caddesi, Ticarethane Sokak 15, Sultanahmet, +90 (212) 513 81 72 (, fax: +90 212 513 24 04), [50]. Rooms with en-suite bathrooms and air-con. € 80/100 for single/double rooms, breakfast included.

Mid range

  • Garden House Hotel-Sultanahmet, Kucuk Ayosofya Mahallesi Sehit Mehmet Pasa Sok.Sultanahmet, Istanbul (garden@gardenhouseistanbul.com 0212 517 9111). is one of the best lodging options in Istanbul Sultanahmet Old City. Located in a typical and recently remodelled 19th Century Ottoman House building, its peaceful setting in a residential area and proximity minutes by walk to St Sophia Church,Topkapi Palace and Grand Bazaar make it the perfect hotel for both leisure,Honeymoon and family stays. This Boutique and Luxury Hotel has Stunning design, elegant and romantic, each room tastefully decorated and has the very well signs of 19th Century Turkish architecture displaying the immaculate attention to detail reconstructed to provide the ideal blend of color, texture and atmosphere. The hotel get it’s name from the Gardens it has.The Rate Are: €70 & € 250 For Deluxe Room with Balcony.
  • Hotel Prince, Nobethane Caddesi Kargili Sokak 5, Sirkeci, +90 212 513 25 50 onlinesales@hotelprince.com, [51]. The breakfast is served at the roof top restaurant with a great view of Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, and the Bosphorus. Rates start at €75/100 for single/double in high season.
  • Hotel Yasmak Sultan, Ebusuud caddesi no: 14 34110 Sirkeci, +90 212 528 13 43 info@hotelyasmaksultan.com , [52]. Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern and the Grand Bazaar are at your doorstep, and the City Center is within walking distance of the Yasmak Hotels which offer an array of comforts and services to render your stay a delightful experience. Yasmak Sultan, one of the oldest hotels in Istanbul, has been home-away-from-home to countless guests since 1965. This hotel offers a boutique ambience and first-class amenities in a 4 star hotel quality. Room rates and prices starts at €75/100 for single/double in high season.
  • Tulip House, Katip Sinan Cami Sok. No:28 (close to Blue Mosque, Sultanahmet tram stop), ''+90'' 2124588403, [53]. Beside everything required in a mid-class hotel such as open-buffet breakfast, wi-fi, clean rooms, bathrooms etc, Tulip House has very large rooms with high ceilings and perfect sea view, try to rent a room on the sea side with balcony, for a perfect evening. In a very The guys running the place are exceptionally helpfull, espeacially Emrah who has very large akcnowledge bout Istanbul and Turkish history.
  • Hotel Armagrandi Spina, Utangac Sok. 19, 34400 Sultanahmet, +90 212 638 1727 (info@hotelspina.com) [54]. Beautiful renovated boutique hotel that has excellent off-season deals (€60/night via hotels.com) and decent mid-range prices during peak season. Smaller rooms great for couples. Breakfast on terrace included, with amazing view of Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia. You may see one or both from your room window, too. Elevator, no frills minibar, free wifi, exceptional staff.
  • Armada Hotel, Ahirkapi Sok. 24, 34122 Cankurtaran, Istanbul. Semimodern hotel. Free wireless. Located in Sultanamet between the sea and the Blue Mosque. Working aircon, fridge. Own bathroom. Restaurant at the top of the building with a nice view of the sea and the Blue Mosque. Price via hotels.com: 42 EUR double room.
  • Sultanhan Hotel Piyerloti Caddesi No:15/17 Sultanhamet, +90 212 516 32 32 (fax: +90 212 516 59 95, info@hotelsultanhan.com), [55]. This five-floor hotel features 40 guestrooms, all of which have Ottoman-style decor with patterned fabrics and chestnut furnishings. All are equipped with internet connections, satellite television and minibars. €190/230 for single/double in high season.
  • Ottoman Hotel Imperial, Caferiye Sokak No:6/1 Sultanhamet, +90 212 513 61 51, [56]. An unbeatable view of Hagia Sophia Museum and Sultanahmet Square and a blend of Ottoman and Istanbul cuisine is what you'll experience at the Ottoman Hotel Imperial. With its exquisitely furnished guest rooms reflecting the Ottoman art, trend-setting restaurants and bars, extensive guest services and in-house amenities, Ottoman Hotel Imperial responds to the needs of the most demanding leisure and business travellers. Rooms start at €100/120 for single/double in high season.
  • Blue House Hotel (Mavi Ev), Dalbasti Sokak No:14, Sultanahmet, +90 212 638 90 10/11/12/13/14/15/16 (fax: +90 212 638 9017, info@bluehouse.com.tr) [57]. Opened July 1997 and located at the heart of old city center, steps away from world famous Blue Mosque. €120/140 for single/double in high season.
  • Empress Zoe, Adliye Sokak No:10 (near Akbiyik Caddesi), Sultanahmet, +90 212 518 2504 (fax: +90 212 518 5699, info@emzoe.com) [58]. A wonderful little hotel in a quiet street just off Sultanahmet, with spartan but elegant rooms decorated in Turkish style and beautiful views over the Hagia Sophia from the rooftop terrace. All mod cons including bathroom, air-con, safe. Rooms from €50 and suites from €100, including breakfast.
  • Ibrahim Pasha, Terzihane Sok. No. 5, Adliye Yani, Sultanahmet, +90 212 518 0394 (fax: +90 212 518 4457, contact@ibrahimpasha.com) [59]. A lovely boutique hotel just steps away from the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. The room rates include a full Turkish breakfast in the dining area off the main lobby. The hotel has a rooftop sitting area with direct views of most of the major sites in Sultanahmet - an incomparable vista as the moon rises on a clear evening. The comfortable rooms have all mod-cons, including wi fi. The staff are attentive, courteous and helpful. Highly recommended. Rooms from €125 for a standard.
  • Dersaadet Hotel, Kapiağasi Sokak No:5, Sultanahmet (one block below Kucukayasofya Caddesi), +90 212 458 07 60 (fax: +90 212 518 49 18 admin@hoteldersaadet.com) [60]. Boutique hotel on a quiet street 5-10 minute walk from the Blue Mosque and Ayasofya. Rooms are decorated in 19th century Ottoman-style and come with air-con, TV, mini-bar and safe, and all guests can use the high-speed internet/Wi-Fi in the lobby. The rooftop terrace looks out over the Sea of Marmora and part of the Blue Mosque. Room rate includes breakfast. €95/105 for single/double in high season, suites are €120 - 240 depending on time of year and room (10% discount if paid in cash).
  • Hotel Niles Istanbul, Dibekli Cami Sokak No:19, Beyazit, +90 212 517 32 39 (fax: +90 212 516 07 32, info@hotelniles.com) [61]. Another Ottoman mansion converted to a hotel, it is located five minutes from the Grand Bazaar. Rooms come with air-con, TV, mini-bar and Wi-Fi, and there is high-speed internet in the lobby. Complimentary breakfast is served in the rooftop terrace, which overlooks the Sea of Marmora. €55/65 for single/double in high season (10% discount if paid in cash).
  • Hotel Inter Istanbul (Budget rates on mid-range facilities), Mithatpasa Cad. Buyuk Haydar Efendi Sok. No: 29 Beyazit, (+90 212) 518 35 35 (Fax: (+90 212) 518 35 38, info@hotelinteristanbul.com) [62]. Away from the crowd and touts of Sultanahmet yet within walking distance (approx. 7-10 minutes). Located on a quiet street stone-throw away from the Grand Bazaar, Beyazit tram station and buses that goes to Taksim and other parts of Istanbul (2-minute walk). Modern-style rooms, comfy beds, TV with English programs and news, wi fi connection in rooms and a free PC use at the lobby, helpful staff that make-up rooms and replaces towels daily. €35/40 single, €45/50 double, €55-60 triple, €65-80 family (winter/summer) inclusive of breakfast. 10% discount on cash payments and free airport-hotel pick-up (min. 3 days stay).
  • Yigitalp Hotel Istanbul (Budget rates), Gençtürk Cad. Çukur Çeşme Sok. No: 38 Şehzadebaşi, (+90 212) 512 98 60 (Fax: (+90 212) 512 20 72, sales@yigitalp.com) [63]. Rooms with en-suite bathrooms, air-con, satellite TV, and free internet access. From € 55/65/90 for single/double/triple rooms.
  • Erguvan Hotel Istanbul, Aksakal Cad. No:3 Sultanahmet, +90 212 4582784 (info@erguvanhotel.com) [64]. Rooms with air-con, satellite TV.
  • Eski Konak Hotel Istanbul, Cankurtaran Mahallesi Akbiyik Cad. No:44, Sultanahmet, +90 212 458 74 23 (info@eskikonakhotel.com) [65]. In the heart of historical Sultanahmet, one of Istanbul's newest hotels. Just a short walk to Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaar. Friendly multilingual staff. 9 rooms.
  • Hotel Med Cezir, Tevkifhane Sok. No: 6 Sultanahmet, +90 212 517 59 35 (info@hotelmedcezir.net) [66]. Small hotel and restaurant located right beside the Four Seasons Hotel. Comfortable and well appointed guest rooms with or without a private bathroom. Offering exceptional views of the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, the terrace bar is the perfect place for a drink in the evening. 24 hour room service is available. 10 rooms.
  • Rose Garden Suites Kucukayasofya mah sehit mehmet pasa sokak no : 5 Sultanhamet, +90 212 514 00 80 (fax: +90 212 517 00 80 ,www.rosegardenistanbul.com, rose@rosegardenistanbul.com The Rose Garden Suite’s have only 13 rooms with a unique design or Turkish architecture. The hotel is located very close to the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and Grand Covered Bazaar. The rates are from 49 to 219 Euro All year around
  • Hotel Tashkonak, Kucuk Ayasofya Cad. Tomurcuk Sokak 5 Sultanahmet, (+90 212) 518 28 82 (Fax: (+90 212) 638 84 91, info@hoteltashkonak.com) [67]. This quaint hotel offers great rooms, an exceptionally friendly staff and some of the best views of the Sea of Marmara anywhere in Sultanahmet. They also have free wi-fi, TV with English channels and a complimentary breakfast buffet every morning. Prices range from €50 for a single room up to €165 for a family room. 8% discount if paying with cash and free airport pickup is available.
  • Hotel Sultan Hill, Tavukhane sok. No:17-19-21 Sultanahmet, +90 212 5183293 (info@hotelsultanhill.com) [68].The hotel has been completely restored to resemble the original 18th century Ottoman house previously on the site. The panoramic view from the terrace is stunning with views of the sea and the Blue Mosque. The hotel is located within walking distance of all the major tourist attractions. There are 17 rooms, a traditional courtyard and a roof terrace bar. All rooms have air-con, mini-bar, TV, wi-fi and a safe. Room rates include breakfast. Room rates: single room 60 EUR, double 80 EUR, triple 120 EUR and family 140 EUR throughout the year.
  • Esans Hotel Old City Istanbul, Ishakpasa Cd. Yenisarachane Sokak No:4, Sultanahmet Old City Istanbul, +90 212 516 19 02 (fax: +90 212 516 19 03 info@esanshotel.com) [69]. Traditional Family-Run Unique hotel on a quiet street 3 minutes walk from Ayasofya.Rooms are decorated in 19th century Ottoman-style with air-con, TV, mini-bar and safe, Wi-Fi in the lobby.Complimentary International Phone Call and sellected essence to be placed in room. The rooftop terrace looks out over the Sea of Marmara and Princess Islands. Room rate includes breakfast. €95/110 for single/double in high season, suites are €120 - 190 depending on time of year and room (5% discount if paid in cash and free airport transfer with 4 nights).

Splurge

  • Hotel Sultania, Ebusuud caddesi Mehmet Murat Sokak No: 4 Sirkeci Sultanahmet, +90 212 528 08 06 (fax: 90 212 511 99 16), [70]. A new hotel opened in 2010 with 42 unique rooms which all the rooms are dedicated to the famous sultan wives. This is a concept hotel offering boutique hotel services and amenities. The room rates starts at 120 € as a discounted opening year rate.
  • Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet, Tevkifhane Sokak No:1, Sultanahmet-Eminönü, +90 212 638 82 00 (fax: 90 212 638 82 10), [71]. A converted prison in the historic Sultanahmet district. Offers stunning views of the Haghia Sophia, but no pool. Standard rooms start around $420.
  • Celal Aga Konagi Hotel at Beyazit, Sehzadebasi, Balabanaga Mah. Sehzadebasi Caddesi No:5/7, Sehzadebasi-Eminönü, +90 212 519 09 09 (fax: 90 212 514 09 09), [72]. With a free spa and pool facilities and free wireless internet, Celal Aga Konagi Hotel provides luxurious accommodation in the heart of Istanbul. 5-minute walk away and the Grand Bazaar and Blue Mosque is just a 20-minute walk away. Standard rooms start around $350.
  • Hotel Prince, Nobethane Caddesi Kargili, Sok. No: 5 Sirkeci, i Istanbul Turkey, +90 (212) 513 25 50 (, fax: +90 (212) 522 43 59), [73]. A 4 Star Hotel offering 127 modernly decorated rooms for business and leisure travellers.
  • Sirkeci Konak Hotel, Taya Hatun Sokak 5, Sirkeci, +90 212 528 43 44 (, fax: +90 212 528 44 55), [74]. A charming hotel which offers rooms with air-con, satellite TV, wireless internet connection.

Contact

Internet

All of Sultanahmet Park (between Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque) is a wifi hotspot free of charge.

There are also a couple of internet cafes along the tram line between Sultanahmet and Gülhane.


Stay safe

The focal point of the peninsula for travellers, Sultanahmet Square, is safe and policed during day and night, so by staying within the realms of common sense, you shouldn't encounter problems there. However, there are some issues to keep in mind for the rest of the old city:

  • The dilapidated, though picturesque, neighbourhoods around Süleymaniye, Zeyrek, the banks of Golden Horn west of Atatürk Boulevard (i.e., neighbourhoods of Balat, Fener, Ayvansaray), along the old city walls, and along the Marmara coast (especially Kumkapı west to Yedikule) are home to the impoverished recent immigrants to the city. While this doesn't automatically translate to unsafety, you may feel more comfortable if you avoid these places (especially narrow back alleys) during the evening and night. Around the main tourist sights, and the main streets leading to them, in these neighbourhoods, such as Süleymaniye Mosque or the taverns at Kumkapı, are perfectly safe, though.
  • Scams involving extremely overpriced drinks are common at nightclubs around Aksaray, which are best avoided completely. These are quite dangerous with the possible involvement of organized crime. See the "stay safe" section of main Istanbul article for more details on this.
  • Around Aksaray and Laleli, there are a number of illegal brothels which are not controlled by health authorities in any way. If you choose to engage in such activity, keep in mind that the (usually Eastern European and Central Asian) women you will encounter are more often than not involuntarily forced into prostitution to "pay off" the cost of their trip to Istanbul (where they were hoping to get decent jobs) and had their passports seized by their "boss". 24-hr national hotline phone # 157, with operators speaking in English, Russian, and Romanian in addition to Turkish is where you can report such incidents to bring the victims to safety.
  • In Eminönü's crowded underground passages (and in the rest of Eminönü, in general), be extremely wary of pickpockets, especially when climbing up and down the stairs.

Istanbul Police Department has a "tourism police" office with multilingual staff in Sultanahmet, just across the street from Hagia Sophia, where you can report passport loss or any other problems.

Cope

Laundry

  • Star Laundry, Yeni Akbıyık Cad. 18, Sultanahmet, +90 212 638-23-02. Laundry service. TL 4/kg (about € 2/kg).




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