General Info The distinguishing features of the city of Istanbul are its geographic location, unique natural beauty, and the great historical and cultural heritage which has come to symbolize the city. Istanbul is located on the Bosphorus peninsula, with Halic (Golden Horn) in the northwest of the country. It is the only city placed on two continents: European and Asian Regions. With a unique location, between the Balkans and Anatolia, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, Istanbul embraces both western and eastern cultures.
It has been known as the Cisr-i Cedid, or the New Bridge, and was constructed in 1845 by Valide Sultan, the mother of Sultan Abd-ul-Mejid I (1823-1861). Admiral Hasan Ahmet Paşa renovated the bridge, putting it back into service in 1863 since it had been damanged in short span of time. At the end of 19th century, Aziziye Karakolu (Police Station) adorned it with eclectic accents built in the fore part of the bridge in the Galata district in order to increase pedestrian traffic and to quell the emerging (rising) discontent of the public.
After 37 years of service, a heavy bridge rolling with waterpower was constructed on the site. It was opened on the third aniversary of Sultan Mehmet V’s ascention to the throne in 1912.
The first time electric cars crossed this bridge between Eminönü and Karaköy was in January of 1914. The construction of a new bridge in the Golden Horn began in 1987. The Historical Galata Bridge was burnt for an unknown reason and a large fired damaged half of the bridge before the construction of the new bridge was completed in May 1992. After the fire, construction of the new bridge was accelerated, and it was opened on the site of the old bridge in June 1992.
The pieces of the old bridge, which was composed of 11 plaques, were left on the site in the Karaköy district, and the undamaged parts of the structure were carried away and placed on the foot in the Arttürk Bridge located in the Unkapanı district.
The Galata Bridge was being adequately protected against fire. Therefore, smoking was prohibited so as not to be burn the wooden platform of the bridge during day time. Moreover, the bridge has since been closed. It was known that the bridge was servicing pedestrians and carriages for hire, so a customary charge was initiated (müruriye).
The Galata Bridge is not only an architectural beauty, but it is also leaves a poetic image the life of the people of Istanbul.
Galata Bridge Projects
Leonardo da Vinci, born in the town of Vinci in the region of Florence, was invited to Istanbul during the reign of Sultan Bayezid II in the 16th century to built a bridge linking Eminönü to Karaköy. After Leonardo haddecided to come to Istanbul to built the bridge, he was later dissuaded Istanbul by the administration of the time. It appears from letters in the Topkapı Palace today that there was an action of Leonardo da Vinci on this head. The bridge building project of Leonardo da Vinci on the Golden Horn was implemented in Norway in 2000s. Furthermore, there were plans of another bridge project to be made on this site by Michelangelo.
Unkapanı Atatürk Bridge
Historically, on the site of the present Unkapanı Ataturk Bridge, there was a bridge called the “Jewish Bridge” (Yahudi Köprüsü) made of wooden planks. The purpose of building a bridge across the Golden Horn was to save citizens from paying a boat fee. For this reason, the bridge was known as the “Pious Deed Bridge” (Hayrat Köprüsü). The name of the bridge was changed to “Atatürk Bridge” in 1935.
The Covered Bazaar
The Covered Bazaar is a large complex consisting of 61 streets, 4400 shops, 2195 workshops, 18 fountains, 2 bedestens (vaulted and waterproofed areas of the bazaar where valuable goods are kept), 40 inns, 12 small mosques (mescit), 12 warehouses, 1 school, 1 bath, and 19 water wells.
The main gates of the Covered Bazaar are Beyazıt, Fesçiler, Sahaflar, Kürkçüler, Nuriosmaniye, Mahmutpaşa, Mercan, Tacirciler and Örücüler. The bazaar is traditionally closed after sunset. However, it was opened twice at night; first, during the fire in 1546, and during the celebraton ceremonies of Abdulmecit’s (1839-1861) return from his campaign in Egypt.
Most sections of the Covered Bazaar are built of wood during the reign of Suleiman The Magnificient (1494 – 1566) as an extension to the old part which was built during the reign of Mehmet II. The wooden part, which suffered great damage from three large fires, first in 1546 (the reign of Suleiman The Magnificent), second in 1651 (the reign of Murad V) and lastly in 1710 (the reign of Mustafa II), was rebuilt using stone.
The Covered Bazaar, with an area of 31.000 m², resembles a labyrinth. The roof is covered with lead and has numerous domes. Moreover, the Inner Bedesten (İç Bedesten), which is reported to have existed since the Byzantine period, measures 48x36m² with 8 columns and 15 domes.
From the past to the present, the bazaar has been repaired and restored many times. The most notable damage to the bazaar occurred during an earthquake in 1894.
The bazaar, with its architectural style designed specifically for enclosed shopping centers, entertains many visitors who come for both commercial and touristic purposes from different countries speaking different languages every day.
It is said that an old bazaar called Makron Envalos previously existed where the current Egyptian Bazaar stands.
The Egyptian Bazaar with its L-shape structure is located on the west side of the New Mosque (Yeni Cami). The year following the mosque’s construction, the "bazaar" section of the complex has been added by Mustafa Ağa, the head-architect of the Ottoman Palace. The main reason for it being called the “Egyptian Bazaar” is that it was built by the taxes collected from Cairo, Egypt. After the 18th century, this name began to be commonly used. The bazaar was originally called the “Valide Bazaar” or the “New Bazaar,” then it was later called the “Mısır Çarşısı” (Egyptian Bazaar). It has six doors total. The part near the Haseki Gate was designed as a double-storied structure and the upper floor also used as a court hall where cases between tradesmen and people were heard.
At the intersection of the the short and long branches of the bazaar an area is called the “Prayer Field” (Dua Meydanı) is located where an “Adhan ( Muslim call to prayer) Kiosk” is found. This section, designed and built out of wood, is the most notable part of the Bazaar. Once the bazaar opens, an officer in charge calls a prayer for the tradesmen and wishes them a high income.
Not only have spices been sold in the Egyptian Bazaar, but all sorts of medicines were sold during the old times in the bazaar as well. Signs used to be posted in conspicuous area of the shops. Most of the medicines were prepared according to the recipes from the book, “Nüzhet-ül Fi Tercüme-Afiyet” (A good appetite). Today, the bazaar has jewelry stores, herb and spice sellers, gift shops, etc.
The Egyptian Bazaar suffered heavy losses during the two large fires in 1691 and 1940. It took its present shape in 1940 after being restored by the Municipality of Istanbul.
“Arasta” is a bazaar where handcraft products are sold. The Arasta Bazaar is located directly behind the Blue Mosque, on the north side of Torun Street. There are more than seventy stores in the bazaar. It is also known as the “Sipahi Çarşisi” in Turkish because the needs of the Sipahi (the name of an Ottoman cavalry corps) were sold here during the Ottoman period.
The Arasta Bazaar was re-built on Byzantine ruins and is located on a narrow street with many lovely gift shops selling carpets, kilims, travel souvenirs, İznik tiles, scarves, etc on both sides of the street. The mosaics found in the environs of the Arasta Bazaar during excavation works in 1930s proved that the territory once had belonged to a Byzantine Palace complex.
After a fire in 1912, the bazaar lay in ruins for a long time. Later, it was occupied by slum residents. The slums were laterremoved and shops were restored. The Bazaar was put into service by the General Directorate of Turkish Foundations in the 1980s.
Sahaflar Book Market
The Sahaflar Book Market has a long history dating back to the 15th century. It is located between a stony place on the left-hand side of the Beyazit Mosque and the Sedefçiler Gate of the Covered Bazaar. In olden times, book stores used to supply the needs of madrasah students and were therefore located around the madrasahs. After the Covered Bazaar was built in 1460, these book stores were grouped together in a common area. The stores that had operated in the Covered Bazaar until the earthquakes in 1460 and 1894 moved to their present locationg which was already known as Hakkaklar Çarşısı.
Tradesmen of the Sahaflar Book Market belonged to Antiquarian Book Stores Trade Guild. They could not open a store without obtaining degree and rank of mastership following a period of apprenticeship. They used to open and close their shops according to the times of prayer. The spiritual guide of the Bookseller Trade Guild was Basralı Abdullah Yetimi Efendi, who is also known as one of the first booksellers of the Sahaflar Book Market.
Antonie Galland, a French author and the interpreter of the French Embassy who lived during the 17th century, gave a calligraphy manuscript decorated with miniatures to the King of France. It is now on exhibit at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris.
Evliya Çelebi, the famous Ottoman traveler of the 17th century, wrote in his book of travels “Seyahatname,” that there were 50 bookstores and 300 antiquarian booksellers serving scholars at the time.
The Sahaflar Book Market, including its thousands of calligraphy manuscripts, was completely destroyed in a fire during 1950. The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality confiscated the unburned part of the Sahaflar Book Market and began restoration. The wooden shops have been made into reinforced concrete shops and it has been turned into the present Book Market. In addition, there is a fixed bust of İbrahim Müteferrika (1674-1745), the first Ottoman publisher and printer in the middle of the market. Today, there are 23 bookstores in the Market, 17 of which are two-story shops.
The German Fountain
The German Fountain is located in Sultanahmet Square in Istanbul across from the Mausoleum of Sultan Ahmed I. It was constructed to commemorate the second anniversary of the German Emperor Wilhelm II's visit to Istanbul in 1898. The fountain's plans were drawn by the architect Spitta and was constructed by the architect Schoele. The German architect Carlitzik and the Italian architect Joseph Anthony also worked on this project.
It was officially opened January 27, 1901, on the birthday of German Emperor Wilhelm II. It was built in Germany, then transported piece by piece and reassembled in its current site in 1900. The Neo-Renaissance style of fountain's octagonal dome features eight marble columns, and the dome's interior is covered with golden mosaics. The Neo-Renaissance style of the octagonal fountain stands on a high floor with a staircase of eight stairs, seven brass faucets and, covering its reservoir, there is a dome which has eight porphyry columns. The exterior bronze green dome, which stands these over eight porphyry columns, and the dome's interior surface are decorated with golden mosaics as well as with Abdülhamid II's tughra and Wilhelm II's symbol.
The archs between the columns showcase the deep-rooted friendship between Turkey and Germany, and being situated in Sultanahmet Square, the artistic value of the fountain is further brought out.
Üsküdar Ahmet III Fountain
Üsküdar Ahmet III Fountain is located in Üsküdar Square across from the quay, which was built near the shore to serve passengers traveling accross the Bosphorus by Sultan Ahmet III in 1728. It has arrived in its present location during the square planar arrangement.
The fountain is made of solid marble, and inscribed on the side facing the square are verses by the famous Divan poet, Nedim. On the wall facing the mosque there are excerpts from the poet Rahmi, and on another wall are those from the poet Shakir. On the wall facing the Bosphorus one can read verses inspired by Ahmed III and his son-in-law, Nevşehirli Ibrahim Paşa, written in calligraphy by Ahmet III. There are many aspects and adornments of this fountain that give it a very different complexion. Among these are the many S and C curves used in its design, its badges on the niches of the polygonal prisma body, and how its polygonal body turns into square prisma after a certain height. A number of vases on which tulips, roses and chrysanthemums are used as motifs, used to decorate the side of the fountain, are viewed as the most beautiful samples of artistic workmanship on the fountain. In addition, other architectural beauties, such as muqarnases (a three-dimentional decoration of Islam architecture), lancet arches, and palmets add a brilliant aesthetic value to the fountain.
Today, the Fountain, which is located on the Main Street of Üsküdar where Hakimiyeti Milliye Street and Paşalimanı Street intersect, is one of the most beautiful fountains of Istanbul.