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Instanbul: Fatih beyond Sultanahmet

The Golden Horn – the estuary of the Bosporus – divides the European side of Istanbul into what is historically known as “the old city” and “the new city”. The former is officially called “Fatih” and extends beyond the Sultanahmet area that we explored before. This set looks at a few other highlights of this district.

A lesser-known water reservoir known interchangeably as the Cistern of Theodosius and Şerefiye Sarnıcı (“goodwill cistern”) attracts significantly fewer crowds than the famous Basilica Cistern.
Istanbul
Istanbul
It is, truth be told, less impressive in both size and structure, but it tries to compete with its answer to Medusa heads.
Istanbul
Istanbul University was founded in 1453 immediately after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople. This historic Beyazıt Gate to the campus is one of the dominating features of the eponymous square.
Istanbul
The other major feature here is the mosque that also carries the name of Beyazıt.
Istanbul
It is an obvious understatement that mosques – there are over 3,000 of them in Istanbul, with at least a hundred being considered major ones – constitute the most eye-catching highlights throughout the city.

Here we are approaching Süleymaniye Mosque.
Istanbul
I have already been at this one of the most striking mosques in Istanbul on my first visit, but back then I bypassed its cemetery.
Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul
From the Süleymaniye terrace, there open probably the best views of the “new city” across the Golden Horn, presided over by the emblematic Galata Tower.
Istanbul
Istanbul
You can also see from here the New Mosque, which we also glimpsed at during my first visit a few years ago and will see more of momentarily.
Istanbul
But first, another type of Turkish institution, the hammam.

In the Zeyrek neighborhood, I went to see the Çinili Hammam, built in the 16th century by the same great Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan who built Süleymaniye Mosque and quite a few other famous ones (and the most famous Blue Mosque was built by his erstwhile assistant).

Going to a public bathhouse is something I would do very reluctantly, and despite many hammams offering various spa treatments in Istanbul, it was not initially in my plans to go to one. However, this ancient gem had only been recently renovated and was operating as a free-to-enter museum during my visit (it is expected to revert to its original purpose in a few months). That allowed me to get a feel for the entire establishment without undressing.
Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul
Old frescoes exposed on some walls were contrasted with a number of modern art installations throughout the premises.
Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul
Moving on foot around Fatih, I passed through some neighborhoods that straddled the spectrum of mildly neglected to seriously dilapidated. In a sense, right in the center of a big city.
Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul
The hilly topography regularly unveils long perspectives of elevated features.
Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul
The main feature in the last shot is the Molla Zeyrek Mosque, which started its life in the 12th century as a marvelous example of a Byzantine-style Christian Basilica.

A colorful ensemble such as in the next shot was surprisingly a not-too-frequent occasion on my walks.
Istanbul
Galata Tower pops in the perspectives with regularity.
Istanbul
Istanbul
This steep incline is among the prime Instagrammable spots in Istanbul. It is called Merdivenli Yokuş Evleri – literally, “Hill Houses with Stairs”.
Istanbul
Istanbul
And here we are approaching another famous Instagrammable location – the colorful houses of Balat.
Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul
There are several “rainbow” steps in various parts of Istanbul. These are also in the Balat neighborhood.
Istanbul
Let the absence of people in the shot not fool you – there are always dozens of people on these stairs. Thankfully, Photoshop’s AI-based generative fill capabilities have advanced to the point where I can remove any stranger in practically any situation without losing the detail of the background that they may obscure. That makes me very happy.

Another look across the Golden Horn, this time from the part of Balat waterfront that is known as İbb Haliç Nedim Parkı.
Istanbul
A different perspective – from the deck of a Bosporus ferry – towards the two mosques that enjoy the dominating position on the Fatih side of the Golden Horn, the New Mosque and the Süleymaniye Mosque.
Istanbul
You can see one end of the Galata Bridge on the right of the above frame. Here is how the New Mosque – deceptively named, as it dates from the 17th century – looks from that end of the bridge.
Istanbul
Galata Bridge is quite possibly the best spot for the most emblematic photography of Istanbul. One evening, I spent a couple of hours at different vantage points of the bridge taking various perspectives of the New Mosque and the Süleymaniye Mosque under progressively darkening skies.
Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul
In the next installment, we will cross the Golden Horn to the other side.