Alican Kutlay

Alican Kutlay

Archaeologist and art historian based in Istanbul. Istanbul and Turkish Psychedelic Music geek. #ListenToTurkishPsychedelic

Throwback Istanbul: Aerial Photos from 1966 and 2017

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Today, with its 16 million population Istanbul is the largest city of Turkey (not capital city of Turkey) and one of the largest cities in the world. Istanbul’s population increased dramatically in the 1970s and 80s and this increase shows itself in aerial photos as well. In this post we juxtaposed the aerial photos of eight landmarks of Istanbul that were taken in 1966 and 2017.

Turkish Mosaic Tiles (Çini) of the Topkapı Palace

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Situated on top of the most visible hill of Istanbul, Topkapı Palace is one of the symbols of the city. It was built in 1461 by the Ottoman sultan Mehmet II, who conquered Constantinople and named it “Istanbul” in 1453. For more than four centuries the Topkapı Palace was administrative center of the Ottoman Empire as well as private house of the Ottoman imperial family. The palace was home to twenty two different Ottoman sultans and their families; as a consequence, the palatial complex expanded throughout its history with additional structures. Since 1924, the Topkapı Palace is functioning as a museum and it is the most visited museum in Turkey. Although the palace expanded sultan by sultan and family by family, there was one decorative element that remained unchanged and everyone followed: Turkish mosaic tiles (çini) decorating the walls. Our knowledge regarding the Turkish mosaic tiles of the Topkapı Palace is much less compared to its history and architecture, nevertheless this post attempts to give a background information regarding the Turkish mosaic tiles (çini) of the Topkapı Palace.

4 Hiking Trails Near Istanbul

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Geographically, Istanbul is a very unique city. It’s divided by a natural strait, the Bosphorus, it also borders two different seas, the Marmara Sea and the Black Sea, and its land connects two different continents, Europe and Asia. And, with a population of approximately 20 million, Istanbul is one of the most populated cities. Thus, it can be challenging to live in Istanbul and be closer to nature. Indeed, the spaces for long trekking and hiking routes are limited. In this post we’ll introduce you to four hiking trails near Istanbul. They are no more than two hours away by car and perfect for a real hiking experience.

A Brief List of Istanbul Recommendations

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Not only is Istanbul big, but it’s also very old. Even from an early Ottoman period could the city boast high numbers of engaged tourists traveling through. With so many sights to see, foods to eat, and drinks to drink, it’s a wonder why so many Istanbul enthusiasts and locals alike recommend the same activities. Hoping to break this cycle, here are the latest non-touristy or local recommendations from Istanbul Tour Studio.

Grand Admiral Mosques in Istanbul built by Mimar Sinan

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Mimar Sinan (1489-1588) -without doubt- was the most important Ottoman architect. In the sixteenth century he built or supervised hundreds of structures in every corner of the Ottoman Empire including mosque complexes, hamams (Turkish bath), bridges, hospitals, madrasas (religious high school), tombs, and many others. Patrons of these structures were either imperial family members or high-ranking officials such as Grand Vizier, Harem Agha, Shaykh al-Islam (Sunni Islam Religious Leader), and Kaptan-ı Derya (Grand Admiral). Among Sinan’s works in Istanbul, there are two mosque complexes (külliye) commissioned by two different Kaptan-ı Derya (Grand Admiral): Sinan Paşa Mosque and Kılıç Ali Paşa Mosque.

Summer Palace of the Byzantine Emperors: Boukoleon Palace

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Boukoleon Palace (Bucoleon Palace) was the summer palace of the Byzantine emperors, which was built along the shores of the Marmara Sea in the south of the Great Palace of Constantinople. It is very probable that it was built during the reign of Emperor Theodosius II (r. 408 – 450 AD) in the 5th century AD and its monumental façade still stands for more than fifteen centuries.

Istanbul Fish and Their Seasons

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Fishing season is -finally- open in Istanbul as of today, September 1st. As a city surrounded by two seas (Black Sea on the north and Marmara Sea on the south) and one strait (Bosphorus) connecting these two seas, Istanbul is rich in terms of fish and seafood. In addition, starting from Ancient Greek period to today Istanbul has a rich and serious history of fishing and fish consumption. For instance, Byzantion -Ancient Greek colony founded in the seventh century BC on the lands that later became Constantinople, and then Istanbul- was a fishermen village and main income of Byzantion was fish and other sea food. Moreoever, we know from primary sources that during the Middle Ages main nutrition of Istanbulites was fish.