in Sightseeing

Istanbul with its unique synergy, culture, landscape, architecture, and wonderful energy has inspired many artists. We have met Istanbul’s magical blend of foreign and familiar, old and modern, Islamic and Mediterranean contrasts in novels, poetries, songs, and of course the movies. Istanbul’s world-renowned sites, such as the Topkapı Palace, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar, Eminönü, Basilica Cistern, Beyazıt and many other locations have showed their hospitality to many filmmakers. We have compiled some “Nostalgic Movie Scenes of Istanbul”  in Yeşilçam (Turkish cinema) in the previous posts. Now, we will list some new scenes of Istanbul from the Hollywood and the world cinema.

SKYFALL (2012) 

Skyfall is the 23rd movie of James Bond movie series and the 3rd James Bond movie shoot in Istanbul after “From Russia with Love” (1963) and “The World is not Enough” (1999). It was directed by Sam Mendes and Bond is characterized by Daniel Craig. Bond, here investigates an attack on MI6 which is a part of plot of former MI6 agent Raoul Silva. Raoul Silva wants to take revenge against M who betrayed him in the past. Beginning from the very first moments of the movie, the audience finds itself in an adventurous chase and Istanbul fits perfectly such chases. There are breathtaking scenes which take place at Eminönü Square, Grand Bazaar, and New Mosque. Motorcycles whiz rides through the labyrinthine corridors and the rooftop of the iconic Grand Bazaar:



La fille sur le pont (The Girl on the Bridge in English) is a black-and-white French movie directed by Patrice Leconte. The movie begins on a bridge in Paris. Adèle (Paradis) intends to kill herself by jumping from the bridge. Knife-thrower Gabor (Auteuil) prevents her suicide and convinces her to become his target girl. And their very romantic adventure, bringing great luck to both of them, starts… They travel around Europe with the act. When they separate, they return back to their unlucky lives and here we are on another bridge. The movie ends on the Galata Bridge in Istanbul and this time, Adèle saves Gabor from his suicide:


UZAK (2002)

Uzak (Distant in English) is a Turkish movie directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, who won the Palme d’Or the highest prize at the Cannes Film Festival, in 2014. Yusuf is a young man who goes to Istanbul to find a job. He stays there with his relative Mahmut, a 40-year-old independent photographer. The distant symbolizes the distance between these two men. Uzak has shot in wintry Istanbul that creates a kind of meditation effect on the audience:


IM JULI (2000)

Im Juli (In July in English) is a light-footed road movie and it was directed by German-Turkish director Fatih Akin. Im Juli is considered as the beginning of Akin’s cinematic journey to Istanbul. Daniel is a young teacher living in Hamburg and has no plan for summer holiday. At a flea market, Juli gives him a ring with a sun figure, which will help him to find his ‘dream-girl’ with a sun figure on her. The day after, Daniel is on his way to Istanbul to chase his dream-girl. And it turns out that she is already at his elbow along the road. Daniel realizes that he found the girl with sun and Ortaköy Square testifies a magical scene:


Politiki Kouzina (A Touch of Spice) means “Political kitchen” in Greek and it is a Greek movie directed by Tassos Boulmetis. Boulmetis is a Kadıköy born Istanbulite who later migrated to Athens with his family. A Touch of Spice, so to say, is a ‘delicious’ movie and inspired from Boulmetis’ life. It is about an adventure of tracing back to a childhood lost in a spice store. Fanis, whose grandfather is a culinary philosopher and mentor living in Istanbul, grows up in Istanbul and learns a lot from his grandfather. However, due to political reasons Fanis and his family are forced to leave Istanbul and they move to Athens. This event was more than leaving his birthplace for Fanis, because he also leaves his first-love. After years, Fanis travels to Istanbul to reunite his grandfather and his first love:


TAKEN 2 (2012)

Taken 2 is the 2nd movie of Taken triology. It was directed by Oliver Megaton. The retired CIA agent Byrian Mills invites his daughter Kim and his ex-wife Lenore to visit Istanbul for a few days while he is working in Istanbul. Nonetheless, their pleasant visit of Istanbul is interrupted by Murad Hoxha, who is the leader of the an Albanian gang community. Hoxha’s aim is taking revenge of his son killed by Byrian several years ago. He organizes another gang to kidnap Byrian and his family. Byrian and Lenore are abducted, but Kim succeeds to escape. And the adventure begins:


HAMAM (1997)

Hamam (Steam: The Turkish Bath in English) is an Italian-Turkish movie directed by Ferzan Özpetek. Francesco and Marta are running a small design company in Rome. Their marriage is not likely to be in the pink condition. Francesco’s long forgotten Aunt Anita dies in Istanbul and he travels there to sell the hamam (one of a few traditional Turkish baths left) he inherited. However, he instead decides to restore the Hamam and reopen it to the public. Mehmet helps Francesco during this restoration process and they start a relationship:


Bonus: The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.  is an American action-comedy spy movie directed by Guy Ritchie.  It was inspired from a television series very popular in 1960s. In 1960s as the height of the Cold War, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. centers on CIA agent Solo and KGB agent Kuryakin and two team up on a joint mission to stop a mysterious international criminal organization. Of course, we shouldn’t forget pretty Gaby. The Man from U.N.C.L.E captured our hearts (at least mine). Thus, it is entirely visually stunning thanks to its quite good looking and humorously stylized cast, marvelous scenes in the shadow of a gorgeous city: Rome. Here comes the good news: in the second movie, the team heads to Istanbul for their next mission. We are looking forward to seeing!

Istanbul is likely to host many other movies from both Hollywood and world cinema and we will have the chance to see it from brilliant angles of many filmmakers. Perhaps you know of some other movies set in Istanbul. We would be happy if you share them with us!


Deniz Özbaş
Blogger at Istanbul Tour Studio. Perfection seeker. Victim of wanderlust. Dealing with French.