Our recent visit to Istanbul on board P&O’s Azura included an overnight stay and full second day. This gave the opportunity to first return to an historic site that time precluded the previous day and indulge myself in a Turkish Bath before meeting with my wife and heading off to discover another area of Istanbul.
So once again I crossed the Galata Bridge heading for the Gulhane area which is adjacent to the Hagia Sophia Museum. I could easily have taken the tram system but I do consider the walk over the Galata Bridge a must as often as possible: a good view of the cruise terminal and the hustle and bustle of the Golden Horn ferries.
I was heading for two Mausoleums, the first, a collection of 5 separate Mausoleums, is an annexe to Hagia Sophia Museum. It occupies an old baptistery that, following the collapse of Istanbul, was used as an oil store for the mosque’s lamps. In 1639 it was converted to a mausoleum following the death of Sultan Mustapha. Admission to the annex and the five mausoleums is free and an hour would certainly keep the visitor fully occupied.
The second mausoleum on my visit list was that of Sultan Mahmud II and it dominates the site of an old Ottoman cemetery some 30 minutes walk from the Hagia Sophia Museum, just follow the tramlines to Cemberlitas.
By now mausoleumed out, it was but a 5 minute walk to the Cemberlitas Turkish Bath. One of the two most famous Turkish baths in Istanbul, the visitor could easily pass the entrance if unaware of its position. It is directly opposite the Cemberlitas tram stop and Constantine’s Column.
The Cemberlitas Turkish Bath dates from 1584. It caters for both sexes, indeed, on the morning of my visit a rather large group of Japanese females were entering before me.
Suitably invigorated and refreshed on this occasion I did take the tram for my next leg of the visit, from Cemberlitas Tram stop, all the way back to the Tophane (the cruise Terminal) stop.
Having collected my wife from the Azura we set off on foot and walked the short distance, but steep climb, to Taksim Square. From there we took the Istanbul Metro in order that I could visit the Turk Telekom Stadium, the new home of Galatasary Football Club. One amazing stadium and for a football supporter, well worth the visit.
So back to Taksim Square and a planned walk along Istiklal Caddesi which is probably the busiest and most famous avenue in Istanbul. Having walked the length of Istiklal Caddesi we started our decent back to the ship, passing two ancient gems of this side of the Golden Horn, the Galatasary Hammam, originally built in 1481.