When you are on the airport shuttle service into Istanbul, keep your eyes peeled for a glimpse of these three lesser-known attractions.
Istanbul is renowned as a centre of two cultures, straddling two continents. There is so much to be enjoyed in this exotic destination, but once you’ve explored the highlights, consider heading a little more “off the beaten path”.
With over 2,700 years of history, it should come as no surprise that the city is filled with lesser-known attractions – places to go and things to see and do that are not on the main tourist maps. Even on your journey from to your accommodation, ask your airport shuttle service driver for some locals only tips – it’s a great way to unlock the secrets of the city.
As a starting point, while in Istanbul, make sure that you take time to go and see the Kucuksu Kasri, the Yedikule Fortress, and the Beylerbeyi Palace.
Located in Beykoz neighbourhood on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus, it’s not likely you will pass by the Kucuksu Kasri on the airport shuttle service to the city. But you should definitely seek out this fascinating summer palace. Completed in 1857, the modest palace was built as a small summer residence for the Ottoman sultans, for short stays on hunting excursions. The palace only has two floors and a basement, and it is particularly unusual in that it has cast iron fences instead of walls. It was used as a guesthouse for a period up until 1944, but has been open to the public as a museum since and made an appearance in the film The World Is Not Enough.
After he conquered Constantinople in 1453, Sultan Mehmed II built a new fortress in 1458, by adding three larger towers to four existing ones. The result is the Yedikule Fortress, also known as the Fortress of the Seven Towers. Elegant and stark in its beauty, it has been used as a prison, archive and treasury over the years. In the 19th century, a girls’ school was built in the fort’s inner courtyard, and since 1895 it’s been a museum. It’s also used for cultural festivals and there is a theatre inside.
On the Asian side of the Bosphorus, you can visit the Beylerbeyi Palace, which was built in the 1860s as a summer residence and as a place to house visiting heads of state. In the early 1900s it was also a place of captivity for a removed sultan, Abdulhamid II. Though considered modest by the standards of palaces of the period, the Beylerbeyi Palace is absolutely stunning. It has two bathing pavilions to the front (one for men and one for women), and the main reception hall is, perhaps, the loveliest room, complete with a pool and fountain.
While on the short journey on your airport shuttle service to your accommodation, you may spot a number of other sites of interest not marked on the regular tourist map. Be sure to ask your airport shuttle service driver for information so you can return and explore these lesser-known districts on foot.