ITINERARY OVERVIEW

On this half-day tour (4 hours) we will cycle around the Golden Horn then cross it by boat. In this scimitar-shaped inlet of the Bosphorus, which divides Istanbul in two parts, Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman civilizations flourished for millennia. Across the centuries thousands of ships sailed through its golden waters for trade and warfare.

Riding along its shores we will see churches, mosques, ruins, museums, traditional districts, parks, bridges and a lot more, enjoying magnificent vistas of the city throughout te route.

Golden Horn Bike & Boat tour starts from the meeting point which is located in Balat district. We will ride our bikes through the shore of the Golden Horn, Istanbul’s natural harbor. In about 4 hours we will see Spice Bazaar (from outside), some of the important churches of Istanbul like; Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, St. Stephan Bulgarian Church, Blachernae Church. We will talk about of the Ottoman architecture looking at New Mother’s Mosque, Rustem Pasha Mosque, Suleymaniye Mosque and Eyup Sultan Mosque.  We will stroll through the traditional streets of Fener and Balat districts where Greek, Jewish and Turkish people lives together in peace  for hundreds of years. We will cycle in public parks adorned with colorful flowers, among the ruins either from Roman or Ottoman time. We will talk about the history of the conquest of Constantinople in front of Theodosian Walls. We may also visit an energy museum called Santral Istanbul optionally.  We will see all of the bridges build on Golden Horn; Galata Bridge, Unkapanı Bridge, Haliç Bridge. We will have a pleasant boat cruise on the Golden Horn on the way back.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarchate
  • St. Stephen Bulgarian Orthodox Church / Balat
  • Phanar Greek Orthodox College
  • Church of St. Mary of Blachernae  / Ayvansaray
  • Theodosian Walls of Constantinople
  • Feshane  (Old Fez Factory)
  • Eyup Sultan Mosque and Mausoleum
  • Santral Istanbul Museum of Energy (Old Silahtaraga Power Plant)
  • Miniaturk (Miniature Park of Turkey)
  • Boat Cruise on Golden Horn
  • Galata Bridge
  • New Mother Mosque
  • Spice Bazaar (Egyptian Bazaar)
  • Rustem Pasha Mosque
  • Golden Horn Metro Bridge
  • Kadir Has University (Old Cibali Tobacco Factory)

Monuments will be seen only from outside

The route may be subject to change depending on traffic, weather conditions and other factors

Duration: About 4 hrs. 

Distance: About 20 km 

Difficulty level: Moderate

Included: Guide service, Bikes, Helmets,  boat cruise on Golden Horn

Not included: Lunch

DESCRIPTION OF ITINERARY

Fener & Balat Neighborhoods

Fener and Balat, historically populated by Greeks and Jews, are the most characteristic and fascinating neighborhoods of Istanbul. In the narrow cobbled streets lined with multi-colored wooden houses (most of which ramshackle), one can see a wide spectrum of humanity: Muslim, Greek Orthodox, Jewish and Gypsy people conducting their daily life activities side by side. Here we’ll see the Greek Orthodox Patriarchy (one of the most important centers of Christianity), the Greek Orthodox College (a magnificent red-brick building dominating the hill) and the church of St. Stephen of the Bulgars (entirely built in iron and superbly decorated).

Ayvansaray

The picturesque neighborhood of Ayvansaray takes its name from the Palace of Blachernae which stood here in the past. The massive polygonal towers which we see now are all that remains of the Theodosian Walls. Nearby is the enclosed church of St. Mary of Blachernae where a holy spring (Ayazma) is housed. Following the city walls inland we get to the decaying ruins of Tekfur Palace (a late 13th-century Byzantine building). In Ottoman times this area was known for its shipyards.

Feshane

The massive building that we see on the shore of Golden Horn is Feshane. It was built in 1839 by Sultan Abdulmecit as a textile factory and in particular of fez (the traditional oriental hat). After being abandoned, in 1986 the factory was restored staying loyal to the original and today serves as an international congress and fair center.

Eyup Sultan Mosque

Next stop is Eyup Sultan Mosque, one of the most sacred places of the Islamic world. According to the legend, during the siege of Constantinople, Sultan Mehmet II discovered the burial place of Eyup Sultan, Prophet Mohammed’s standard bearer who had died here seven centuries before in the first attempted Muslim conquest of the city. In his honour Mehmet II built a huge complex including a tomb, a mosque, a madrasa, a kitchen and baths. We will have the chance to see a very traditional neighbourhood visited by thousands of devouts.

Santral Istanbul

Riding in the green area of Silahtaraga Park, around the ending shore of the Golden Horn, we will enter into Santral Istanbul. This is a modern and engaging arts and culture complex obtained from the former Silahtarağa Power Plant which was the Ottoman Empire’s first urban-scale power plant, in use from 1911 to 1983. We’ll take a break in the refreshment area of the site, enjoying a snack and a drink.

Minaturk 

After our short break we’ll get back on the saddle and continue the ride. We’ll pass by two interesting and special museums: Miniaturk is a huge park which contains 120 models (in 1/25th scale) of all the most beautiful and famous landmarks of Turkey;

Cruise on  Golden Horn

We will ride up to Sutluce ferry terminal where we will embark on a pleasant boat cruise of the Golden Horn. We will enjoy beautiful views of the city from the sea and admire all the splendid monuments which embellish the shores. After getting off at Karakoy, we’ll return to our starting point in Karakoy.

Galata Bridge

We will pass by the renowned Galata Bridge, connecting Eminönü and Karaköy, the old and modern parts of Istanbul. Here we’ll get a magnificent view of the city and enjoy the show of fishermen and people crowding the bridge.

New Mosque and Spice Bazaar

In this huge and bustling square we can admire two splendid monuments. The New Mosque (Yeni Camii or Valide Sultan Camii) is called so although it is 400 years old. The construction of the building took a long period of time: works started in 1597 on behalf of Safiye Sultan and finished only in 1663 under Tarhan Valide Sultan. Next to the Mosque is the Spice Bazaar, Istanbul’s second largest covered bazaar. In Turkish is known as the “Egyptian Bazaar” because it was built with the revenues from Egypt. Once it used to be the main selling center for spices but in recent years shops of any kind of products are found under its 88 vaults.

Golden Horn Metro Bridge

Cibali / Kadir Has University

The area of Cibali takes its name from the time of the conquest of Istanbul when a soldier named Cebe Ali Bey broke the rampart doors and entered the city. The district was home of many Ottoman warehouses and caulkers which using flammable materials caused many severe fires. The Cibali Tobacco Factory was founded here in 1884 and was shut down and completely abandoned in 1995. In 2002, after renovations, this impressive building reopened its doors as a campus of Kadir Has University.