Top Things To See And Do In Fatih, Istanbul

Maria Menegaki

Although it is usually considered one of the most conservative districts of Istanbul due to the religious community of Çarşamba, Fatih is actually quite cosmopolitan with a variety of things to do and see. Coinciding with historical Constantinople, it is now accepted as being the absolute must-visit area in the city. Check out our guide to find out what you shouldn’t miss.

Visit Fatih Mosque

Constructed between 1462 and 1470 by Mehmed the Conqueror who brought an end to the Ottoman Empire, Fatih Camii stands at the top of the highest hill and burial place of Byzantine emperors. Although the mosque you see today is not the same due to an earthquake, the current baroque-style structure does not lack in magnificence. After enjoying the lovely interior, move to Mehmed’s tomb, a popular place of worship, right behind it.

Buy a book

Next to the historical Bayezid Mosque, you will find the Sahaflar second-hand book market, drawing intellectuals and writers since the Ottoman times. If you are a book lover yourself, this charming market filled with used books, historical maps, ancient texts and other rare items is an absolute must-visit.

Wander around the Grand Bazaar

One of the largest and oldest covered markets worldwide, the Grand Bazaar attracts a huge number of visitors daily. Opened every day except Sunday, it has a legacy as the most colorful, chaotic and most fascinating place in the city offering a wide range of goods, from jewelry, carpets and ceramics to food and clothes. Even if you don’t want to buy anything, a day walking through the shops will surely awaken all your senses and reveal the romantic atmosphere of old Istanbul accompanied by a dose of authenticity.

The Egyptian Bazaar

Located in the Eminönü quarter of the district, the Egyptian or Spice Bazaar is filled with the scent of the exotic east. Stroll through the market to find some vividly colored spices, dried herbs and fruits, jams, nuts, coffee and Turkish delights. Do not miss the stalls on the west side selling food from all over Anatolia including an amazing selection of cheeses.

Discover Fener

Often confused with Balat, Fener used to be one of the neighborhoods of Istanbul’s Greek population, known as Phanariotes. Once the roads start narrowing and the slopes becoming steeper, you will have entered the historical quarter of Fener. Take a walk among curiously shaped houses, watch locals in their everyday life and pay a visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, one of the main centers of Christianity as well as the Cathedral of St. George. Fener’s cultural wealth and importance wait to be discovered.

Wander through Samatya

Samatya, meaning “sandy place,” will not be found on most maps, since its modern name is Mustafapasa. Similar to Fener in terms of history and beauty, this is a favorite spot for Turkish film directors. A place where Turks, Greeks, Armenians and Jews used to peacefully coexist, it’s still a multicultural hub. Keep your eyes open for the numerous churches, ancient monasteries and places of worship and seek out some traditional wooden Armenian houses before visiting the picturesque local fish market.

Dine with a view

Are you one of those travelers who adores discovering venues with spectacular features? Then the rooftop seafood restaurant at the Seven Hills Hotel is the ideal place for you. Overlooking the best view of the magical Sultanahmet, it gives you the chance to see most of the city’s landmarks from your dining seat. The breathtaking sunsets along with the authentic local flavors provide the best setting for a last goodbye to the city.

Explore Sultanahmet

This is probably the best place for sightseeing. Sultanahmet, hosting the Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, and the Blue Mosque, among others, will amaze you with its historic treasures and incredible pieces of architecture. After visiting the main attractions, stop by one of the excellent Turkish hamams.

Attend a performance

Beautifully converted from an old hamam, Hodjapasha Cultural Center is a dance theater not to be missed. Attend the Whirling Dervish ceremony called Sema, held every evening for a sense of enchanting religious mysticism. If this is not your cup of tea, choose the high-quality performance of Turkish folk music and belly dance.

Get creative

They say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. The Museum of Garbage displays pieces of garbage found around the city, from cigarette butts and crushed cans to crumpled newspapers, along with explanations of their life cycle and value. Learn how you can manage your domestic waste for a cleaner environment with some useful practical advice, get creative with objects that are usually thrown away and see ordinary trash in a whole new light.

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