You go down towards Taksim square – this is the very center of the area – and stop at the monument, representing people. This is the monument of Independence, the founder of Turkey – Ataturk is displayed there with his companions.
Orient on the monument - it is in the very center of the square and the region. Diagonally from the monument there is a broad street with many people but no transport. This is Istiklal avenue.
This is the concentration of bars, restaurants, cafes, clubs, cult houses, brand shops, cinemas, the place of youth, musicians', tourists' and artists' hangouts. Sometimes a tourist tram drives along Istiklal. This is the only kind of transport, allowed on this street. It drives VERY slowly and gives preventing signals to the passers by, so don't be afraid of getting into a road traffic accident. By the both sides of Istiklal there are the ancient consulates and embassies, temples... For example, the catholic church of Saint Antthony – the largest catholic church of the city. The entrance is free. In 40 meters from the church there is the catholic temple of Mary Draperis. We recommend you to walk all along Istiklal, which descends to the the Galata tower. Raising to its observation point on a high-speed lift costs 11 liras. On the top there is a cafe and if you are afraid of height, you should better enjoy the view from there than from the observation point.
At the exit from the tower go to the left and down to the tram tracks. Cross the pedestrian underpass. You are at the tram stop. Buy a token for driving tram in wicket or in token selling machine. It costs 1,75 liras. Put the token into a slot on ticket barrier. Wait for green index, pass the ticket barrier. Enter the stop, from where the tram drives towards Sultanahmet area (see sign board). Get into the tram and wait for your stop (subway map is above every door in every car). You will pass the Galata bridge, then the ancient part of Istanbul starts.
BY THE WAY: If you don't have the time to visit Istiklal or you have already been there, you can get to Sultanahmet in a different way. Enter the subway from the part of Istiklal (the stop is right there) and take a wire-rope road. From the route terminal of the wire-rope road you should pass the subway and get to Kabatas stop. From there the subway goes to Sultanahmet. So stop is called so – Sultanahmet. So, you are in Sultanahmet.
Right at the stop (a little lower) – Hagia Sophia. This is one of the four largest temples of the world. The tickets for its attendance are sold in the box office at the entrance. The museum works every day, except Monday. The ticket costs 20 liras. Don't be in a hurry in the temple: survey the first floor attentively, the dents on the floor, caused by the feet of the Norman guards, the bowl, in which princess Olga was christened, royal gates. Then go up to the second floor to admire the Byzantine wall paintings, mosaics, and the very temple from above. Having left Hagia Sophia you cross the road with tram tracks (about 10 meters) and you are at a small ancient building. The main thing is inside. This is the underground reservoir Yerebatan, the giant underground space, sewn with antique columns, in the waters of which there is live fish splashing. There is a restaurant here, and you can walk on special scaffolding. The entrance to Yerebatan costs 10 liras.
Having left Yerebatan, you are at the tram tracks, this time – opposite Hagia Sophia. Approach it. Stand with your back to the temple. Do you see a giant mosque in front of you? This is the Blue Mosque, built by sultan Ahmed I. Go towards it through a small square with benches. On the way you may want to have a cup of tea or “salep” drink from sellers, dressed in national costumes (1-2 liras, depending on the season). In the yard of the Blue Mosque you will admire the architecture of the temple and you will enter it. Take off your shoes and put it into a bag that you will be given at the entrance. Women get nice turquoise kerchiefs to cover their head and shoulders if they are naked. The entrance to the mosque is free. If you see that there is the praying time in the mosque, wait in the yard (there are things to see there also), till it's over. In the mosque you can wash your feet (in a special fountain) and visit WC (it is free here). Leaving the mosque, turn your back to it and go towards Hagia Sophia.
At the small paved square (right in front of the temple's fence) turn to the right. Look at the marble palace, standing half in the ground. This is the Palace of Constantine – the founder of Constantinople. The palace is still being dug out by archaeologists, the bigger part is already seen. Take a position in which the palace will be on your right. The huge bond gates are in front of you in about 50 meters. Go to them and you are welcome at Topkapi palace. It is not just a palace, it is a huge complex. Pass the first gates for free and enter the park territory.
Behind the gates on your left hand – ancient Christian temple of Istanbul. The church of St. Irene, founded in the 4th century. Constantine the Great was praying here. Go round the church and take a look at that part which was under the ground (it is dug out now). Knock the door before you enter. Sometimes tourists are let to this territory, but most of the time the temple is closed because it is not renovated yet. From the church of St. Irene go to the information boards and to the main entrance (about 20-30 meters). There you can buy a ticket for 20 liras and with that ticket you can visit all the halls of the complex – armory, kitchens, harem. Do not forget to take some pictures on the upper terrace against the background of the Bosphorus. This is the most amazing view of the strait in the whole city. Sultans lived in Topkapi palace for 300 years for a reason. Remember, the palace is closed on Tuesdays.
Leaving the palace, go back to a square, where the tickets are on sale, right in front of the second (inner) entrance. Stand with your back to the palace. Then go down and to the right. Pass about 50 meters and you will reach the Archaeological museum territory (the entrance ticket costs 10 liras). There are three halls, in which there are collected more than 1 million of exhibits. Alexander the Great tomb, Pharaohs mummies, Hittite lions, ancient statues, Ottoman porcelain...Spend more time for visiting Archaeological museum, it's worth it. Leaving the museum, go downstairs – and you will reach Gulhane park ( entrance free).
Leaving the park, go to the tram stop, which is on your side. Ride to the terminal point Kabatas, alight from the tram through the left door and then to the pedestrian underpass. Pass first ticket barrier for free, turn to the left and put a token into a slot on then exit ticket barrier. You are on FUNIKULYR stop. Get in a wagon and lift up. Alight from the wagon and then to the right. Pass the first ticket barrier for free, go straight. In front of you – a moving staircase. Lift on it up. Go out on the street. You are in the heart of Taksim, Taksim Square.
We will go shopping today. Go to Taksim Square. Get down to the pedestrian underpass. Put a token into a slot on ticket barrier (1.75 liras for a token) and go inside, get in a train which will stop under MECDIYEKOY sign board. Your stop – the second one from the place where you are now. It is named Mediyekoy. Alight from the wagon and follow the sign boards CEVAHIR. It is the shopping mall with a special entrance from the subway. CEVAHIR – one of the biggest shopping malls in Europe.
After shopping get down to the underpass and follow the sign boards TAKSIM. Get in a wagon and alight from it at the terminal point. Then go up. You are at Taksim Square.
If you want some entertainment in the evening, go to Taksim Square and go to the left from it, to the pedestrian Istiklal Avenue. There are lots of clubs, cafes, and restaurants.
Today we are going to visit one of the most luxurious palaces in the world, Dolmabahce palace.
Get down to the subway on Taksim Square and ATTENTION – go to FUNIKULYR stop there. Funicular is the underground wire-rope way, which connects the Bosphorus shore (Kabatas) with the center of Taksim. Get down from Taksim hill on a funicular, go to the left, pass 50 meters and you will see a mosque and a palace next to it. They both are named Dolmabahce (Dolmabahce mosque and Dolmabahce palace). You can visit the mosque for free (don't forget to take your shoes off and to cover your hair if you are a woman). Then go towards the palace. First of all you will pass metal detector, then when you get to the inner yard, buy the ticket in the box office which will be on your left. The ticket costs 15 liras, it allows to visit the guest part of the palace. If you want to visit the harem part too, it will cost you 20 liras. The palace is closed on Mondays and Thursdays. Right after visiting the palace you can go back to the tram stop (Kabatas) and then to the pier, from there you get on a small ship and have a sail along the Bosphorus (two times a day, 10:30 and 14:45). Price for one person is 12.5 liras.
After the sail you land on a pier and go to Kabatas stop (it is seen). Get down to the pedestrian underpass and get in a funicular wagon. After lifting up alight from the wagon, go up through the moving staircase. You are at Taksim Square.