The neighborhood of Eminönü, at the heart of Istanbul’s old town of Fatih district is perhaps the busiest and liveliest area in all of Istanbul.
With the city crowning pride of magnificent sites, Hagia Sophia, Topkapı Palace, Blue Mosque encompassing the popular Sultanahmet Square, both tourists and residents are always seen wandering around the many streets that make up this vibrant quarter, on both day and night.
Whether you fancy for a walk along the narrow roads using the parallel tram line as your navigation or wanting to try Turkish ice cream, or looking for restaurants that served the best fish kebab, Eminönü is one of the best place to experience Istanbul’s many delights. Both Egyptian Spice Bazaar and Grand Bazaar are here too, adding more character to the already fascinating area.
But all roads lead to no other than Eminönü Square. This is the beating heart of the neighborhood and where you can truly feel that you are in Istanbul.
At Eminönü Square, the tram stops, the ferry docks and the people congregate, for an afternoon chat, a leisurely stroll, to sample Balık ekmek (fish sandwich) at the many restaurants under the bridge.
Connecting the district of Fatih and Beyoğlu, over the Golden Horn, is Galata Bridge.
By far the most pleasurable experience where I don’t need to queue or pay for any entrance fee is walking the bridge end to end.
Strolling the bridge made me feel less of a tourist as I made my way from Eminönü to the neighborhood of Karaköy, stopping several times to photograph and watch several local anglers trading their fishing lines to the water below.
Together with the many Istanbullus who made the bridge walk as part of their daily routine going to and from the old and the new district of Istanbul, I finally made my way to the other end of Galata Bridge and into the neighborhood of Karaköy.
Popularly known today as Istanbul’s coolest neighborhood, mostly due to street arts, colorful staircases, quirky shops and trendy cafes, Karaköy is the destination to head to when you want to see a 360 view of Istanbul.
Climbed the steep hillside of Karaköy along the street named Yüksek Kaldırım and it will lead to the popular Galata Tower (Galata Kulesi).
Nowadays, Galata Tower is one of the most visited landmark in the city and due to its popularity, you may find yourself queuing for an hour or so to get in, but the effort is worth it because the view from the observation deck is truly one of the best.