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BLOG Guide to the Fatih Area of Istanbul

14 July 2022 / Travel


All About Fatih

Ah, the delightful Fatih area of Istanbul, Turkey. This prominent district puts Istanbul city on the global map. Altogether 39 districts make Istanbul Turkey’s most important place for tourism and real estate investment. But Fatih hosts the most international visitors since the district is Istanbul's bustling tourism hub. While other areas of Istanbul are bland and offer nothing in daily life, Fatih stands out with intrigue and exciting history that combines with modern trends. In recent years, the district has also attracted more home buyers looking for an authentic taste of Istanbul.

                                                About the Faith Area of Istanbul

1: Where is the Fatih District Located?

The location is strategic since the sea of Marmara, Bosphorus strait, and Golden Horn surround the peninsula. During Ottoman times, the Sultans ruled their empire from Fatih. In later years, they moved to Dolmabahce Palace in Besiktas. However, armies could easily ambush both locations via the Golden Horn, Bosphorus, or the Marmara Sea, so after disbanding the Ottoman empire in 1923, the new Turkish government moved the capital inland to Ankara.

Fatih Area Istanbul

2: How to Get to Fatih in Istanbul

For international travel, head to the new Istanbul airport, a 40-minute drive away. When arriving at the airport, take the Havas bus to Fatih. If you come via bus from other areas of Turkey, you will end up at the main Istanbul otogar in Bayrampasa, 30 minutes away. From there, catch connecting, smaller buses into Fatih. For car drivers, the E5 motorway is the closest.

3: Best Time to Visit

Since Fatih in Istanbul’s tourism hub, international and domestic travelers visit annually. Therefore, base your visit around your weather preferences. For example, July to September is the hottest, whereas from December to February, snowfall is sometimes seen. Therefore, to visit museums and tourist attractions, we recommend April to June or October to November since the weather is just right.

4: What Does the Name Fatih mean?

Fatih refers to the Ottoman ruler Fatih Sultan Mehmet, who conquered Istanbul in 1453. Since this was the Byzantine empire's capital, the Fatih district was the ultimate prize. Upon entering Fatih, many assumed the Sultan would destroy the Hagia Sophia church, the Byzantine Empire's gem. Yet, either in awe of her architecture or to snub the Byzantine Empire, he converted it into a mosque. Fatih is called "First Istanbul" or "Original Istanbul."

Visit Fatih Istanbul

5: History of the Fatih Area

The Fatih district was an important center for the Roman empire, the Byzantine Empire for 1058 years, and the Ottoman Empire for 469 years. Look at Byzantine history to discover certain events in Fatih, like the Nika riots, where many locals died. The byzantine empire aimed to recreate a new Rome by building Istanbul on seven hills, and Faith is where it all started. However, Fatih's colorful history revolves around the 1453 Ottoman conquest. After that, an earthquake in 1509 left much devastation.

But between 1520-1566, when Suleiman the Magnificent ruled, Fatih achieved much in terms of architecture, with new fountains, madrasas, caravanserais, and baths. The Golden Horn port rose to global fame as international trade took off. During the Tulip Era, the Fatih district experienced many innovations and changes. Then, during the Tanzimat era, new buildings were built in Western styles such as baroque, rococo, neogothic, and empire. After World War One, allied forces occupied Istanbul, including the Fatih district, and the Ottoman empire was eventually disbanded. Turkey’s war of independence reclaimed the city, and the government moved the capital to Ankara. Yet, Fatih still enjoys much fame and global attention.

6: Historical Attractions and Landmarks

There is much to see and do in Istanbul's Fatih district, but one place should be first. The Sultanahmet district is where the Byzantine and Ottoman empires ruled, and today, the landmarks they left behind are the top-visited, not only in Istanbul but in Turkey. They include the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Basilica cistern, Museum of Islamic arts, and Hippodrome. All can be seen in one day, although this will be rushed, so we recommend two days.

Other main sights to see in Fatih include

Grand Bazaar: Just a 20-minute walk away, the Grand Bazaar reflects life for everyday people. From the 15th century to now, workers toil, vendors complete trade deals, and money quickly change hands. The Grand Bazaar's status reflects its historical importance. Many royal buildings of ancient Constantinople became relics or museums, but if the bazaar were ever too close, Istanbul would never be the same.

Fener and Balat Neighbourhoods: The Guardian newspaper said, "The Fener-Balat quarter, once the little Greece of Istanbul, is now trendy but with the international feel of its history." Sitting side by side, these two historical neighborhoods, steeped in Jewish, Greek, and Armenian heritage, ideally introduce Istanbul's colorful history entwined with modern-day life. Notable landmarks in Fener include the Greek Orthodox church and nearby red-brick college. Meanwhile, get to know locals in Balat through small coffee shops and affordable eateries.

Sulmaniye Mosque: Sitting on Istanbul's third hill of Istanbul, the Suleymaniye mosque was constructed in 1550 for the Ottoman sultans by Suleiman the Magnificent. Once again, Mimar Sinan, the Ottoman's most celebrated architect, designed this landmark. Suleymaniye mosque holds Suleiman the Magnificent and his wife, Roxelana's mausoleums. Roxelana entered Topkapi Palace as a slave girl but became the Ottomans' most prominent woman. For nearly 500 years, Sulmaniye Mosque was Istanbul's largest religious building, with amazing views of the Golden Horn.

Gulhane Park: You may think that Fatih is all about old and new buildings. This would be forgiven since the district is central; however, for those who want to relax and seek out green spaces, head to Gulhane park, next to Topkapi Palace. On the western edge of the park is the Islamic Science and Technology History Museum. However, we particularly like it in April since thousands of tulips are planted to celebrate the annual festival, and the park comes alive with even more color.

Fatih Istanbul Turkey

Traditional Turkish baths in Fatih - Istanbul

Florence Nightingale, Omar Sharif, Tony Curtis, Cameron Diaz, Kate Moss, and John Travolta visited Cagaloglu Hamam. Open since 1741 and listed in the 1001 Places to Visit Before You Die travel book, this Turkish bath was constructed on a former palace site and featured baroque-style architecture, rarely used in Ottoman buildings of that time. Eight prominent columns also support the steam room’s giant dome. Still separating women and men, two different entrances lead to respective areas.

Meanwhile, uniquely employing female and male masseurs, Cemberlitas Hamam is ideal for shy women who want girls to do the looking and massage services. Located near the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, and Blue Mosque, Ottoman architect Miman Sinan built the Hamam in 1584. The main entrance, well below street level, leads to two separate dressing sections for men and women. Both roofs have large domes, a typical tell-tale sign of Sinan's work. The dome theme also features the steam room, uniquely built in a polygon shape, even though the room is square. The polygon formed by twelve columns has 38 washing basins; to douse yourself with cold water should it become too hot.

Living in Faith – Istanbul

Many Turks and foreigners look at buying property in Fatih. The esteemed reputation and nostalgia make the district stand out as a desirable place to live and work. The downside is that Fatih’s importance and lack of available land for the building have pushed prices up per square meter. This balances out, though, especially for buy-to-let investors who can tap into a tourism market on their doorstep and in terms of capital appreciation because Fatih’s reputation is set in stone. Everything is on the doorstep, including transport links and shopping facilities.

Also About Istanbul

About Us: We are Turkey homes, a real estate agent with offices in Istanbul and other parts of Turkey. Get in contact with us today if you would like to invest in real estate in the city. Alternatively, browse our portfolio of apartments and villas for sale in the Fatih district and other regions of Istanbul.

Istanbul Districts: Collectively, 39 districts spread over the European and Asian sides make up glorious Istanbul. Each diverse area offers something special, such as excellent shopping, lively nightlife scenes, or an ideal family neighborhood for home buyers. Twenty-five districts sit on the European side, and 14 rest on the Asian side.

Is Asian Istanbul Worth Visiting? For many decades, everyone ignored Asian Istanbul. Things changed in 1973 and 1988 when the Bosphorus and Fatih bridges were built. However, when independent travel took off, Asian Istanbul became popular. As home to one-third of Istanbul's population, Asian Istanbul also attracts more visitors who want to discover Istanbul away from well-known tourist areas. After visiting the Fatih area of Istanbul, be sure to put these places on your list.

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