Considering all the fuss made recently about the new Metro bridge across the Golden Horn, it's extraordinary to think that in the 1930s it was possible to build the Atatürk Bridge across the Golden Horn right beside the Sinan-designed Azapkapı Cami, a work of Sinan designed for the grand vizier Sokollu Mehmed Paşa in 1577. Only huge protests prevented the authorities from having the mosque ripped down to make way for it. 

Still the damage done to its setting was as nothing to what is happening now as the new Golden Horn bridge shapes up on the other side of it, leaving in marooned in between the two. 

The Sinan mosque aside, Azapkapı is not a part of town likely to attract many visitors who will have grown tired of counting the myriad hardware shops running all the way along Yab. S Evren Caddesi from Karaköy Meydanı long before they get to the bridge. If you do visit, however, you will find one or two other monuments of passing interest to distract you.

Around Azapkapı

Designed by Sinan for the grand vizier Sokollu Mehmed Paşa in 1577, the Azapkapı Cami deserves to get more attention than its crummy location encourages. Like the Rüstem Paşa Cami in Tahtakale the Azapkapı Cami was built on a platform of shops, an arasta whose rents would support the maintenance of the mosque. Today none of them is in use. The mosque also featured an unusual minaret which is attached to the mosque by what looks otherwise like a buttressing arch. 

Right beside the mosque is the Saliha Valide Hatun Çeşmesi, one of İstanbul's most splendid fountains, built in 1733 for the mother of Sultan Mahmud I. 

As so often, the mosque was once part of a complex most of which has long since vanished. On the far side of the road the inconsequential Yeşildirek Hamamı was once part of this complex although it has been completely rebuilt over the centuries. 

Overshadowed by the Metro construction work a wretched stretch of wall running down to the water appears to be one of the last remaining pieces of the wall that once completely enclosed the Genoese enclave of Galata. If you cross over the bus main road and strike inland you may be able to get to another stretch of the wall which still retains the heraldic carvings over the gateway that were such a feature of Genoese architecture. However, when I lasted visited the building work was making it hard to get close to the gate. 

Transport info

Once the new Metro line is complete it will probably be easy to get to this area from the new Unkapanı station. Failing that, many buses plough up and down Yab S Evren Caddesi.

Nearby areas

Atatürk Bulvarı



Read more abut the Genoese in İstanbul: http://www.turkeyfromtheinside.com/blogbloggingaboutturkey/entry/16-seeking-the-genoese-in-istanbul.html

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