"Copper Village"

bakir1Pedestrianized shopping street in Bakırköy with Armenian school in backgroundOld names: Hebdomon, Makrohori, Makriköy

Market: Saturday

As you drive into İstanbul from Atatürk Airport you will whisk through the outskirts of Bakırköy, a modern suburb that might not, on the surface, appear to have much to offer visitors.

Historically, though, this was once a hugely important point on the Via Egnatia, seven miles (11 km) from the Milion, the stone from which distances were measured on the edge of Sultanahmet Square.

It was here that the Emperor Valens (r. 364-378) built a seaside palace and it was here that the Byzantine emperors were crowned until 474 when Hagia Sophia took over the honour. There are no longer any traces of this palace, nor yet of the Campus Martius (Field of Mars), a large military training ground that was laid out here. Gone too are the limestone quarries that once supplied building stone for the city walls.bakir3Remains of Taş Okul (Stone School), old Greek Orthodox school, in back streets. It was originally built by the French in 1884.

The one thing that does survive from the Byzantine era is the oddity called the Fildamı (Elephant Stable), a large area surrounded by curvy brick walls that was built in the 5th century as a reservoir, probably to supply Valens' palace although it may also have been connected to other reservoirs, cisterns and aqueducts that still survive inside the Land Walls.

If you decide to take a look at the Fildamı you might also want to visit the nearby Veliefendi Hippodrome, Turkey's oldest race course where the Gazi Derby, named in honour of Atatürk is held every year on 28 June. The stadium was largely financed by the British Sir Loftus Bates (1863-1951) and the buildings were designed by Vedat Tek in 1922.

Otherwise, today's Bakırköy is mainly a residential and shopping area with just a smattering of 19th-century buildings dotted about, including Greek and Armenian churches and schoolhouses.

bakir2Restaurant of Sheraton HotelSleeping

Technically speaking the waterside at Bakırköy is actually part of Ataköy. No matter - it is home to a couple of fine hotels.

Ataköy Marina Hotel. Tel: 0212-560 4110

Sheraton Ataköy. Tel: 0212-560 8100

Trasnport info

Although there is a Metro station in Bakırköy it is nowhere near the main shopping area. That is served by the train station that was on the old suburban railway line and will presumably now become part of the Marmaray. The Fildamı and Veliefendi Hippodrome are closer to the Yenimahalle station on the same route.

Buses running along Kennedy Caddesi, the coast road) also run from Cankurtaran/Sultanahmet to Bakırköy.

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