Monday 20 February 2012

Istanbul Bosporus Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 4.9 km (3 miles), terrain flat except for a short hill-climb at the end
NOTE: I ran this in Istanbul's coldest winter in 30 years, dodging frozen puddles along the seawall. May your run be in more pleasant circumstances!

Istanbul running routes:
Istanbul Sultanahmet old town route
Istanbul Bosporus shore run 

For more running routes, see Routes List.

NOTE: The Sultanhamet route picks up along the water where this one ends.

Here's a route that compliments the other route in Istanbul's old-town Sultanahmet neighborhood. But this one spends more time in parks and along the Bosporus waterfront, letting you get away from the sometimes maddening bustle of the city.
Winter tourists at the obelisk
The route will start at the same spot as the other run, at the Egyptian obelisk on the Hippodrome. It will then curve through Gülhane Park, under the gaze of Topkapi Palace, then continues curving along the waterfront path, southwards, then westwards along the Bosporus, following the old city walls.

NOTE: see the Destinations Tips page for tips about spending your free time in this great town!
The waterfront is also Istanbul's most popular jogging track. It's the only place that I've seen other runners.

So, off we go, heading to the start, at that magnificent setting of the Hippodrome. Take a moment to experience the two obelisks, the chopped-off serpents' column, the Blue Mosque on one side, the Turkish and Islamic Art museum in the old Pasha's palace on the other side, and the Hagia Sophia (holy wisdom) in the distance.

Turn towards the north, looking at the red Hagia Sophia and start running. Further down the Hippodrome, you'll pass the German Fountain, donated by Kaiser Wilhelm II during his visit to Sultan Abdülhamid II in 1898.
Side view of Hagia Sophia
At the end of the Hippodrome, join the main street, Divan Yolu Caddesi, with the tram tracks and follow it downhill for a few hundred meters. You can see a small white column across the street, the only piece left of a triumphal arch that once marked the spot from which all distances were measured to the Byzantine capital (the milestone of the empire). Right behind it is the entrance to the impressive underground cistern, Yerebatan. Make sure you visit it sometime!

Running downhill next to the tram tracks, you'll see the old Topkapi walls straight ahead at the next curve. Run straight into the arched opening through the wall into Gülhane Park on the right.

Gülhane Park fountain
Once you're inside the iron park fence, you have a choice of following the main path as it curves slowly to the right, or take the side-path on the right side, just underneath the hilltop Topkapi palace grounds. Either way, this is a breath of fresh air for getting away from the mobs pushing through the streets, and the annoyingly aggressive sidewalk salesmen.

Higher path below Topkapi
You leave the park at the east end, where you need to cross the busy shore road, Kennedy Caddesi.

Now you turn right and start running along the Bosporus waterfront, with a view across to the Asian side. The traffic can be loud at times, but normally it's not too bad.
Foggy view northwards across Bosporus fishing boats and Europa Bridge
On the other side of Kennedy Caddesi, the ancient city walls line the whole route. Sometimes the walls are intact, other times in ruins. And sometimes you'll see gates and the remains of buildings built into the walls.
Monument to Admiral Piri Reis from water below Topkapi
You'll pass the lighthouse as the route curves westwards. Later you'll come to another modern shipping tower, with a radar antenna rotating on top, standing at a little harbor.

Heading to the lighthouse
Just past the radar tower, the space on the left opens up into a park, and you can head to the paved path directly along the water. It's a great spot, spoiled only by the plentiful garbage lying about, left by the local fishermen.

But we won't be running along the park for long. There is a round, white building along the street, then a gas station. Right after the gas station, cross back to the right to the street and run back to the traffic light to cross the street, run through the city walls and under the railroad bridge.

NOTE: the Sultanahmet route continues westwards along the water where this one heads back, if you want to hear how it looks further on, along the shore.

You are now running up Aksakal Caddesi, going uphill towards a curved, red-brick-lined embankment straight up the hill. The embankment is holding up the rounded, south end of the Hippodrome, and is the only part of it left standing.
Hippodrome embankment below Marmara University
When the street joins the embankment, turn right and continue heading uphill along the embankment. The buildings of Marmara University now occupy that south end above the embankment.

At the top, you'll come out at the Turkmenistan restaurant at the south end of the Hippodrome.

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