Climbing the Walls at Rumelihisari

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Istanbul, the only city in the world to span two continents- two cultures.  There’s no better place to see this phenomenon than at the formidable fortress of Rumeli.  It looms over one of the narrowest parts of the Bosphorus, at only 660 meters.  Built by Sultan Mehmet II in order to besiege Constantinople and wrest the power from Constantine XI, the fortress only took a little over four months to erect.  From there you can also see the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge which is the only way to drive from Europe to Asia as well.

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Rumeli is not on the main tourist track, because it’s not close to Sultan Ahmet and the likes of the Blue Mosque, and it doesn’t even have a fabulous museum.  What Rumelihisari does have is a great story, a sense of romanticism, and for those of us who like to scramble around old fortresses, plenty of walls, towers, and stairs.  It also has one of the best views in the entire world, one of Europe and Asia.  Who can beat that?

The Turks come to this area to eat a traditional kahvalti or breakfast.  There are many cafes at the base of the fortress that serve eggs (with various ingredients), bread, honey, and yogurt.  They will eat breakfast like this until at least 3:00 in the afternoon.  One of the most famous of these restaurants is the Kale Cafe.  We’ve eaten there a couple of times, and it’s pretty darn good.  If you go, ask to take a picture of their cay stand in the kitchen.

It really is pretty easy to get to Rumelihisari.  From bustling Eminonu, or any metro stop near the main tourist sites for that matter, take the metro towards Kabatas.  From there you have to cross the street to the buses and take the 22, 22RE,  or 25E.  These are all very frequent and you won’t have to wait more than five minutes.  Tell the bus driver as you get on where you are going and try to sit not too far from him.  He’ll take care of you and tell you where to get off if you happen to miss the not-too-tiny fortress. Rumelihisari costs 3 Tl. to get in and it’s closed on Wednesdays.

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