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Laleli and Aksaray Istanbul

Laleli and Aksaray Istanbul
The district of Laleli has many foreign inhabitants such as Iranian refugees and Arab students and more recently Russian and East Europeans who seemingly buying anything that the Turks have to sell.

Both places have a very different atmosphere than you will find elsewhere in Istanbul. The area is known for its import and export of cheap shoes, clothes, textiles and leather, attracting hordes of shoppers from Eastern Europe and has gained a reputation as a centre for criminality and probably not the best place to visit at night.

The best sights to see in both Laleli and Aksaray are off the main streets.

Laleli Mosque

The Laleli Mosque built from 1760–1763 by Mustafa III (and who is buried there) was designed in the baroque style by Ottoman imperial architect Mehmet Tahir Ağa. Destroyed by a fire in 1783, shortly after its completion, it was immediately rebuilt. The baroque elements can be seen on the ramps (used by the sultan to get to his tier), the grand staircases, window grilles on Mustafa III tomb, and also in the eaves of the drinking fountain in the centre of the great hall which is supported by enormous pillars. Outside the mosque is used as a covered market selling cheap clothes and at the back of the complex is another smaller covered market the Taşhan, originally built in 1793 as an inn for entertaining the guests of Mustafa III. The building has since been restored into a two tiered bazaar with restaurants in the vaults below.

Aqueduct of Valens

The recently renovated Valens Aqueduct was originally built in the late 4th century waterworks programme by the Emperor Valens. It was part of the distribution network that included various cisterns around the city and reservoirs in the Belgrade Forest and was still in use up to the end of the 19th century.
Kept in good repair and well maintained meant there was a constant supply of water both during drought and sieges. Originally 1000m of which 600m still stands and it reaches a height of 18.5m.

Kalenderhane Mosque

The Kalenderhane Mosque or Camii is a 9th century Byzantine church once named Kyriotissa and renamed by the Kalender dervishes after its conquest who then converted it into a monastery. It has a typical Byzantine cruciform ground plan with the marble revetment and sculptures still in place and extensive frescoes in the crypt.

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Church of Constantine Lips (Fenari Isa Mosque)

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