Aqueducts of Istanbul
Driving & Walking Tour with Serif Yenen or one of his colleagues from the Serif Yenen Private Guides Team.
Throughout history Constantinople has always lacked sufficient fresh water sources. That’s why, starting from Late Antiquity, extensive systems of aqueducts were built to help supply water to the growing population of the city. This system also included a large number of cisterns that stored water supplied by aqueducts.
The Aqueduct of Valens is one of the most impressive Byzantine structures of modern Istanbul.
Constantinople never matched the water supply of the city of Rome, which had eleven aqueducts. Nevertheless it involved some of the most remarkable engineering of antiquity, including the longest aqueduct system of the ancient world. Originating in Thrace, it brought water from over 120 kilometers away, on perhaps more than 550 km of channels.
Hadrian’s line seems to correspond with the main Ottoman water supply channel the Kırkçeşme system that brought water from the Belgrade Forest and entered the city just north of Kaligaria Gate (Eğri Kapı).
Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II ordered work on the aqueduct system to supply shortly after capturing Constantinople in 1453. It seems that the ruins of Byzantine aqueducts were still prominent when he began to rebuild the water systems, making it unclear how much was restored or rebuilt.
Mehmed II redeveloped the water system in Halkalı to supply the Aqueduct of Valens (Bozdoğan Kemeri). He also redeveloped part of the water system in the Belgrade Forest, using the water sources on the southern bank of the Cebecikoy Stream. This system was known as Kırkçeşme (Turkish “forty fountains”).
The most impressive Ottoman water system was the Kırkçeşme water supply system that was restored and expanded by Architect Sinan between 1554 and 1563. This system, which brought large quantities of water from the Belgrade Forest on the north side of the city, was the biggest to be built during the Ottoman period.
It seems that Süleyman the Magnificent (1520-1566) commissioned this water system after noticing water leaking from an old aqueduct when hunting around the Kağıthane Stream. During his reign increases in Constantinople’s population were causing water shortages in the city. Architect Sinan’s system collected water from the branches of the Kağıthane Stream in the Belgrade Forest, partly using the old Roman water channels as a guide.
This huge water supply system had 55 kilometers of channels and 33 aqueducts, five of which were monumental with several tiers of arches.
During the reign of Mahmud I (1730-1754), a new aqueduct system known as Taksim supplied Pera (Galata) with water. It consisted of two aqueducts, the Sultan Mahmud and Bahçeköy. Taksim Square is named after the Taksim Maksemi, as its water distribution chamber is located there.
The tour program will rather focus on some of these picturesque aqueducts scattered around just outside of Istanbul. There will be good photo opportunities and a lunch stop (not included in the price) at a restaurant with good local food.
Come join us to discover the Aqueducts of Istanbul located outside the Old City Walls.
Aqueducts of Istanbul – Program Summary
(There may be changes in the program)
- The tour will start from your hotel.
- Orientation and short intro about the Byzantine and Ottoman history.
- Aqueduct of Güzelce (Güzelce Kemer)
- Aqueduct of Egri (Eğri Kemer)
- Lunch at a restaurant (lokanta) with good local food.
- Aqueduct of Maglova (Mağlova Kemeri)
- Aqueduct of Uzun (Uzun Kemer)
- Aqueduct of Valens (Bozdoğan Kemeri)
- The tour will end either at your hotel or anywhere you like to be dropped off on the way back to the hotel.
- Let us remind you that there will be some walks and climbs in the wilderness. Hiking shoes will help.
- Private tour only for you, no other participants.
- Discover some of the unknown or lesser-known places that spread out far from the city center.
- Lunch break will be at a very good casual local restaurant with traditional food
- Catch picturesque instants with your camera.
Meeting Point and Time:
- As this is a private tour only for you with no other participants, we can start the tour anytime you like.
- The tour will start from your hotel and end either at your hotel or anywhere you like to be dropped off on the way back to the hotel.
- This tour is available everyday.
Duration of the Tour:
- It will take about 6-7 hours.
- The price is $325.00 USD per person (Minimum 2 participants).
- Children up to the age of 6 are free.
- For the confirmation of the tour, we will kindly ask you to make online payment by clicking on “BOOK NOW” button on this page.
What is Included?
- Professional tour guide services by Serif Yenen or one of his team members.
- Orientation and introduction about the Byzantine and Ottoman history
- Some complimentary copies of Serif’s publications.
- Transportation in a private van.
- Tea/coffee breaks.
- Entrance fees and costs to the places to be visited.
What is not Included?
- Personal expenses
- Gratuity to the guide (optional)
This tour is operated by A-group Travel Agency “Serif Yenen Travel” licensed by the Turkish Ministry of Tourism (Licence number: 8860)