Istanbul is a magnificently unique city with its oriental fantasy skyline of domes and minarets and endless mazes of trinket stalls, jeweler shops, tailors and spice merchants in the old quarters. Its no wonder Ian Fleming, the author behind the James Bond series, considered it to be one of his favorite cities. This is why old quarter and several other iconic Istanbul locations have all been showcased in Bond films over the years. Find out how you can explore the city in the footsteps of 007 and visit the locations where some of the most famous Bond scenes were filmed.
1. Grand Bazaar
The Grand Bazaar is the beating heart of Istanbul with its maze like corridors and is where you can find everything from spices and dry fruits, to intricate mosaic lamps and bowls. This is also where Daniel Craig drove on a motorbike, chasing through the market lanes in the 2012 Bond film, Skyfall, while taking on daredevil rooftop stunts. Although you can't ride your own motorcycle through the bazaar, you can always browse through the amazing and intricate items on sale, and even get a taste of some Turkish delight while you're at it.
2. Hagia Sofia
This iconic Istanbul landmark is a place everyone immediately identifies with the city. The towering and beautiful structure of Hagia Sofia, built in the Middle Ages in 537 AD is something out of the movies, literally. You might recognize this monument as the place where James Bond, played by Sean Connery in 1963's From Russia With Love met Tatiana Romanova, the Soviet Embassy clerk. You can find out more about this grand cathedral turned mosque turned museum by checking out our guide.
This ancient historic structure is one of the largest out of the hundreds of cisterns that are scattered under the city of Istanbul. It was built in the 6th century during the rule of the Byzantine empire and to this day stands as a symbolic structure of Greek rule in Turkey. You will find two Medusa heads carved under two columns, but be careful not to look directly into her eyes! Legend has it, that looking at this Roman monster has the power to paralyze you. Luckily, that wasn't the case for James Bond in From Russia With Love played by Sean Connery. The cistern represented the 'Hall of Pillars' in Ian Fleming's book and this is where Bond listened to top secret conversations taking place in the Soviet consulate above.
4. Maiden's Tower
This floating tower 150-200 meters off the shore of the Salacak district in Üsküdar is a sight to see, especially at sunset. Although it is unclear, but the architectural style of Maiden's Tower suggests it was built around 340 BCE. Over the years since its creation, it has been used for various purposes such as tax collection from merchantmen, lighthouse and a defense outpost. It was also a part of the 1999 Bond film The World Is Not Enough starring Pierce Brosnan. In the film, the tower was shown as a former lighthouse in the Bosphorus strait where M was imprisoned. Today, you can visit this tower during the day and afterwards enjoy a cup of fresh Turkish coffee in the cafe.
You can visit all these 007 landmarks in Istanbul with ease by staying at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Istanbul Pera where you will be greeted with comfortable bohemian style rooms overlooking Istanbul's Golden Horn. Dine at the in-house Hamidi Restaurant that overlooks old Istanbul from its rooftop and serves various traditional Turkish delicacies to choose from.
Inspired to trace Agent 007's footsteps in Istanbul? Choose from one of the nine Radisson Blu hotels in the city and see them all!