Hiking the Land Walls
The land walls cut through a fascinating area of the city that differs significantly from the primary tourist centers, lending a far different perspective on daily life in this city of 15 million. Climbing the walls, however, was the highlight of our trek (yes, you can even climb the ramparts in some sections!), offering stunning views of the massive sprawl that is Istanbul in the 21st century.
From the top of the ramparts, you can see all the way to Levent and Maslak, Istanbul’s two booming financial districts which are located some ten kilometers (six miles) to the northeast and are virtually invisible from the Old City. Istanbul is so sprawled out that it’s hard to fathom anyone ever coming close to exploring it all in a lifetime.
In addition to the amazing views and unique interaction with physical history, walking the length of the land walls also offers a glimpse into Istanbul’s meteoric rate of gentrification. Our route began in a relatively run down area of town, but within blocks transformed into brand new luxury townhouses with high-end supermarkets, restaurants, and other fashionable amenities.
In many ways, exploring the land walls is a perfect way to wrap up a stay in Istanbul, immersing yourself in the city’s ancient past while gaining insight into Istanbul’s future.