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A walk on the tracks of James Bond in Istanbul

By: Rob Coppinger
Published:
2014-05-05
Istanbul has been a destination for James Bond 007 for three of his on-screen adventures, from Sean Connery’s From Russia with Love (1963), to Pierce Brosnan’s The World Is Not Enough (1999), and most recently Daniel Craig’s Skyfall (2012) (2012).

From Sweden with Love contributor Rob Coppinger (Editor of Air Cargo Week) recently had the chance to spend some time in the ancient city that spans the European and Asian sides of the Bosphorus river. This is his guide to seeing the sights and sites, of some of Skyfall’s pre-title sequence and other movie locations.

Skyfall opens with Bond walking into a hotel room, the location of which is not clear, and discovering a fellow agent mortally wounded while an important hard drive has been taken. Bond follows a possible exit route for his stricken agent’s attacker and it leads him to a street in an unknown city.

Skyfall Istanbul Skyfall James Bond location
This is the view from within that doorway. Now a location for street sellers selling cheap leather goods, the location is a junction a short distance from other Skyfall scenes. The junction is where the roads Sultan Hamami, Vakif Hani, Buyuk Postane and Arpacilar meet.

Skyfall Istanbul Skyfall James Bond location
As Bond exits the hotel, a Land Rover swings into view to 007’s left, in front of this shop.

Skyfall Istanbul Skyfall James Bond location
Driven by the fellow agent, Eve (played by Naomie Harris), Bond climbs into the car and as it pulls away we see this café briefly.

Skyfall Istanbul Skyfall James Bond location
The Land Rover is now driving up Buyuk Postane chasing a black Audi in which the villain, Patrice (Ola Rapace), is driving away with the hard drive.

Skyfall Istanbul Skyfall James Bond location
The cars then turn right into this street, which rises up to meet the street parallel to Buyuk Postane, Asir Efendi.

Skyfall Istanbul Skyfall James Bond location
At this point it is not clear what roads the Audi and Bond and Eve’s Land Rover take during the chase until they drive past the motorcycle police men. At this point they enter what is the rear area of Eminonu square, where the New Mosque is. A tourist spot and well marked on maps of Istanbul, this mosque was built in the 17th century. Changed to look like part of a market, Bond and Eve catch up with the Audi and ram it into steps to flip it on to its side.

Skyfall Istanbul Skyfall James Bond location
Careering to a stop, Eminönü square has been made to look like a market and with the New Mosque as the backdrop a gun fight breaks out.

Skyfall Istanbul Skyfall James Bond location
Patrice grabs a motorbike and makes his escape, with Bond in pursuit, they race off up the left hand side of the square. Eve pursues them both, driving up the right hand side of the square, back the way she came.

Skyfall Istanbul Skyfall James Bond location
The film then cuts to Patrice driving up an Istanbul backstreet and through an archway. This is that archway.

Skyfall Istanbul Skyfall James Bond location
The film then cuts to Bond in pursuit, and this is the street you see in that shot, which is the same street Patrice was in.

Skyfall Istanbul Skyfall James Bond location
These locations are close to the Grand Bazaar, another tourist destination in Istanbul. Istanbul is a city on hills and it’s a walk uphill in streets filled with crowds to reach this area. To reach this area from Eminonu square, walk back to the rear of the square to find Yeni Cami road. Follow this until you turn left into Hoca Hani. Walking up Hoca Hani take the first left into Haci Kucuk street and keep going until you reach Cakmakcilar. Follow this street upwards and you should find the archway around where Tarakcilar street meets Cakmakcilar.

The next shots seen in the chase sequence confuse an actual route, which begins with the archway. The next shot is of Bond and Patrice driving through gates. This is that gate.

Skyfall Istanbul Skyfall James Bond location
It is reached through this square, which is reached via that archway. Bond and Patrice enter the square via the entrance on the far left.

Skyfall Istanbul Skyfall James Bond location
In the film it cuts to view the other side of the square and the shop Cardini is in view.

Skyfall Istanbul Skyfall James Bond location
Patrice appears to drive through the square’s exit and is blocked by a car, so he drives up some stairs. Below is a picture of the archway/tunnel, but from the other side of the blocking car. This is what you eventually see after you walk through the earlier archway with the words Büyük Valid Han above it.

Skyfall Istanbul Skyfall James Bond location
When you walk through the archway with the words Büyük Valid Han above it, the first thing you see is this.

Skyfall Istanbul Skyfall James Bond location
Going back to the stairs Patrice and then Bond drive up, this is those stairs. The Wappi Pantolon shop and its signs have gone, as has the concrete which appeared to cover much of the lower steps of those stairs.

Skyfall Istanbul Skyfall James Bond location
In the film the scene cuts to what is actually at the top of the stairs. However, this does not lead to the roof of the Grand Bazaar. It is actually a level of workshops around the square. This is the view from the upper level across nearby roof tops.

Skyfall Istanbul Skyfall James Bond location
Bond chases Patrice across the roof top of the Grand Bazaar and Patrice crashes through a window which sees him land inside the Bazaar. Walking around the Bazaar there are no windows large enough or in the position seen in the film, which could have a man and motorbike smash through. This could have been a fake Bazaar area created in a studio. With Bond and Patrice both inside the Bazaar the chase continues, but it is not clear what area within the Bazaar they are driving through.

Skyfall Istanbul Skyfall James Bond location
In Sean Connery's second Bond film, 007 is met at the airport by his contact and is driven to the Grand Bazaar. We see Bond walk through part of the Bazaar before he meets MI6’s local agent, Kerim Bey.

Skyfall Istanbul Skyfall James Bond location
In Skyfall, following the Bazaar bike chase, the film cuts to Eve in the Land Rover and MI6 headquarters. The motorways and the bridge that Bond and Eve chase Patrice to are likely on the Asian side of Istanbul as there is no train line or bridge on the city’s European side near the historic area that is Eminönü square and the Grand Bazaar.

Pierce Brosnan’s Bond film used the Maiden Tower, a small island in the Bosphrus, as a location. This is close to the Asian side of the Bosphorus and some distance from the historic areas seen in Skyfall. In Connery’s film, a number of Istanbul locations are used including a river cruise and the Basilica Cistern, which was built in the 6th century. In FRWL Bond and Kerim enter the Cistern via a secret door in Kerim's Grand Bazaar office. In reality the Cistern is some distance from the Bazaar and is in fact a cross the road from the Hagia Sophia, the 6th century Greek Orthodox basilica church that became a Mosque in the 15th century.

Skyfall Istanbul Skyfall James Bond location
Later in FRWL Bond visits the Hagia Sophia where Tatiana Romana, the Russian spy who says she loves 007, is to pass to him plans for the Russian embassy in Istanbul. A major tourist attraction, like the Cistern, this is highlighted on tourist maps of the city.

Skyfall Istanbul Skyfall James Bond location
Skyfall Istanbul Skyfall James Bond location
Istanbul, once called Constantinople by the Romans, is a vast city of 14 million people spanning the European and Asian sides of the Bosphorus river with centuries of history to experience. Perhaps like 007, you may wish to take a Bosphorus cruise, and there are many boats to choose from, some of which have viewing decks at the back, akin to the steam powered tour boat upon which Tatiana gives Bond a description of the Soviet encryption machine he is there to steal.

Skyfall Istanbul Skyfall James Bond location
After three films, the mix of ancient and eastern that makes up Turkey’s largest city will no doubt still see James Bond return.

Editor's note:
For other James Bond locations listed on From Sweden with Love, click here.

Written by Rob Coppinger. © 2014 From Sweden with Love.

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