Florya is a neighborhood in Istanbul with a nice quiet seaside park area and a beach. It’s one of the few beaches in Istanbul I would actually feel comfortable swimming at. There are a couple highlights worth visiting if you have extra time, but no must-sees. I spent an afternoon with Isaac in this area located very close to Atatürk International Airport. We were both pleasantly surprised with what we found.
First, we visited the Florya Atatürk Deniz Köşkü (Florya Atatürk Marine Mansion). It’s a unique house built on Florya Beach over the Marmara Sea on piles driven into the seabed, specifically for the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. It was built in 1935 by architect Seyfi Arkan with the aim of getting Atatürk his health back, and it was used for three summers as a home and office. Atatürk received high-profile guests at the house and also conducted scientific experiments inside. Later, it was used by several Turkish presidents as a summer home. It opened as a museum in 1993.
The inside of the mansion is extremely detailed in every way. Each piece of furniture and every accessory down to the silverware and light fixtures were selected specifically for design harmony, much like a Frank Lloyd Wright home. The mansion was built in the Bauhaus style.
The Florya Atatürk Deniz Köşkü is accessible via guided tour only, and no photographs are allowed inside. There’s a small admission fee, but Isaac and I were given the reduced Turkish price. The full admission is well worth it. It’s closed on Mondays and Thursdays, but open on other days from 8:30am to 5pm.
I have to take a second to tell you about our guide, who Isaac and I immediately named “Turkish John Malkovich“. This guy looked and sounded just like Malkovich, only with broken English. He even had some of the mannerisms that I’m used to seeing in Malkovich’s movies. Proof? It’s in the picture below.
Turkish John Malkovich was clearly drinking the kool-aid, and a lot of it. He claimed that this mansion was the greatest architectural feat in the history of mankind, but nobody knows about it because every single nation is jealous of the Turkish Republic and is trying to keep their innovations unknown. He also told us architects from all over the world flew to Istanbul specifically to see this mansion and wept at the very sight of it.
To be fair, his enthusiasm and flair for the dramatic actually made the tour more interesting and entertaining. He was extremely friendly and very knowledgable about the mansion and it was obvious he really loved his job. At the end of the tour, he gave Isaac and I about 30 brochures each and told us to tell everyone we know about it (this post is my contribution). Apparently, they don’t get too many visitors other than school groups.
After the mansion, we walked about 20 minutes to the Aqua Florya AVM and had lunch in the food court. It’s a very nice mall with some upscale stores and a decent food court. From the terrace, we were able to watch the planes land at Atatürk International Airport.
Attached to the mall is the İstanbul Akvaryum, the largest thematic aquarium in the world. Adult admission is 59TL (as of October 2016) but there are affordable family pass options. Add-ons include 5D movies and labyrinths.
The aquarium is nicely constructed with several different themes including the Bosporus, Marmara Sea, Black Sea, Aegean Sea, Atlantic Ocean, and the Amazon River. Each one features a huge tank with several species of fish. You “travel” from one part of the world to another via a very organized route. I’ll let you enjoy the pictures of the aquarium:
To get to this part of Florya, there are several options. It’s a bit out of reach from the main part of Florya, but the easiest way besides a taxi is to take one of the direct buses from Eminönü (BN1 and BN2). There is a bus stop right in front of the aquarium.
Once the Marmaray rail line is done there will be stops nearby. Florya is right in front of the Atatürk Marine Mansion, and Yeşilköy is about a 15 minute walk from the Aquarium to the east.
If visiting the aquarium, you can take a free shuttle from Taksim, Sultanahmet, or the Sirkeci Marmaray station. Tickets for the aquarium must be purchased at the departure point from Mihar Tour.