Lonely Planet review for Büyük Çamlica
The term megalopolis is bandied about a fair bit to describe İstanbul, but it’s only when you come to a spot like this that it becomes meaningful. Larger than many sovereign states, the city sprawls further than the eye can see, even when afforded this bird’s-eye view. And what a view it is! A hilltop park with a crown of pine trees, Büyük Çamlıca is the highest point in the city and can be seen from miles away (you’ll see it as you ferry down the Bosphorus, for example). It’s beloved by İstanbullus, who flock here to relax, picnic in the pretty gardens, enjoy a snack or glass of tea at the Çamlıca Restaurant and gaze upon their fine city. From the terraces you’ll see the minaret-filled skyline of Old İstanbul, as well as the Bosphorus winding its way to the Black Sea. Once favoured by Sultan Mahmut II (r 1808–39), by the late 1970s the park was an unkempt car park threatened by illegal and unplanned construction. In 1980 the municipal government leased the land to the Turing group, which landscaped the hilltop and built a restaurant that Mahmut might have enjoyed. The municipal government took over management of the park in 1995. To reach the hilltop from Demokrasi Meydanı, you can take a taxi (about TL9) all the way to the summit or bus 9UD from the bus station to the bus stop near the corner of Turistik Çamlica Caddesi; the park entrance is only a short walk north. Alternatively, you can take a Ümraniye-headed dolmuş from the rank in front of the Yeni Valide Mosque and ask to be dropped at Büyük Çamlica; this will pass the entrance to Küçük Çamlıca and drop you off shortly thereafter in a district called Kısıklı. The walk uphill (pleasant but no great views) following the signs to the summit takes 20 to 30 minutes.