Top 10 Movies in Istanbul

Istanbul, a metropolis spanning two continents and the site of countless civilizations throughout history, also draws attention as a unique visual backdrop for international filmmakers due to its cultural and historical importance

Brand new day over The Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey

Brand new day over The Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, a metropolis spanning two continents and the site of countless civilizations throughout history, also draws attention as a unique visual backdrop for international filmmakers due to its cultural and historical importance.

Istanbul / NationalTurk – Istanbul, which has recently been hosting the latest James Bond film, Skyfall crew in its historical neighborhoods, has long been a popular destination for international filmmakers due to its cultural and historical richness. James Bond Skyfall shootings continued eventfully in Istanbul ‘s old city as dangerous motorcycle scenes were successfully staged by two stuntmen for Daniel craig on the roof of the Grand Bazaar not without incident.

James Bond Skyfall shakes and stirs Istanbul

The ancient city, which is currently hosting filming for the latest installment of the James Bond film series, ‘ Skyfall,’ has served as the setting for many world-famous movies.

James Bond movies top the list of movies ‘ starring ‘ Istanbul. Shooting for ‘ Skyfall ‘ moved from southern Turkish province of Adana to Istanbul last month. Skyfall, starring Daniel Craig as Agent 007 and Judi Dench as his boss, M, is the third Bond film to have scenes from Turkey’s cultural capital, after ‘ To Russia With Love’ in 1963 starring Sean Connery (at the Hagia Sophia), and ‘ The World is Not Enough ‘ in 1999, with Pierce Brosnan (at the Maiden’s Tower on the Bosphorus).

The 2003 Greek movie, ‘ Politiki Kouzina ‘ (A Touch of Spice), was also shot in Istanbul, along with ‘ The Accidental Spy.’

The city’s world-renowned venues, such as the Topkapı Palace Museum, Hagia Sophia, Sultanahmet Mosque, the beautiful Boshphorus and the Maiden’s Tower on it, the Grand Bazaar, the Spice Bazaar, Eminönü and the many mosques surrounding the silhoutte, the Basilica Cistern, Beyazıt and many other locations in Istanbul have drawn a long list of filmmakers and directors.

We’re counting down our top 10 movies filmed in Istanbul  ‘ starring ‘ the beautiful metropol and which have made terrific contributions to Istanbul’s international promotion.

Top ten +1 bonus Istanbul movies


1. Skyfall (2012)

      In SKYFALL, James Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 is assaulted, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost. Directed by Sam Mendes. Starring Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Dame Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney, Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe, Ben Whishaw.

2. Taken 2 (2012)

        In Istanbul, retired CIA operative Bryan Mills and his wife are taken hostage by the father of a kidnapper Mills killed while rescuing his daughter. Starring Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen and Maggie Grace.


3. The International (2009)

        Directed by Tom Tykwer, ‘ The International ‘ stars actors such as Clive Owen, Naomi Watts and Turkish star Haluk Bilginer. The film is about an Interpol agent who attempts to expose a high-profile financial institution’s role in an international arms dealing ring. The filming locations include alogside Istanbul Lyon, Milan, Berlin and New York.


4. The Net 2.0 (2006)

      The life of a young computer systems analyst is thrown into turmoil when, after arriving in Istanbul to start a new job, she finds her credit cards useless, her bank account empty, and her identity stolen. Directed by Charles Winkler starring Nikki Deloach, Cengiz Bozkurt, Demet Akbag

5. The Accidental Spy (2001)

      This Hong Kong martial arts film stars Jackie Chan and was directed by Teddy Chan. It tells the story of Bei, a salesman at a workout equipment store who dreams of adventure. He follows his instincts to trail two suspicious-looking men into an alley. When he realizes that the men are robbing a jewelry store, he jumps into action to foil their plans. Later, he sets on his quest to fulfill his dreams of adventure and fortune, traveling to Korea and Istanbul. Many Turkish artists, models and stuntmen acted in the Turkish scenes of the film.

6. Girl on the Bridge (1999)

        It’s night on a Paris bridge. A girl leans over Seine River with tears in her eyes and a violent yearning to drown her sorrows and suddenly Istanbul ..Directed by Patrice Leconte starring Vanessa Paradis, Daniel Auteuil, Frédéric Pfluger.


7. The World Is Not Enough (1998)

      The 19th film of the James Bond series, directed by Michael Apted and starring Pierce Brosnan as Bond, revolves around the assassination of billionaire Sir Robert King by the terrorist Renard. Bond is assigned to protect King’s daughter, Elektra, who was previously held for ransom by Renard. While on assignment, Bond foils a scheme to increase petroleum prices by triggering a nuclear meltdown in the waters of Istanbul.

8. Hamam (1997)

      The film was the directorial debut of renowned Turkish filmmaker Ferzan Özpetek, who lives in Italy. The main character, Francesco, travels to Istanbul in the film to try and sell property she inherits after her aunt passes away. When Francesco discovers the property includes a derelict hamam (a Turkish bath) he instead decides to restore the hamam and reopen it to the public. The film is set in the Beyoğlu district.

9. Topkapı (1964)

      Directed by Jules Dussin and starring Melina Mercouri, Peter Ustinov and Maximilian Schell, the film’s plot centers on a group of thieves who devise a plan to steal the emerald-encrusted dagger of Sultan Mahmud I from the Topkapı Palace. Filmed almost entirely in Istanbul, the city plays a major role in the film.

10. From Russia with Love (1963)

      The second film in the James Bond series, and one of the most popular, was made during a time when the effects of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union were felt the most. In the film, which stars Sean Connery as 007, Bond is sent to assist in the defection of Soviet consulate clerk Tatiana Romanova in Turkey. The settings of the film included Istanbul’s Beyazıt, Sulukule and Basilica Cistern.

11. Istanbul (1957) bonus

      Directed by Hoseph Pevney, the film stars Errol Flynn, Cornell Borchers and Nat King Cole and tells the story of a suspected diamond smuggler who returns to Istanbul and finds that the lady love he thought was dead is actually alive.


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