Istanbul, a city spanning two continents and the site of many civilizations throughout history, also draws attention as a unique visual backdrop for international filmmakers thanks to its cultural and historical significance.
Istanbul, which has recently been hosting the James Bond film crew in its historical neighborhoods, has long been a popular destination for international filmmakers due to its many cultural and historical venues.
The 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 films. Istanbul has already hosted filming for other films in the James Bond series, including “From Russia with Love” and “The World is not Enough.” The 2003 Greek movie, “Politiki Kouzina” (A Touch of Spice), was also filmed in Istanbul, along with “The Accidental Spy.”
The city’s world-renowned sites, such as the Topkapı Palace Museum, Hagia Sophia, Sultanahmet Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, the Spice Bazaar, Eminönü, the Basilica Cistern, Beyazıt and many other locations in the city have drawn a long list of filmmakers.
So this week, we’re counting down our top 10 movies filmed in Istanbul and which have made great contributions to Istanbul’s international promotion.
In SKYFALL, Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 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.
- 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.
- The International (2009)
Directed by Tom Tykwer, “The International” stars big-name actors such as Clive Owen, Naomi Watts and Haluk Bilginer. In the film an Interpol agent attempts to expose a high-profile financial institution’s role in an international arms dealing ring. The films locations include Lyon, Milan, Berlin, Istanbul and New York.
- Hitman (2007)
Directed by Xavier Gens, “Hitman” stars big-name actors such as Timothy Olyphant, Olga Kurylenko. A gun-for-hire known only as Agent 47 hired by a group known only as ‘The Organization’ is ensnared in a political conspiracy, which finds him pursued by both Interpol and the Russian military as he treks across Russia and Eastern Europe.
- 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
- 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 harbors 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.
- 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… Directed by Patrice Leconte starring Vanessa Paradis, Daniel Auteuil, Frédéric Pfluger.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Istanbul (1957)
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.
Leave a comment if you know any other movies filmed in Istanbul.