Istanbul has been a magnet for travellers for centuries. The black sea and the Sea of Marmara shoulder the city and are linked by the Bosphorous Straits , one of the busiest and romantic waterways in the world.
fantastic bargains to anyone prepared to enjoy a glass of Turkish whilst haggling with some of the worlds best salespeople.Istanbul has been a magnet for travellers for centuries. The black sea and the Sea of Marmara shoulder the city and are linked by the Bosphorous Straits , one of the busiest and romantic waterways in the world.
fantastic bargains to anyone prepared to enjoy a glass of Turkish whilst haggling with some of the worlds best salespeople.
Sightseeing in Istanbul is an absolute delight . Take a ferry across the Bosphorous and you will experience one of the real wonders of the world. Visit the elegant Blue Mosque with its six minarets , its domes and its thousands of beautiful ceramic tiles , all hand-placed by skilled craftsmen . Then There is the Topkapi Palace, seat of the Ottoman Sultans from the 15th to the 19th century , which is now museum housing thousends of priceless treasures. Visitors can explore the Palace which has stunning views of the Bosphorous.
Istanbul is unique. In no other city in the world do you hear the same exciting and mysterious sounds, do you see magnificent sights and breathe in the same intoxicating atmosphere of Asia meeting Europe.
Eating out is an experience not to be missed. There is a wide variety of local bars and restaurants and , along the banks of Bosphorous, there is an array of value for money eating places , all with tempting aromas and great atmosphere. Try a selection of meze a dozen or so dishes of local specialities which you and you table companions pick at instead of having set main courses. It is a great way to enjoy food. And always washed down with raki the Turkish traditional drink.
One of the supposed seven wonders of the world resides in Sultanahmet, the Hagia Sophia, . Completed in 532 in what was then Constantinople, the eastern capitol of the Holy Roman Empire, the Hagia Sofia has been hailed as one of the most considerable architectural and artistic works of mankind, supporting a vast apparently unsupported dome. It is home to numerous mosaics depicting the Saints and Christ, which have been restored in the past years after their coverage by Turkish invaders in 1453, when Istanbul became the central hub of the Ottoman Empire. Visitors can walk within feet of these mosaics, and can enter most of the sections of the building, including the original second tier, which looks out over the incredible apparent expanse of the interior. The Sophia is known for the illusionary accentuation of its already formidable interior. The floors are marble, worn soft and deep from many centuries of foot traffic, and the stairs to the second tier are original cobblestone with small windows and torch-racks, supporting a catacomb-like atmosphere until one reaches the top. The Ayasofia is a must-see for any visitor to the city.
The famous Blue Mosque, a one-time competitor to the beauty of the Ayasofia and a construct of the city's later Ottoman rulership is an active mosque, as opposed to the Sophia's museum construct. Visitors are welcomed, but asked to observe the peace of the mosque. Women are expected to use head coverings, which are provided upon entry. The scarves are not obligatory, but it is in good form to submit in this case, no matter what your pride. Shoes are not permitted on the woven fabric carpets of the interior, and can be taken off at the entrance. There is a large visiting area, where one can see and, if refraining from flash, photograph the immaculate tiling that gave the mosque its name.
The final, and perhaps most historically rich member of the city's three "absolutely obligatory" sights is Topkapi Palace, the former headquarters of the Ottoman Empire, now a museum to the achievements of the empire and to the Moslem faith. Its name actually means "Cannon Gate", for its incredible fortification in past times. As with many museums in Istanbul, non-residents of Turkey are required to pay an entry fee that is quite small by foreign standards. Inside you'll see the incredible courtyard, numerous historical exhibits, and most impressive, a holy room dedicated to the relics of Muhammad, including personal items, a personal letter written by him to a subordinate, his sword, a lock of his hair and other sacred treasures of Islam.