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Published on March 10, 2011 | by Andrea Guerriero


Six things not to miss in Istanbul

Planning to travel to the Capital City of Turkey? This marvellous city boasts a wide choice of attractions and places to vistit, it’s for this reason that we selected for you the 6 things you shouldn’t miss out when visitig Istanbul: Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, Gran Bazar, Happy hour or dinner on the Bosphorus, the Ortakoy District and the Basilica Cistern…

1. Topkapi Palace

The Topkapi Palace, which means Gate of the Gun is a great art museum located on the headland of the Sarayı, which collects the treasure of the Sultan. The palace was the administrative centre of the Ottoman Empire from mid 1400 until mid 1800. It is one of the most interesting buildings of the architecture of the half moon. It consists of a maze of buildings, courtyards and gardens: the Topkapi has an area of 700 thousand square meters and in its interior it is possible to visit the royal stables, the housing of the eunuchs, the library and the harem, a veritable citadel where the women of the sultan’s (wives, daughters and concubines) lived. The imperial treasure is a show of wealth in jewels, precious stones, porcelain and relics.

2. Blue Mosque

The Sultan Ahmet Camii, or Blue Mosque, which is located near the church of Hagia Sophia, is one of the main mosques of Istanbul. The mosque is unique because it has 6 minarets. On the central dome, over 40 meters high and with a diameter of 25, there are four half-domes and among those other smaller half-domes with colored glass windows. It’s called the Blue Mosque because the walls inside are covered with tiles with floral motifs in which the blue is the predominant colour. The mosque was built for want of the Sultan Ahmet in the seventeenth century to counter the beauty and elegance of the Christian church of Hagia Sophia: inside the mosque it is possible to visit the imperial room where there is a secure piece of black stone from Mecca.

3. Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar of Istanbul is considered the largest indoor market of the planet: despite its regular pattern with streets and alleys that are cut at right angles, to get lost in the bazaar is very easy, but equally enjoyable. The vaults of the bazaar are all painted. The commercial structure of the bazaar is the original one, with streets dedicated to specific products, so in some areas there are only jewels, while in other carpets, clothes or even craft products. The beauty of the purchase in the bazaar is the bargaining with the shopkeepers, who offer their products at overmuch prices to give tourists the opportunity to bargain over a cup of tea. The Grand Bazaar has an area of over 30 thousand square meters, with over 3500 shops, a dozen restaurants/local, 22 input ports and 2 mosques. About 20 thousand people work in this big indoor market.

4. Happy hour and dinner on the Bosphorus

The sunset on the Bosphorus is one of those shows that you cannot miss in Istanbul. The ancient Constantinople, from this perspective, gives one of its best faces: in fact, in recent years the banks of the canal that links the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara and that is the border point between Asia and Europe, have been significantly upgraded both with residential complexes and numerous restaurants and bars that offer tourists and town middle-class moments of relax, especially in the late afternoon and evening. In the pubs of the Bosphorus artists of international renown perform and the food both traditional and international is first class. Good places to admire the best views are in the neighborhood of Galatasaray, on the European side.

5. The Ortakoy District

This is a small neighborhood on the European side in the north of the city, offering a charming view both over the city and the channel where buzzes the activities of fishermen. In this district there is a large number of bars, restaurants and it is one of the most ethnically mixed areas of Istanbul, where cohabit Turks, Armenians, Greeks and Jews. In the district there are several mosques, very valuable even if smaller than others in the city: around the neighborhood there are always numerous craft stands and various sellers of waffle and kumpir. This is one of the best places from which to admire the bridge connecting Europe with Asia.

6. The Basilica Cistern

Built in 532 AD, the Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnici) is located in Sultanahmet, the Old Town of Istanbul. This is a wonderful underground building of over 10 thousand square meters with a vaulted ceiling supported by 336 columns, high even more than 8 meters. The base of the columns is immersed in water. The architectural work has been restored by the Istanbul Metropolitan Museum and opened to the public in 1987. This is the largest Byzantine cistern in the city and it was used to feed water to the Imperial Palace. The spectacle that is offered to tourists is very impressive, with the columns that are reflected in the water that is still, but populated with fishes. In recent years, within the tank were held even theater and contemporary art shows.

And after the 6 things you shouldn’t miss out during your stay, we also would like to suggest you a wide choice of hotels deals in Istanbul and flights offers to Istanbul.

Photo of the Blue Mosque by nettaphoto

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About the Author

Hi, I'm Andrea, a travel blogger, web programmer, seo apprentice and amateur photographer based in Milan. I love reading, I love music. I love to travel but only if I leave on a mission! I've been traveling through most of Europe and I love writing about it. I love photography, especially as a way to document experiences, places, events. My Nikon D300 camera is always with me, and it helps me in sharing my life with the rest of the world. Getting in touch with new people, different life styles and foreign traditions, and write about it, is all I can ask for.

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