THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN ISTANBUL, TURKEY
Kapalı Çarşı (Grand Bazaar)
The bazaar is walking distance to Beyazit and Sultanahmet square. Take the tram to Beyazit square and find “Carsikapi,” one of the main entrances of the Grand Bazaar.
Get lost in the Kapalı Çarşı (Grand Bazaar), the world’s oldest and largest shopping centre. A shopper’s paradise since the mid-15th century, this vibrant bazaar has everything you could ever hope for and more. With over 58 streets and 4,000 shops, there is a lot to explore. Make your way through the labyrinth of of spices, carpets, bangles, and gold-plated ‘eyes’ which are believed to ward of evil. Walking through the maze is a physical and mental feat, as one must resist the hundreds of carpet sellers eager to lure you in their store, where you may end up leaving with a life-savings worth of rugs.Trade funny banter with the shopkeepers offering bargain deals and children eager to be your guide as you navigate yourself through the web of precious gems, fur, hadicrafts, leather, antique coins, and jewelry.
Bosphorus Night Cruise
Eminönü waterfront-Ferryboat docks or Golden Horn (West Side of Galata Bridge) for the TurYol boats
To truly experience Istanbul’s romantic splendor, take the Bosphorus night cruise with the Ferry or the TurYol Boat. Experience the Old City, as you watch the fishing boats gently rock to and fro on the waves. Let the twinkling city lights, and the curtain of stars above your head be your guide as you sail through this 32-km strait, joinng the Sea of Mamara and the Black Sea. From any direction you set out towards, the Southern or Northern Bosphorus, Rumeli Kavagi, or North of the Fatih Bridge, you are bound to pass through some breathtaking sites, samles of such are: the six Ottoman palaces, the Rumeli Hisari (Fortress of Europe on the Northern Bosphorus), Sariyer (Fish market on the North side of the Fatih Bridge), the Topkapi Palace (on the Southern Bosphorus). Revel in the myth and mystique of Istanbul as you listen to stories about the sunken cities under the Turkish coast, how the Bosphorus is believed to be the source of Noah’s flood, and how Hera made Zeus’ mistress into a cow.
Photograph by Mircea Ostoia from Focsani, Romania (Topkapi Palace Istanbul) via Wikimedia Commons
Hours: Wed-Mon 9:00am-5:00pm
Tel: 0212 512 0480 (info)
One of Istanbul’s many highlights is that its history is a dramatic one. The Topkapi Palace is evidence of this, as it was the former home of Selim the Sot, who drowned in the bath after too much champagne, as well as Ibrahim the Mad who was inprisoned in the palace kafes (cages). The tragedies do not end here, as the Topkapi has enough historic tales to fill a national library.
The Topkapi Palace, when translated, means “Cannongate Palace” and was primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans, as well as the administrative centre of the Ottoman Empire. Built by Mehmet the Conquerer after his conquest of Turkey in 1453, the palace underwent numerous renovations all based upon Mehmet’s original four-courtyard pattern. Enjoy the splendors of the past as you walk through the Harem, the Fountain of Sultan Ahmet III, the Audience chamber, and Conquerer’s Pavillion. The harmony of its austere layout and intricate details have made this “Palace of Felicity” a paradise on earth.
Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnıçı)
Photograph by Pnc net via Wikimedia Commons
Yerebatan Cad 13
Tel: 0212 522 1259 (info)
Hours: Oct-Mar 9:00am-5:30pm, Apr-Sep 9:00am-6:30pm
The Basilica Cistern, also known as the Yerebatan Sarnıçı, is an architects dream. As the largest of the hundreds of ancient cisterns beneath Istanbul, the Basilica Cistern has 336 columns, a grand ceiling, and a dramatic carvings, such as the upside down Medusa heads and teardrop designs. It was built in AD 532 by Emperor Justinian I with material from ruined buildings, as a place to store water for the Great Palace and surrounding buildings. In its sheer grandeur and composition, the Basilica Cistern is a breathtaking example of Byzantine sophistication.
Photograph by Penguin Cakes via Flickr Creative Commons
The Galata Tower (Galata Kulesi in Turkish) or better known as the Tower of Christ, is a sight as powerful as its name. As a former stronghold of the Genoese defense system of 1348 in Pera, this intimidating sight dominates the Istanbul skyline. Standing at 66.90 meters, the Galata Kulesi was once used as an observation tower for spotting fires during the Ottoman period. The view from the top is not to be missed, especially at sunset when the colors of the city come alive.