embraces two continents, one arm reaching out to Asia, the other to Europe.
In the city's heart, the Bosphorus Strait, course the waters
of the Black Sea, the Sea of Marmara and the Golden Horn. The former
capital of three successive empires -- Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman
-- today Istanbul honors and preserves the legacy of its past while looking
forward to its modern future.
Indeed, it is Istanbul's
variety that fascinates its visitors. The museums, castles, palaces, great
mosques, bazaars and sights of natural beauty seem inexhaustible. As you
recline on the shores of the Bosphorus at sunset contemplating the red
evening light reflected in the windows on the opposite shore you understand,
suddenly and profoundly, why so many centuries ago settlers chose to build
on this remarkable site. At times such as these, you feel that Istanbul
is truly one of the most glorious cities in the world.
In addition to its
unique historical and cultural background and innumerable attractions,
the modern hotels, exclusive restaurants, night clubs and shops make Istanbul
a superb site for meetings, conferences and conventions.
INTO THE HEART OF HISTORY
has a past of more than two thousand years, it's not a city whose antiquity
is apparent at first glance. Much of the cultural heritage that Istanbul
has acquired as a result of its being a capital of several empires is
hidden away amidst modem buildings lining streets that have frequently
been redrawn from one generation to the next. Palaces, mansions, fountains,
and monuments of every kind lurk silently within the bustling vitality
of this giant metropolis' day-to-day existence and patiently wait to be
discovered and seen by those with a more discerning and inquisitive eye.
For those who want
to follow the trail of Istanbul's ancient past however, the "Historical
Peninsula" lying between the Golden Horn and the Sea
of Marmara is like an oasis because a substantial part of the
city's rich store of Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman works is to be found
lying on this elongated arm of land.
Meydani, lying close to the southeastern tip of the peninsula,
is surrounded by a bevy of historical monuments lovingly put there by
nations and cultures that were as different from one another as it was
The area that is today
Sultanahmet Meydani and its vicinity is the site of Istanbul's first urban
settlement. This is where, according to legend, Byzas of Megara established
a colony in 657. The hill now occupied by the Topkapi palace
then served as the city's acropolis.
Throughout its long
history, Istanbul's has never been an ordinary city. When it became the
capital of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) empire and renamed Constantinople,
a marble shaft called the Milion was erected to mark the spot as the center
of the world -the world's "ground zero" as it were,
the point from which all roads radiated and all distances were measured.
Although the world's center has long since shifted, the remains of the
Milion still stand on a corner opposite the Ayasofya museum on Divanyolu
-a thoroughfare that follows the same route as the Romans' Mese street.
During Byzantine times,
the Sultanahmet district was where all the city's most important structures
were built: the imperial palaces were located here; so was the Hippodrome,
the center of Byzantine social life, and of course Haghia Sophia,
the empire's greatest church.
Even after the Turkish
conquest of Istanbul by Mehmed II in 1453, this district continued to
be the heart of the city and of an empire and the Ottomans added to its
treasures by constructing their palaces, mosques, and baths here. The
Hippodrome remained and though its name was changed to Atmeydani
(a literal Turkish translation of the Greek "hippodromos") its
traditional Roman and Byzantine functions were not, for it continued to
be a venue for sports and entertainment.
After this brief introduction,
let's take a quick walk around this celebrated plaza starting with the
most magnificent work from the Byzantine period.
two continents with one arm reaching out to Asia and the other Europe.
Through the citys
heart, the Bosphorus, course the waters of the Black Sea, the Sea of Marmara
and the Golden Horn.
The former capital
of three successive empires, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman, Istanbul today
honors preserves the legacy of its past while looking forward to a modern
It is Istanbuls
endless variety that fascinates its visitors. The museums, churches, palaces,
grand mosques, bazaars and sights of natural beauty seem innumerable.
Reclining on the western shore of the Bosphorus at sunset contemplating
the red evening light reflected in the windows of the opposite shore you
may suddenly and profoundly understand why so many centuries ago settlers
chose to build on this remarkable site. At such times you can see why
Istanbul is truly one of the most glorious cities in the word.
On a finger of land
at the confluence of the Bosphorus, the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara
stands the Topkapi Palace, that maze of buildings that was
the focal point of the Ottoman Empire between the 15th and 19th centuries.
In these opulent surroundings the sultans and their court lived and governed.
A magnificent wooded garden fills the outer, or first, court. In the second
court, on the right, shaded by cypress and plane trees, stand the palace
kitchens, which now serve as galleries exhibiting the imperial collections
of crystal, silver, and Chinese porcelain. To the left is the Harem,
the secluded quarters of the wives, concubines, and children of the sultan,
charming visitors with echoes of centuries of intrigue. Today the third
court holds the Hall of Audience, the Library of Ahmet III, an exhibition
of imperial costumes worn by the sultans and their families, the famous
jewels of the treasury and a priceless collection of miniatures from medieval
manuscripts. In the center of this innermost sanctuary, the Pavilion of
the Holy Mantle enshrines the relics of the Prophet Muhammed brought to
Istanbul when the Ottomans assumed the caliphate of Islam. (Open every
day except Tuesday).
of the Dolmabahce Palace, built in the mid-19th century
by Sultan Abdulmecit I, stretches for 600 meters along the European shore
of the Bosphorus.The vast reception salon, with its 56 columns and four-and-a-half
ton crystal chandelier with 750 lights, never fails to astonish visitors.
At one time, birds from all over the world were kept in the Bird Pavilion
for the delight of the palaces privileged residents. Ataturk, founder
of the Turkish Republic, died in the palace on November 10,1938. (Open
every day except Monday and Thursday).
In the 19th century,
Sultan Abdulaziz built the Beylerbeyi Palace, a fantasy
in white marble set amid magnolia-filled gardens, on the Asian shore of
the Bosphorus. Used as the Sultans summer residence, it was offered
to the most distinguished foreign dignitaries for their visits. Empress
Eugenie of France was among its residents. (Open every day except Monday
In addition to the
State Pavilions at the Yildiz Palace complex, the compound
includes a series of pavilions and a mosque. Abdulhamit II completed it
at the end of the 19th century.
the largest and most exquisite of the buildings, reveals the luxury in
which the sultans lived and entertained. Set in a huge park of flowers,
shrubs and trees gathered from every part of the world, the palace grounds
offer one of the most beautiful panoramic views of the Bosphorus. Because
of restoration work, only the Sale and park are open to the public. (Open
every day except Tuesday)
The Goksu Palace,
also known as Kucuksu, takes its name from the streams, which empty into
the Bosphorus near the tiny palace. Built by Abdulmecit I in the middle
of the 19th century, it was used as a summer residence. (Open every day
except Monday and Thursday).
in the 18th century and later restored by various sultans, the Aynali
Kavak Summer Pavilion assumed its name, Mirrored Poplar, when
its famed mirrors, a gift from the Venetians, were installed in 1718.
This palace on the Golden Horn is one of the most beautiful examples of
traditional Turkish architecture. (Open every day except Monday and Thursday).
Ihlamur Pavilion is named for the linden trees that grow
in its gardens. Now in the heart of metropolitan Istanbul, when it was
originally constructed, the pavilion lay in the rolling countryside that
surrounded the city. The Merasim Pavilion was used for official
ceremonies while the Maiyet Pavilion sheltered the sultans
entourage and, on occasions, his harem on the their excursions out of
the palace confines. (Open every day except Monday and Thursday).
Pavilions on a shady green hill were conceived by Sultan Abdulaziz
as hunting lodges. These are particularly noteworthy as superb examples
of the late 19th century Ottoman decorative style. The Malta Pavilion
is presently used as an inexpensive restaurant while both the Maslak Pavilion
and Limonlu Gate are open as cafes. (Open every day).
The Florya Ataturk
Sea Pavilion served as a summer residence for Turkish presidents, beginning
with Ataturk. Built in1935 in a T-shaped design on land jutting out over
the Sea of Marmara, this building serves as a showcase for some of the
loveliest examples of early 20th century furnishings. (Open weekdays except
Monday and Thursday)
Across from Hagia
Sophia stands the supremely elegant Imperial Sultanahmet Mosque
with six minarets. Built between 1609 and 1616 by the architect Mehmet,
the building is more familiarly known as the Blue Mosque
because of its magnificent interior paneling of blue and white Iznik tiles.
During the summer months and evening light and sound show both entertain
and inform visitors.
The cascading domes
and four slender minarets of the Imperial Suleymaniye Mosque
dominate the skyline on the Golden Horns west bank. Considered the
most beautiful of all imperial mosques in Istanbul, it was built between
1550 and 1557 by Sinan, the renowned architect of the Ottoman Empires
golden age. Erected on the crest of a hill, the building is conspicuous
for its great rise from each corner of the courtyard. Inside are the mihrab
(prayer niche showing the direction to Mecca) and the mimber (pulpit)
made of finely carved white marble and exquisite stained-glass windows
coloring the incoming streams of light. It was in the gardens of this
complex that Suleyman and his wife, Hurrem Sultan (Roxelane), had their
mausolea built, and near here also Sinan built his own tomb. The mosque
complex also includes four medrese, or theological schools, a school of
medicine, a caravanserai, a Turkish bath, and a kitchen and hospice for
The Rustem Pasa
Mosque, another skillful accomplishment of the architect Sinan,
was built in 1561 by order of Rustem Pasa, Grand Vizier and son-in-low
of Suleyman the Magnificent. Exquisite Iznik tiles panel the small and
superbly proportioned interior.
The Imperial Fatih
Mosque, constructed between 1463 and 1470, bears the name of the
Ottoman conqueror of Istanbul, Fatih Sultan Mehmet, and is the site of
his mausoleum. Standing atop another of Istanbuls hills, its vast
size and great complex of religious buildings-medreses, hospices, baths,
a hospital, a caravanserai and a library make it well worth a visit.
The great Mosque
of Eyup lies outside the city walls, near the Golden Horn, at
the traditional site where Eyup, the standard bearer of the Prophet Mohammed,
died in the Islamic assault on Constantinople in A.D. 670. The first mosque
built after the Ottoman conquest of the city, this greatly venerated shrine
attracts many pilgrims.
Built between 1597
and 1663, the Yeni (New) Mosque looms over the harbor at
Eminonu, greeting the incoming ferryboats and welcoming tourists to the
old city. Today its graceful domes and arches shelter hundreds of pigeons
that make this area their home. Marvelous Iznik tiles decorate what was
once the sultans balcony.
Sokullu Mehmet Pasa Mosque built on an awkwardly shaped
plot on a steeply sloping hill neat Sultanahmet, is one of the most beautiful
examples of classical Turkish architecture and another masterpiece of
the architect Sinan. Inside breathtaking blues, purples and reds color
the elegant designs of the Iznik tiles.
Walls of glass fill
the four immense arches that support the central dome at the Mihrimah
Sultan Mosque inside the Edirne gate of the old city walls. One
hundred and sixty-one windows illuminate this mosque, built in 1555 by
Sinan for Mihrimah Sultana, the daughter of Suleyman the Magnificent.
The Basilica of Hagia
Sophia (Holy Wisdom), now called the Ayasofya Museum
is unquestionably one of the finest buildings of all time. Built by Constantine
the Great and reconstructed by Justinian in the 6th century, its immense
dome rises 55 meters above the ground and its diameter spans 31 meters.
Linger here to admire the buildings majestic serenity as well as
the fine Byzantine mosaics. (Open every day except Monday)
Museums are found just inside the first court of the Topkapi Palace.
Included among its treasures of antiquity are the celebrated Alexander
Sarcophagus and the façade of the Temple to Athena from Assos.
The Museum of the Ancient Orient displays artifacts from
the Sumerian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Hatti and Hittite civilizations. (Open
every day except Monday).
Rumeli Hisari, or
European Fortress, was built by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1452 prior to
his capture of Istanbul. Completed in only four months, it is one of the
most beautiful works of military architecture in the world. In the castle
is the Open-Air Museum amphitheater that is the site for
some events of the Istanbul Music Festival. (Open every day except Wednesday).
in the 15th century as a kosk, or pavilion, by Mehmet the Conqueror, the
Cinili Kosk, which houses the Museum of Turkish Ceramics,
contains beautiful 16th-century specimens from Iznik and fine examples
of Seljuk and Ottoman pottery and tiles. (Open every day except Monday).
Like the Ayasofya
Musesum, the St. Irene Museum was originally a church. It
ranks, in fact, as the first church built in Istanbul. Constantine commissioned
it in the fourth century and Justinian later had the church restored.
The building reputedly stands on the site of a pre-Christian temple. (Open
every day except Monday, but requires special permission for admission).
The dark stone building
that houses the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art was built
in 1524 by the Grand Vizier to Suleyman the Magnificent, Ibrahim Pasa,
as his residence. It was the grandest private residence ever built in
the Ottoman Empire. Today it holds a superb collection of ceramics, metalwork,
miniatures, calligraphy, textiles, and woodwork as well as some of the
oldest carpets in the world. (Open every day except Monday).
Across the street
from the Ibrahim Pasa residence is the Museum of Turkish Carpets,
which contains exquisite antique carpets and kilims gathered from all
over Turkey. (Open every day except Sunday and Monday).
Near Hagia Sophia
is the sixth-century Byzantine cistern known as the Yerebatan Sarnici.
Three hundred and thirty-six massive Corinthian columns support the immense
chambers fine brick vaulting. (Open every day except Tuesday).
Museum, preserves in situ exceptionally fine fifth and sixth-century
mosaic pavements from the Grand Palace of the Byzantine emperors. (Open
every day except Tuesday).
Museum, the 11th-century church of St. Savior in the
Chora complex, is after Hagia Sophia, the most important Byzantine monument
in Istanbul. Unremarkable in its architecture, inside the walls are decorated
with superb 14th-century mosaics. Illustrating scenes from the life of
Christ and the Virgin Mary, these brilliantly colored paintings embody
the vigor of Byzantine art. In restored wooden houses in the area surrounding
the church you can enjoy tea and coffee in a relaxed atmosphere far removed
from the citys hectic pace. (Open every day except Wednesday).
Museum in Yesilkoy traces the development of flight in Turkey.
(Open every day except Monday).
In the Military
Museum the great field tents used by the Ottoman armies on campaigns
are on display. Other exhibits include Ottoman weapons and the accoutrements
of war. The Mehter Takimi (Ottoman military band) can be heard performing
Ottoman martial music between 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. (Open every day except
Monday and Tuesday).
residence in Sisli now serves as the Ataturk Museum and
displays his personal effects. (Open every day except Saturday and Sunday).
The grand imperial
caiques used by the sultans to cross the Bosphorus are among the many
other interesting exhibits of Ottoman naval history that can be seen at
the Naval Museum located in the Besiktas district. (Open
every day except Monday and Thursday).
Also in Besiktas is
the Museum of Fine Arts that houses Turkish paintings and
sculptures from the end of the 19th century to the present. (Open every
day except Monday and Tuesday).
The City Museum,
located within the gardens of the Yildiz Palace, preserves and documents
the history of Istanbul since the Ottoman conquest. (Open every day except
Thursday). Also within the gardens are the Yildiz Palace Theatre and the
Museum of Historical Stage Costumes, with its exquisite
costumes. (Open every day except Tuesday).
The Rahmi Koc
Industry Museum, in the suburb of Haskoy on the coast of the Golden
Horn, was an Ottoman-period building, formerly called Lengerhane, for
iron and steel works. Today it houses exhibits on industrial development.
(Open every day except Monday).
Up the Bosphorus
in the picturesque suburb of Buyukdere, the collections of the Sadberk
Hanim Museum fill two charming 19th-century wooden villas. A private
museum, which originally displayed only Turkish decorative arts, it has
recently been expanded for a new collection of archeological finds. (Open
every day except Wednesday).
For something different
try the Caricature Cartoon Museum in Fatih on Ataturk Boulevard
under the Bozdogan Aqueduct in the 16th century Gazanfer Aga Medrese.
(Open daily 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.)
Hippodrome, the scene of chariot races and the center of Byzantine
civic life, stood in the area that is now in front of the Blue Mosque.
The area is now named for the mosque, Sultanahmet. Of the monuments which
once decorated it only three remain: the Obelisk of Theodosius,
the bronze Serpentine Column and the Column of Constantine.
Remains from the curved end of the Hippodrome wall can be seen on the
southwest side of these three monuments. Today the square forms the center
of Istanbuls historical, cultural and touristic pursuits. Take particular
note of the surrounding wooden houses, especially the 18th century
homes on Sogukcesme Street. Delightfully restored, they have a
new lease on life as small hotels; one houses a fascinating library of
books on Istanbul.
The Ahmet III
Fountain, built in 1729, stands at the entrance to Topkapi Palace.
A generous roof shades the waterspouts where the thirsty can stop for
a cup of refreshing water. This highly ornate, freestanding fountain is
a superb example of the late Ottoman style.
Mahmut II built the
Beyazit Tower (85 meters high) in 1828 as a fire tower.
Today it is included in the grounds of Istanbul University.
Aqueduct, built in A.D. 368, supplied the Byzantine and later
the Ottoman palaces with water. Today part of the remaining 900 meters
of double-tiered arches straddle the major highway that runs through the
old part of town.
city walls, once an impenetrable fortification, stretch seven
kilometers from the Sea of Marmara to the Golden Horn. Recently restored,
as also many times before, these walls date from the fifth century and
the reign of Emperor Theodosius II. UNESCO has declared the walls and
the area, which they enclose to be one of the cultural heritages of the
Tower, a Genoese construction of 1348, rises 62 meters above the
Golden Horn. From the top there is a marvelous panorama of the Golden
Horn and the Bosphorus. In the evening you can enjoy its popular restaurant,
nightclub and bar.
or European Fortress, was built by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1452 prior
to his capture of Istanbul. Completed in only four months, it is one of
the most beautiful works of military architecture in the world. In the
castle is the Open-Air Museum amphitheater that is the site for some events
of the Istanbul Music Festival. (Open every day except Wednesdays).
also known as Leanders Tower, is one of the most romantic symbols
of Istanbul. On a tiny island at the entrance to Istanbuls harbor,
the first tower was constructed in the 12th century. The present building
dates from the 18th century.
A stay in Istanbul
is not complete without a traditional unforgettable boat excursion
up the Bosphorus, that winding strait that separates Europe and Asia.
Its shores offer a delightful mixture of past and present, grand splendor
and simple beauty. Modern hotels stand next to yali (shorefront wooden
villas), marble palaces abut rustic stone fortresses, and elegant compounds
neighbor small fishing villages. The best way to see the Bosphorus is
to board one of the passenger boats that regularly zigzag along the shores.
You embark at Eminonu and stop alternately on the Asian
and European sides of the strait. The round-trip excursion, very reasonably
priced, takes about six hours. If you wish a private voyage, there are
agencies that specialize in organizing day or night mini cruises.
During the journey
you pass the magnificent Dolmabahce Palace; farther along rise the green
parks and imperial pavilions of the Yildiz Palace. On the coastal edge
of the parks stands the Ciragan Palace, refurbished in 1874 by Sultan
Abdulaziz, and now restored as a grand hotel. For 300 meters along the
Bosphorus shore its ornate marble facades reflect the swiftly moving water.
At Ortakoy, the next stop, artists gather every Sunday to exhibit their
works in a street side gallery. The variety of people creates a lively
scene. Sample a tasty morsel from one of the street vendors. In Ortakoy,
there is a church, a mosque and a synagogue that have existed side by
side for hundreds of years a tribute to Turkish tolerance at the
grass roots level. Overshadowing Istanbuls traditional architecture
is one of the worlds largest suspension bridges, the Bosphorus Bridge,
linking Europe and Asia.
The beautiful Beylerbeyi
Palace lies just past the bridge on the Asian side. Behind the palace
rises Camlica Hill, the highest point in Istanbul. You can also drive
here to admire a magnificent panorama of Istanbul as well as the beautiful
landscaped gardens. On the opposite shore, the wooden Ottoman villas of
Arnavutkoy create a contrast with the luxurious modern apartments of neighboring
Bebek. A few kilometers farther along stand the fortresses of Rumeli Hisari
and Anadolu Hisari facing each other across the straits like sentries
guarding the city. The Goksu Palace, sometimes known as Kucuksu Palace
graces the Asian shore next to the Anadolu Hisari. The second link between
the two continents, the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge straddles the waterway
just past these two fortresses.
From Duatepe Hill,
on the European side, you can admire the magnificent panorama of the bridge
and the Bosphorus. Below Duatepe, the beautiful Emirgan Park bursts with
color when its tulips bloom in the spring. On the Asian shore is Kanlica,
a fishing village that is now a favored suburb for wealthy Istanbulites.
Crowds gather in the restaurants and cafes along its shores to sample
its famous yogurt. Shortly after Kanlica and Cubuklu is the Beykoz Korusu
(Ibrahim Pasa Woods), a popular retreat. In the cafes and restaurants
there you can enjoy the delightful scenery and clear, fresh air. Back
on the European side, at Tarabya Bay, yachts seem to dance at their moorings.
The coastal road bustles with taverns and fish restaurants from Tarabya
to the charming suburbs of Sariyer and Buyukdere. Sariyer has one of the
largest fish markets in Istanbul and is also famous for its delicious
varieties of milk puddings and borek (pastries). On past Sariyer, the
narrow strait widens and opens into the Black Sea.
HALIC (THE GOLDEN
This horn-shaped estuary
divides European Istanbul. One of the best natural harbors in the world,
the Byzantine and Ottoman navies and commercial shipping interests were
centered here. Today, lovely parks and promenades line the shores where
the setting sun casts a golden hue on the water. At Fener and Balat, neighborhoods
midway up the Golden Horn, whole streets full of old wooden houses, churches
and synagogues date from Byzantine and Ottoman times. The Orthodox Patriarchy
resides here at Fener. Eyup, a little further up, reflects Ottoman architecture.
Cemeteries dotted with dark cypress trees cover the hillsides. Many pilgrims
come to the Tomb of Eyup in the hope that their prayers will be granted.
The Pierre Loti Café, atop the hill overlooking the shrine is a
wonderful place to enjoy the tranquility of the view.
ART, CULTURE, AND
Istanbul is an international
art and cultural center. The International Arts and Cultural Festival
is held each year in June and July with famous artists coming from all
over the world. These performances are held mostly at the Ataturk Cultural
Center. The Istanbul Science Center (Bilim Merkezi), founded by the Science
Center Foundation and located on the campus of Istanbul Technical University,
has hands-on experimental and theoretical opportunities for adults and
children of various educational levels. In March and April you can take
in the International Film Festival. Those who enjoy classical music can
hear it at the Cemal Resit Rey Hall. Operas, operettas, ballets, films,
concerts, exhibitions and conferences all contribute to the cultural palette
of the city.
Istanbul also has
a rich program of light entertainment. Nightclubs provide splendid entertainment
throughout dinner, ranging from a selection of Turkish songs to belly
dancing. Alongside these are modern discos, cabarets, and jazz clubs in
the Taksim-Harbiye district.
In Sultanahmet, there
are a number of restaurants in restored Byzantine and Ottoman buildings,
which offer a unique setting for an evening out.
Kumkapi, with its
many taverns, bars and fish restaurants, is another attractive district.
People have been meeting for years at Cicek Pasaji in the district of
Beyoglu for snacks and seafood specialties. Also in the area near Cicek
Pasaji is the narrow Nevizade Street, which is the best place in Istanbul
for eating Turkish specialties and drinking raki.
On the Bosphorus,
Ortakoy is the best place for nightlife in Istanbul, with its nightclubs,
jazz clubs, fine seafood restaurants and bars.
At Eminonu dont
miss an opportunity to see fishermen dressed in traditional Ottoman clothes
and their Ottoman-style boats, which you may board to sample their delicious
You may also want
to visit Tatilya Cumhuriyeti, a large amusement park in Beylikduzu past
Haramidere on the road to the Ataturk International Airport.
One could visit Istanbul
for the shopping alone. The Kapali Carsi, or Covered Bazaar, in the old
city is the logical place to start. This labyrinth of streets and passages
houses more than 4,000 shops. The names recall the days when each trade
had its own quarter: the goldsmiths street, the carpet sellers
street, and the street of the skullcap makers. Still the commercial center
of the old city, the bazaar is the original shopping pocket.
and gifts can be selected from among Turkish crafts, the world-renowned
carpets, brilliant hand painted ceramics, copperware, brassware, and meerschaum
pipes. The gold jewelry in brilliantly lit cases dazzles passersby. Leather
and suede goods of excellent quality make a relatively inexpensive purchase.
In the heart of the bazaar, the Old Bedesten offers a curious assortment
of antiques. It is worth poking through the clutter of decades in the
hope if finding a treasure.
The Misir Carsisi
or Spice Bazaar, next to the Yeni Mosque at Eminonu, transports you to
fantasies from the mystical East. The enticing aromas of cinnamon, caraway,
saffron, mint, thyme and every other conceivable herb and spice fill the
air. Sultanahmet has become another shopping mecca in the old city. The
Istanbul Sanatlari Carsisi (Bazaar of Istanbul Arts) in the 18th century
Mehmet Efendi Medresesi, and the nearby 16th-century Cafer Aga Medrese,
built by Sinan, offer you the chance to see craftsman at work and to purchase
their wares. In the Arasta (old bazaar) of the Sultanahmet Mosque, a thriving
shopping arcade makes both shopping and sightseeing very convenient.
shops of the Taksim-Nisantasi_Sisli districts contrast with the chaos
of the bazaars. On Istiklal Avenue, Cumhuriyet Avanue, and Rumeli Avenue,
you can browse peacefully in the most fashionable shops selling elegant
fashions made from Turkeys high quality textiles. Exquisite jewelry
as well as finely designed handbags and shoes can also be found. The Atakoy
Galleria Mall in Atakoy and the Akmerkez Mall in Etiler have branches
of Istanbuls most elegant shops. In Bakirkoy, the Carousel Mall
is worth a visit, as is the Atlas Passage in Beyoglu. Bahariye Avenue,
Bagdat Avenue, and Capitol Mall on the Asian side, offers the same shopping
busy flea markets you can find an astonishing assortment of goods, both
old and new. Every day offers a new opportunity to poke about the Sahaflar
Carsisi and Cinaralti in the Beyazit district. On Sundays, in a flea market
between the Sahaflar and Covered Bazaar, vendors uncover their wares on
carts and blankets. The Horhor carsisi is a collection of shops that sell
furniture of varying age and quality. Flea markets are open daily in the
Topkapi district, on Cukurcuma Sokak in Changir, on Buyuk Hamam Sokak
in Uskudar, in the Kadikoy Carsi Duragi area, and between Eminonu and
Tahtakale. After a Sunday drive up the Bosphorus, stop between Buyukdere
and Sariyer to wander through another lovely market.
THE ENVIRONS OF
Islands, an archipelago of nine islands in the Sea of Marmara, were places
of exile for Byzantine princes. Today, during the summer months, wealthy
Istanbulites escape to the cool sea breezes and elegant 19th century houses.
Buyukada is the largest of the islands. Here you can enjoy a ride in a
horse-drawn phaeton (carriage) among the pine trees or relax on a beach
in one of the numerous coves that ring the island. The other popular islands
are Kinali, Sedef, Burgaz, and Heybeliada. Regular freey boats connect
the islands with both the European and Asian shores. A faster sea bus
service operates from Kabatas in the summer.
On the European side
of the Black Sea coast, 25 km from the outskirts of Istanbul, the long,
broad sandy beaches of Kilyos draw crowds of Istanbul residents in the
summer. The Belgrad Forest, inland from the Black Sea on the European
side, is the largest forest around Istanbul. On weekends, Istanbulites
drive out to its spacious shade for family picnics and barbecues. Seven
ancient reservoirs and a number of natural springs refresh the air. The
Ottoman aqueducts, of which the 16th-century Moglova Aqueduct built by
Sinan is the most splendid, lend majesty to the natural surroundings.
Overshadowing the entrance to Kemer Golf and Country Club is the 750-meter
long Sultan Suleyman Aqueduct, also built by Sinan. It is one of the longest
in Turkey. The 500-stable Equestrian Center offers trail riding.
On the Asian side,
Polonezkoy, 25 km from Istanbul, was founded in the 19th century by Polish
immigrants. Istanbul residents come to its pastoral landscape for walks,
horseback riding and to enjoy the traditional Polish food served by descendants
of the original settlers.
On the Black Sea,
70 km from Uskudar, Siles sandy beaches, fish restaurants and hotels
make it one of the most delightful holiday places near Istanbul. Cool
cotton clothing called Sile bezi is popular with tourists and is fashioned
Birds Paradise and Botanic Park, 38 km from Istanbul, is a unique
place to relax. Many species of birds and plants from all over the world
can be seen in this park, which also has restaurants and a promenade for
The charming fishing
town of Eskihisar, southeast of Istanbul, boasts a marina where yachtsmen
can moor their boats after a day out on the Sea of Marmara. In town, the
house of Osman Hamdi Bey, Turkeys great 19th-century paonter, has
been converted into a museum. Neighboring sites include the tomb of Hannibal
between Eskihisar and Gebze, and a Byzantine castle.
have summer homes near Silivri, popular vacation area about 65 km from
Istanbul. A large holiday resort, it offers sports, health, and fitness
facilities, that include the Klassis Country and Golf Club, and excellent
dining. The conference center attracts business people who want to escape
the citys fast pace for a working holiday. A regular sea bus service
connects Istanbul to Silivri.
Yachting is very popular
in Istanbul. This is the only place in the world where you can enjoy the
beauty of a mystical landscape while sailing back through history to Roman,
Byzantine and Ottoman times, and view magnificent castles, palaces and
From the North Sea
through the European interior, yachters can sail down the European channel
system and the Rhine and Danube Rivers into the Black Sea harbors and
to the Istanbul Bogazi and Istanbul Marinas-a safe and short way to come.
Sail on the Istanbul
Bogazi under the enormous bridges spanning two continents and around the
Princes Islands to their beautiful bays, where you may anchor and
enjoy the serenity of the area. After enjoying all of the sights return
to one of the two large marinas. Atakoy Marina with a blue flag rating
is on the European side and Kalamis Marina is on the Asian side. Both
offer 24-hour service. International Offshore Yacht races are held in
Istanbul every summer. Moving on from Istanbul through the Sea of Marmara
you come to Canakkale and the famous Dardanelles, site of an historic
World War I campaign that sealed Mustafa Kemal as a man of destiny. Continue
on into the Aegean Sea for fine cruising and end up along the golden sands
of the Maditerranean.
Istanbul offers lovely
opportunities for golf enthusiasts:
The Klassis Golf and
Country Club, 65 km from Istanbul in Silivri, is one of the areas
largest golf clubs, with an 18-hole course and a 9-hole course.
The Kemer Golf and
Country Club, 18 km from Istanbul in the Belgrad Forest near the town
of Kemerburgaz, offers a formidable test of golf skill on its 9-hole course.
The Istanbul Golf
Club in the Ayazaga district of Istanbul also has a 9-hole course.