- Istanbul is a city where you can have a European experience with an Islamic grace. Spires and domes of mosques, medieval architecture dominate the skyline. At dawn, you can see people going to mosque for the first prayer as you hear the call of muezzin rebound from the ancient minarets. Meanwhile, you see clubbers making their way home from the nightclubs and bars while their neighbors kneeling on the prayer rug. Istanbul has a very unique ability to make so many diverse things rhyme together.
- Istanbul, where Asia meets with Europe-Istanbul has got two continents; Asia and Europe. You can cross the waters that separate Asia and Europe and enjoy the beauty of the Bosphorus. Every time, crossing from one side of the city to the other is a sight for sore eyes. You can take as little as 25 minutes, or a full day Bosphorus cruise but i would suggest make it mandatory.
Spring in Istanbul is all blossoms and no crowds-The city flourishes at this time of year, and it’s free of all the queues and over-crowded buses of the summer months.I did visit in the month of April, the weather was perfect.When during the day its warm and chilly by the night.Tulips are the highlight of this season ,blossoming in every corner of the city and where your eyes can take you.
- This city has SO MUCH to offer! History, culture, art, great food, friendly people and most importantly, a wonderful energy that makes you want to come back.Did you know that Turkey was the 6th most visited country in the world behind France, USA, China, Spain and Italy? And Istanbul is the heart of this nation.
- Istiklal Caddesi-Both modern and traditional at the same time, Istiklal Caddesi is the street that embraces locals and tourists equally. Istiklal means Independence in Turkish but before assuming this name, it was known as the Grand Rue de Pera. The atmosphere of pedestrian bustle, iconic trams and Dondurma vendors is addictive, especially in the early evening when the festive lights work their magic.Recommended stay close to the Istiklal street ,so that u can walk up to this street during the night and enjoy the night life or a coffee,an early breakfast,catch a bite,everything and anything can be done here.Must try the water chestnuts available on carts during spring.
- The Food-The renowned Turkish Village breakfast is too good to pass up.The cuisine is brimming over with exotic tastes and fascinating culinary combinations. Istanbul’s vibrant restaurant scene offers a remarkable mix of traditional and global cuisines. Traditional local restaurants serve a marvelous array of authentic Turkish cuisine from around the country, alongside avant-garde Mediterranean fusion hotspots. Don’t forget to take away with you for your friends and family the most famous delicacy of Turkey Baklawa. There are tons of varieties of Baklawa available in the markets of Turkey .You will be spoilt for choice. Nevertheless everything is delicious.Coffee lovers do try the Turkish coffee ,although it was too bitter for my taste buds.
- Visit breathtaking landmarks of architecture. Istanbul is home to architectural must-sees such as the Suleymaniye and Blue Mosques, and the Basilica Cistern “Sunken Palace”, to name just a few. And no visit to Istanbul is complete without visiting the Hagia Sophia, the exquisite domed Byzantine masterpiece that is considered to have changed the history of architecture.
- The Basilica Cistern-It takes a while for the eyes to adjust when first entering this cool damp Byzantine cistern.It was rediscovered in 1545 when locals revealed they could retrieve water by simply lowering buckets beneath their floorboards, neglected by the Ottomans and finally restored in 1985 and opened to the public in 1987. It originally held 80,000 cu m of water delivered by 20km of aqueducts from a reservoir on the Black Sea coast. Peer into the pools of reflected light at the schools of carp, and don’t forget to locate the Medusa Head pillars (just follow the crowds).The cool factor on a hot day – priceless.
- Once church, then a mosque, then turned museum, the Hagia Sophia is a wonder to be explored-The building is a feat of imagination and engineering skill, a testament to the city’s profound contribution to all of human history.
- Topkapi Palace, home to generations of sultans and their wives, who were closeted in the famous harem. A collection of lush green courtyards and delicate kiosks, the Topkapi boasts a treasury to put the crown jewels in the shade, as well as views to die for over the Sea of Marmara, Bosphorus and Golden Horn.
- Suleymaniye Mosque, is the largest mosque in Istanbul, the Suleymaniye Mosque was designed by the great architect Sinan, for the Ottoman emperor Sultan Suleyman in 1558 AD.
- Blue Mosque, is one of only a handful of mosques in the world to boast six minarets. Is it really blue? Well, not noticeably, although all the walls are papered with fine İznik tiles.
- The Markets- A visit to the Grand Bazaar is traditionally Istanbul’s tantamount shopping experience.Another essential shopping trip is to the Spice Markets, which offers endless rows of fragrant spices and delectable sweets piled high in handmade wooden baskets.Travelers who love to shop shouldn’t miss out on a visit to these markets.Must buy hazelnuts and a packet of mixed dry-fruits(they are delicious),evil eye souvenirs and ceramic coasters/tiles.
- If you are bored of vising the architectural landmarks of Istanbul or you’ve had an overdose of visiting monuments and mosques, Princess Island is a great escape.The Prince Islands may be hot spots during summer but they are amazing all year round-Even in the grey winter months, these islands are an enclave of peace and the slow-life. Take a long walk, have dinner at an old monastery, or simply join the locals on the beach. It is an insight into a multicultural society in modern Turkey.Here you will find houses of the rich and famous.
- Istanbul has one of the best nightlife!We partied at the Istiklal street, where clubs are small(cube size) and party often tends to spill out on the streets. The entire street is like one big party hub. Its is by far one the craziest party scene I have witnessed. From strip clubs to hookah lounges , this street is one stop hub for all.
- Last but not the least ,its a city that inspires all kinds of artists, from poets and writers to contemporary musicians.One such that touched my soul was the Whirling Dervishes. The Hodjapasha Art & Culture Center near Sirkeci Station is the venue where I saw and believe me you have to see this dance form once in your life. The entire experience is very divine and peaceful.
I loved Istanbul and hope to visit this city again soon.I have already been dreaming of visiting this country since the day I left it.It is one of its kind.
Most of the pictures are taken by me but some of them were taken by my fellow travelers in my group (arcxplore) and my boss .Thus the picture credits have been mentioned.