Istanbul is not only the capital of Turkey

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There are so many wonderful reasons why you should visit this city

Istanbul is not only the capital of Turkey, Istanbul is one of the world’s great cities.

Istanbul is old, dating back thousands of years, and with that, there are many historical places to visit. The city is gorgeous, with its assortment of mosques and their colorful tile work and dramatic architecture.

VISIT:

THE HAGIA SOPHIA:

This cathedral was constructed in 537 AD. For 900 years it was the seat of the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople. The Hagia Sophia was the single greatest architectural achievement of the Byzantine Empire. In 1453, when the Ottomans took over Constantinople, the Hagia Sophia was turned into a mosque. Now, it is a museum.

THE BLUE MOSQUE:

Walk across Sultanahmet Square to the Blue Mosque. Built-in 1616, the Blue Mosque is famous for the intricate blue tile work the covers the interior of the building. It is free to enter, and if you have never been inside a mosque before, this is a good one to start with. There are particular rules you must follow when entering a mosque, and because of the large numbers of tourists that visit the Blue Mosque every day, the entrance procedures are well explained here.

 

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YEREBATAN SARNICI: 

Basilica Cistern is one of the most mysterious and surprisingly romantic attraction in the city, and also it is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city.  This subterranean structure was commissioned by Emperor Justinian after the Nika riots of 532, which devastated the city.

It lies underneath the Stoa Basilica, that’s why people call it “Sunken Palace”. Designed to service the Great Palace and nearby buildings but it was closed when the Byzantine emperors left the palace.

 

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When you step inside, you notice the air become cooler, it is like a natural air conditioning and cool underground air provides a peaceful reprieve. After a little while, you see the impressive 336 marble columns which create an authentic ambiance with their twisted skyline. Marble’s views are outstanding because of their reflections on the water, also its view looks like a photograph from a movie. It is both romantic and breathe taking at the same time indeed. Sometimes you hear a drop of water falling from the ceilings and it still drips melancholically. When you look down the water, you can see fish swimming around the columns.

 

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Most admiring part of this underground wonder is the upside-down heads of Medusa, located in the northwest corner of the cistern. One of the heads positioned upside down, the other tilted to the side. The story is no one who looked at the heads would turn to stone. The origin of the two heads is unknown, but they were not an original fixture of the cistern but rumor is they were recycled form an antique building of the late Roman period.

The cistern is in the Sultanahmet area and just few steps away from the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace. There are lots of restaurants and cafes nearby the cistern in case you need a break!

Balat’s Colorful Homes:

Balat is one of the oldest and most spectacular districts of Istanbul. The second you step foot along its narrow cobbled streets and historic buildings, you sense an atmosphere unlike anywhere else in Istanbul, and indeed the world.

 

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Perhaps the most iconic part of Balat is the district’s colorful houses along sloping cobbled streets. These homes are mostly over 50-years-old, and in some cases are up to 200-years-old. These historic wooden homes are amongst the most photographed buildings in the city, and given its popularity many of these streets now feature cafés and restaurants for you to stop off at and admire the setting.

 

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TO DO:

Cruise the Bosphorus:

The most efficient way to see Istanbul is by cruising the Bosphorus Strait, which connects two seas and is where you might spot dolphins swimming— as you zip between Europe and Asia.

luxurious hammam treatment:

A trip to Turkey wouldn’t be complete without a hammam, a traditional Turkish bath and massage meant to cleanse you physically and spiritually. 

 

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The Spice Bazaar:

Istanbul has two major bazaars—the Spice Bazaar and the Grand Bazaar—and at the former, you’ll find hundreds of kinds of spices and teas along with treats like Turkish delight, dried fruit, and nuts. If you’re interested in buying something, you can sample or smell anything you’d like. Document the process on your Story—def capture the bright colors of the spices and beautiful flowers in the teas.

 

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 Shop at the Grand Bazaar:

With 64 streets, dozens of restaurants (including Nusr-Et, aka Salt Bae’s steakhouse), and its own police station, the Grand Bazaar is basically a city within a city. The shops can become disorienting, and a lot of people will be trying to get your attention. you find anything your heart desires in the Grand Bazaar.

Continent-hopping:

How cool is it that you can cross from Europe to Asia in 10 minutes? The best way to go continental is by boat. Catch the public ferry in Ortaköy, a waterfront neighborhood on the European side of the Bosphorus.

Where to stay:

 

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 Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet:

Understated luxury is the keynote here, and it’s hard to believe that this century-old building was once an infamous prison. Each of the 65 rooms is classically designed with Turkish textiles and art adding eye-catching details. The rooftop terrace and large, leafy courtyard are relaxing city retreats.

 

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Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul:

Right on the Bosphorus Strait’s shoreline and partly housed in a former Ottoman palace, the Kempinski boasts some of the most opulent rooms in Istanbul. The waterfront pool terrace offers unparalleled Bosphorus views while the bar, restaurants and spa offer plenty of opportunity to swaddle yourself in luxury.

 

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 Shangri-La Bosphorus, Istanbul:

This abandoned former tobacco warehouse which dates back to the Roaring Twenties has been given a vibrant lease of life as one of Istanbul’s most prestigious hotels. Virtually hugging the waterfront on the European side of the historic Bosphorus Strait, the views from front rooms and the restaurant terrace are super.

 

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Raffles Istanbul:

Raffles Istanbul is a five-pearl property with dramatic, art-filled interiors situated in an upscale mall and residential complex, about a 30-minute drive from the top tourist sights.

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