Howdy, dear fans of the.ego.tripper, I was just wondering if you had ever been to Istanbul before. If not, keep reading, I’ll tell you what Istanbul has to offer. If you have been there before, please put your highlights in the comment section.
So, Istanbul, old capital of the Ottoman empire, old capital of the Byzantine empire, and now the amazing city with the big European/Asian divide. With 13 million inhabitants it obviously is the biggest city in Turkey, or in the rest of Europe for that matter, but it’s also the top tourist destination in the world (according to TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Destinations 2014 report). But what’s there to do?
Hagia Sophia is a great architectural beauty and an important monument both for Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. Once a church, later a mosque, and now a museum (since 1935), Hagia Sophia has always been the precious of its time. For centuries it was the biggest cathedral in the world, now it’s one of the biggest tourist attractions.
Istanbul with its alluring, spectacular silhouette has been inspiration for poets, travelogues and in the dreams of statesmen who want to control it. Just think of that magnificent, unmatched skyline made up of Sultanahmet Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Yeni Mosque and Suleymaniye Mosque. Quite difficult to catch in one picture! (tip: the Mövenpick Hotel has special Skyline suites on the 19th floor, offering tremendous views)
Istiklal Caddesi is one of the most famous avenues in Istanbul, Turkey, visited by nearly 3 million people in a single day over the course of weekends. Located in the historic Beyoğlu (Pera) district, it is an elegant pedestrian street, 1.4 kilometers long, which houses boutiques, music stores, bookstores, art galleries, cinemas, theatres, libraries, cafés, pubs, night clubs with live music, historical patisseries, chocolateries and restaurants.
Istanbul is also famous for its bath houses or hamams. In the old city you’ll find loads of bath houses that have been around since the 16th century. One of the best hamams is Cağaloğlu Hamamı, by far the most spectacular of Istanbul’s hamams with its lavishly arched and domed steam rooms, decorated with tulip tiles. Another fantastic bath house is Çemberlitaş Hamamı, built by the famous architect Sinan in 1584.
At one point during your Istanbul visit, you might get enough of all that relaxing in bath houses or being impressed by the cultural heritage of the city. Then it’s time to go out and enjoy one or two of the many fine clubs Istanbul has to offer. Although they can get quite expensive, most of the ‘superclubs’ are well worth it. A few of them offer great views on the Bosporus, like Club29, Reina and Supperclub.
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