Istanbul is the longest constantly populated city in the world, it’s also one of the biggest both by size and population and is the only city in the world that sits on two continents, Europe and Asia. Given its size and history it’s not surprising that the city is full of the most diverse culture and history. I stayed in a very central apartment that I booked through this site, so was close to everything.
For thousands of years the Silk Road and the Spice Road have been bringing not just trade but culture, cuisine, education and philosophy from the Orient into the heart of the city and that diversity and opulence is clearly visible on almost every street corner.
Istanbul is packed with palaces, mansions, mosques, churches and bazaars which all, in their own way, celebrate the city’s vibrant culture.
Given that there is so much to see and do in Istanbul it’s helpful to have some idea of what the top attractions are. Of course it’s personal choice, you may be interested in the city’s buzzing nightlife, the religious and cultural attractions or just shopping in the Grand Bazaar, the biggest covered bazaar in the world, but if don’t have long in the city and you want to get a snapshot of all it has to offer then these are just a few suggestions of what there is on offer.
Poseidon is a seafood restaurant overlooking the Bosphorus. It’s stylish and serves superior seafood and meze. Specialities include calamari, sea bass and fish croquettes.
Cezayir is a beautiful nineteenth century building which has now been converted into a stunning bar and restaurant. The venue attracts celebrities, artists and writers and as you’d expect by the clientèle the restaurant is really top notch. The back bar is one of the most stylish in the city and offers some of the most innovative meze menus around.
The Spice Market
The Spice Market is the second largest bazaar in Istanbul. There are thousands of herbs, spices, fruits, perfumes and silks for sale so simply walking through the souk is a treat for the senses.
The Grand Bazaar
The Grand Bazaar is the biggest covered market in the world, there are 58 sprawling streets and anywhere between four and five thousand vendors. At the heart of the market areas are divided by the goods they sell, books, hats, clothing and jewellery, outlying parts of the market are more diverse and you will find anything and everything as you walk around.
Hagia Sophia is the oldest standing Christian building in the world, although it is today a museum. The church was built during the Byzantine period of Turkey’s history and, although it was built as a church, it was the pattern for many of the most famous and beautiful mosques throughout Istanbul. For centuries it was the largest cathedral in the world, later it was converted into a mosque so the floors were carpeted and the murals plastered over. When the building was unconsecrated and turned into a museum the carpets were taken up, the plaster removed and the preserved early Christian art and perfect marble revealed.
Topkapi Palace was built at the height of Ottoman power and influence. Today it is open to the public. Since it was built to reflect how rich the empire was you won’t be surprised to find that the building and its interiors define what it is to be opulent. The harem alone has 300 rooms which by itself takes a half day to fully appreciate. Other attractions of the Topkapi are its Imperial Gate, Treasury, First Court and the views from the innermost courtyard.
– Thanks Maria!