Turkey is located right in the Middle of Asia and Europe. It functions like a bridge between these two continents. It effects the culture, food, architecture and everything. If you would visit the most popular city of Turkey: Istanbul, you would probably think the same.
The city makes you feel like you are in both Europe and Asia. Walking through the streets Beyoğlu (New City) like being in a European capital. On the other hand; strolling through the Sultanahmet (Old City) makes you feel like you are in Asia. It’s a great experience to observe this hybrid culture.
Istanbul is the most famous city of Turkey and Eastern Europe. The Bosphorus makes it a unique place. A channel which separates Europe and Asia. Obtained it’s name from Greek mythology. It’s possible to cross a continent within half-an-hour via ferry, metro or car.
Istanbul, had three names in the history: Byzantium, Contantinople and finally Istanbul. At first it was established as a Greek mini-state Byzantium. Later it became the co-capital of Roman Empire alongside with Rome. It was captured by Turks afterwards and became the center of Ottoman Empire. It’s not a capital anymore but it’s still the most important city of Turkey.
Major Things To See In Istanbul
Istanbul’s main points of interest can be counted as Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern, Blue Mosque and Grand Bazaar.
Hagia Sophia built in Byzantine (Eastern Roman Empire) period in 537. My guidebook says that 11.000 people engaged in the construction. It was built by Emperor Justinian, the greatest emperor of Byzantine Empire, one of the longest-living empire in the World. Lasted from 395 to 1453 which means more than a millenium.
Paying a proper to Hagia Sophia only by yourself not easy. Someone might easily miss important details unless an experienced person would tell the details. Therefore I suggest you to hire an Istanbul Tour Guide while walking inside the Hagia Sophia. The visit would probably take slightly more than an hour (with a guide).
Blue Mosque is bustling with tourists due to its location. It’s in the middle of the Old Istanbul and attracts attention with beautiful look. When you have a look from outside, you would probably wonder about where the name “blue” comes from. It’s completely gray! However when you visit inside, you realise the excellent quality 16th century moaics. Major decoration colour, blue, all around the walls and ceiling.
Basilica Cistern is a located under the ground level. This place is intended to be a water reservoir to provide drinking water to the old Byzantine palace. Now it’s the most attractive toruristic spot with its 336 ancient columns. It’s hard to believe this place was just a water tank. With its artistic look and charming atmosphere, now it has the attention it deserves!
Topkapi Palace & Harem Rooms
Topkapı Palace is one of the major touristic place in Istanbul. Usually the visitors see Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and Topkapı Palace in the same day, since they are very near to each other as a triangle.
This palace made out of 4 large courtyards. To visit the palace in spring and summer a great fun. It’s located in large gardens and providing a great view of Bosphorus and brings joy to your holiday.
Grand Bazaar is a must-see place to see. It’s an gigantic historic bazaar with its 67 streets and 3000 shops. It’s impossible to go around without getting lost. Even a map probably would not help. Therefore i recommend you to hire a tour guide at least for a full day tour in this city. You may prefer to see the Hagia Sophia and Grand Bazaar with your guide.
It’s best to discover the Hagia Sophia’s 1500 years of history with your guide. Then it’s good to have a local with you during the bargains of Grand Bazaar. It’s sometimes very difficult to know about the real price of an item there. You never know how much more discount you could have! So take the advice of your private tour guide in Istanbul.
This place also could be interesting for you. Once upon a time, all goods that came from Silk Road and Spice Road gathered in this place. Then distributed to Europe through Istanbul’s pier by Italian sailors (Genoese and Venicians). The heritage of these Latin originated trade colonies can be still seen in the city.