Istanbul is known for a variety of things including its unique culture, its language and its people with over 15 million making it one of the largest cities in the world. It sits on both the European and the Asian continents split by the Bosphorus bridge. Istanbul the city on seven hills it is Europe’s largest city with nearly twice as many habitats as London. It is located in northwestern Turkey at the Western edge of Asia between the Black Sea to the north and the Marmara Sea to the south.
It is the only metropolitan area in the world to be geographically split into two continents with first Greek settlers arriving nearly 3,000 years ago. This city is steeped in history what was once called the Byzantium became the mighty city of Constantinople and later Istanbul. Over several millennia this highly contested region has seen the rise and fall of the Roman-Byzantine and Ottoman empires.
Istanbul’s strategic location between Europe and Asia on the ancient Silk Road has made it one of history’s most important cities. A list of its point of interest would be long enough to bridge the Bosphorus, so here are top 10 things to do in Istanbul:
Istanbul is a fascinating place because it has been home to one of the greatest civilizations i.e. Roman, Byzantine and ottoman. Nowadays it is a bridge between Europe and Asia and it got more culture and here we discuss the top 10 interesting things to do in Istanbul, Turkey
1. Hagia Sofia
Start off with the building that tells the story of the city. There is a church which was built by Byzantine and was converted into a mosque by the Ottomans who were so impressed by its intricate mosaics that they left them largely untouched. In Hagia Sophia, the immense dome crowning this church turned mosque turned museum was an architectural miracle in its time, though it took a lot of trial and error to get to that point: it collapsed twice!
Just opposite of the Hagia Sofia is the blue mosque, the masterpiece of Islamic architecture and surely one of the most beautiful building on earth. Even though Turkey is secular, Istanbul has over three thousand mosques! So, make sure you check out some of the hidden gems and remember to dress accordingly. Guys wear pants and women cover your hair and shoulder with a shawl.
One of the mosques is the Sultan Ahmed Mosque also known as the blue mosque, it takes its name from the exceptional sic minaret mosque, the Iznik tiles adoring this superb building may make it appear bluer than it actually is! There is an entry place at the right side reserved for tourists where you can borrow a shawl to cover your hair or body as required.
3. Top Kapi Palace
Next head over to the Top Kapi Palace, the home of the Ottoman sultans. Get a taste of the lavish life by strolling into its lush gardens, the popular pavilions and of course the sultan’s infamous Harems. The harem was the living sector of the palace, where women and children lived. Out of 400 rooms of top Kapi Harem, only a few are open to the public, but they are really worth visiting. Don’t forget your camera because this place is the Instagram goal. Not only it offers remarkable views of the city, but also houses treasures that make the Crown Jewels look like Claire’s accessories.
If you truly want to live like a sultan, then you have got to experience a Hammam. A traditional Turkish bath where you will be surged up with a mop, then mildly beaten and then rubbed vigorously. Hammam varies from cheap to luxurious. It is a remarkable experience that you will never forget.
5. The Grand Bazaar
Another bucket list item is quibbling in the Grand Bazaar. It is one of the main and oldest covered markets in the world. It is a great place to pick up stuff like rugs, lamps, scarves, jewelry, beautiful souvenirs, and some pretty styling threads. A continuous basis of wonder, it’s also one of the world’s most visited places. Expect a crowd at any time! Grand Bazaar has over 3,000 shops and it dates back to the 15th century. Also, the grand bazaar is the best place to exchange money.
6. Street food
Turkish cuisine ranks amongst the top in the world. And Istanbul streets are amazingly nations best dishes. And don’t worry about hygiene if the street vendor is busy it means the food is fresh and delicious.
Istanbul is the only city in the world which spans two continents. So, make sure to check out both sides of the bridge. If you have a little bit of money you can take a dinner cruise to Asia or if you are on a budget, then hop on a ferry for about a buck.
8. Galata tower
Galata tower, as early as the 1600s, Ahmed Celebi is said to have flown across the Bosphorus from the top of the Galata Tower. Most visitors will be content with incredible views.
Back on the European side, there is a Galata tower which was in the middle ages by Italian merchant’s Genoa. One of the many European ports to establish permanent trade in Istanbul and its influence can still be felt in neighborhood bars and restaurant today. To climb up the Galata tower first you have to take the tickets then you have to climb two staircases, or you can take the elevator too and, on the top, there is a beautiful view. From the top, you can also see the blue mosque, Hagia Sophia and Top Kapi Palace. Also, there is a café at the top where you can have some small snacks. See both the day and night view from the top.
Where ever you go in Istanbul make sure that you spend an afternoon practicing the Turkish keyif with a Tea.
When the sun sets you have got some options from the devout dancing dervishes to seductive belle dancers, bar hopping in Galata across the city with the hip crowd.
These were some of the interesting things that you can enjoy when you reach Istanbul. You can experience many other great kinds of stuff once you get there.