Monday, 30 January 2012



Istanbul is old, very old.  The capital of three empires is built on seven hills on the Bosphorus Strait and encompasses the natural harbour known as the Golden Hornspanning both Asia and Europe. Within the city you can see the remains of ancient civilisations and their culture jostling shoulder to shoulder with modern day Turkey. The old versus the new, the traditional versus the modern is a conflict the visitor cannot fail to recognise and feel a part of. 
Hagia Sophia

Byzantium, was founded by Greek colonists from Megara in 667 BC and, according to legend, named after their king Byzas, a Thracian name. 
Constantinople was the name by which the city became soon more widely known, in honour of Constantine the Great. It is first attested in official use under Emperor Theodosius II (408–450). It remained the principal official name of the city throughout the Byzantine period, and the most common name used for it in the West until the early 20th century. It was also used by the Ottoman Empire until the advent of the Republic of Turkey in 1923.
The modern Turkish name İstanbul  was in common use colloquially even before the conquest of 1453, With the Turkish Postal Service Law of March 28, 1930, the Turkish authorities officially requested foreigners to cease referring to the city with their traditional non-Turkish names and to adopt Istanbul as the sole name also in their own languages. Letters or packages sent to "Constantinople" instead of "Istanbul" were no longer delivered by Turkey's PTT, which contributed to the eventual worldwide adoption of the new name.

Taksim Square is the hub of the city with all  transport links centered here. Caddesi (Independence Avenue), is a large, pedestrianised area to enjoy a meal, shopping or just to enjoy people watching. There are buskers and street traders including corn merchants and peanut vendors. 
Galata Tower
Galata Tower

During the day the old tram runs back and forth along the centre of the Avenue. Major hotel groups have a presence here as do some well known western fast food chains. At the end of the square sits the tallest building in the city, the Galata tower at 63 metres high. By climbing to  he top of the tower you can enjoy the  restaurant and Café offering superb views of the harbour, the ‘Golden Horn’ and Topkapi palace.  

One of the best know delicacies in Istanbul is ‘Turkish Delight’ typical Turkish sweets made from sugar and corn flour, with a variety of flavours and colours. Most are made with various types of nuts such as almonds, cashew nuts.

 Along with the traditional Turkish restaurants, many European and Far Eastern restaurants and numerous other cuisines are also thriving in the city. Most of the city's historic winehouses and pubs are located in the areas around İstiklal Avenue in Beyoğlu. Other historic pubs are found in the areas around Tünel Pasajı and the nearby Asmalımescit Sokağı. Istanbul is also famous for its historic seafood restaurants; as an example, the Kumkapı neighbourhood has a pedestrian-only area that is dedicated to fish restaurants. Some 30 fish restaurants are found there, many of them among the best of the city. Also, many of the most popular and upscale seafood restaurants (with picturesque views) are found along the shores of the Bosphorus, towards the south of the city.

Istanbul’s Top 5:
    File:Topkapi Palace Seen From Harem.JPG
    Topkapi Palace
  1. Topkapi Palace. was the primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans for approximately 400 years (1465-1856) of their 624-year reign. As well as a royal residence, the palace was a setting for state occasions and royal entertainments. It is now a major tourist attraction and contains important holy relics of the Muslim world including the Prophet Muhammed's cloak and sword. The Topkapı Palace is among the monuments contained within the "Historic Areas of Istanbul", which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. Following the end of the Ottoman Empire in 1921, the Topkapı Palace was transformed by a government decree dated April 3, 1924 into a museum of the imperial era. The palace complex has hundreds of rooms and chambers, but only the most important are accessible to the public today. The complex is guarded by officials of the ministry as well as armed guards of the Turkish military. The palace includes many fine examples of Ottoman architecture. It contains large collections of porcelain, robes, weapons, shields, armor, Ottoman miniatures,Islamic calligraphic manuscripts and murals, as well as a display of Ottoman treasures and jewelry.
  2. Hagia Sophia . A former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum.  Famous in particular for its massive dome, it is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and is said to have "changed the history of architecture. It was the largest cathedral in the world for nearly a thousand years, From the date of its dedication in 360 until 1453, it served as the Greek Cathedral of Constantinople, except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Patriarch of Constantinople of the Western Crusader established Latin Empire. The building was a mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931, when it was secularized. It was opened as a museum on 1 February 1935
  3. File:Sultan Ahmed Mosque Istanbul Turkey retouched.jpg
    The Sultan Ahmed Mosque
  4. The Sultan Ahmed Mosque A historical mosque popularly known as the Blue Mosque for the blue tiles adorning the walls of its interior. It was built from 1609 to 1616, during the rule of Ahmed I. Like many other mosques, it also comprises a tomb of the founder, a madrasah and a hospice. While still used as a mosque, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque has also become a popular tourist attraction.
  5. The Grand Bizarre.The Grand Bazaar is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with more than 58 covered streets and over 4,000 shops as well as two mosques, two hamams, four fountains, and multiple restaurants and cafes. The sprawling complex consists of 12 major buildings and has 22 doors.  which attract between 250,000 and half a million visitors daily.
  6. Bosphorus Bridge.  The Bosphorus Bridge, also called the First Bosphorus Bridge is one of the two bridges spanning the Bosphorus strait and thus connecting Europe and Asia.The bridge is located between Ortaköy (on the European side) and Beylerbeyi (on the Asian side). It is a gravity anchored suspension bridge with steel pylons and inclined hangers. The Bosphorus Bridge had the 4th longest suspension bridge span in the world when it was completed in 1973, and the longest outside the United States. At present, it is the 17th longest suspension bridge span in the world. 

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