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An Unforgettable Vacation In Istanbul

Updated on August 21, 2018

A very Ancient city; Istanbul

Istanbul is one of the oldest cities of the world. According to legend, the city of Istanbul was founded by Byzas the Megarian in 667 BC.In 512 BC, the city was conquered by the Persian Emperor Darius, in 340 BC the city lived the unsuccessful siege of Philip of Macedon than the son of Philip, Alexander the Great, went on to capture the city in 334 BC. Following his death, the city came under the power of the Romans.The year 395 historically saw the Roman Empire split in two - to western and eastern Rome, although the Western Roman Empire quickly declined within a hundred years. The powerful Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantine Empire, choose Istanbul as its capital. However, it came under Arab and Bulgarian rule for a short time, although the city always remained the capital of the Byzantine Empire during these periods. It also suffered from the crusades.

Finally, in 1453, the Ottomans lead by Mehmet II conquered the city and made it their capital, from 1453 until 1922. When the Turkish Republic was established in 1923 by Ataturk, Ankara became the capital. Nevertheless, historic Istanbul remains the commercial and tourist center of the country today.

Here is my top 10 places to visit in Istanbul

  • Old traditional wooden houses along the Bosporus, the "Yalis"
  • Galata Tower
  • Topkapi Palace
  • Mosques (Sultahahmet Mosque, Sulaymaniye Mosque,Fatih Mosque...)
  • Byzantine Buildings (Hagai Sophia, Cora Museum)
  • Fountains
  • Shopping in Istanbul
  • City Walls
  • Obelix
  • Istanbul Archaeological Museum

Amcazade Huseyın Pasa Yali

"Yalis", old traditional wooden houses along the Bosphorus

A yali is a house or mansion constructed at immediate waterside (almost exclusively seaside) in Istanbul and usually built with an architectural concept that takes into account the characteristics of the coastal location.Finely worked wood was the predominant construction material chosen for yali, as it was for the large majority of traditional Turkish houses.

In the Ottoman Empire the wealth large families or high rank government officials built these yalis as their summer houses. The houses built on a large land have a boat house and other small buildings for servants. The gardens were all very lovely.

The picture shows Amcazade Huseyin Pasa Yali located between Kanlica and Anadolu Hisari, was constructed by a high government official in 1698. I took this picture on a sunny April day from a boat.

“If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Istanbul.”

A. de Lamartine

Galata Tower

Galata Tower

Although it is not completely certain as to when the Galata Tower was built, it is claimed that the it was built during the reign of the Byzantian Emperor, Iustinianos in 507 CE.

It was called the Christea Turris (Tower of Christ) by the Genoese and the Megalos Pyrgos (The Great Tower) by the Byzantines. It took its present shape during the Genoese period. The Tower was heavily damaged during an earthquake in 1509, and it was renewed by the architect, Hayrettin, who was very famous during that period. During the reign of Süeyman the Magnificent (1520-66), it was used as a jail for prisoners . The head astrologer, Takiyeddin Efendi, established an observatory on the top of the tower at the end of the 16th century and functioned as an observatory for a particular period of time. Later, it was closed and again turned into a prison by Sultan Murat III (1546-1595).

Today, the Galata Tower operates solely as a touristic attraction by a private company. The elevator only goes to the 7th floor, and the last two floors of the tower must be climbed by stairs.

After passing though the restaurant on the top floor, there is a balcony that encircles the tower. The restaurant's view showcases a scene of Istanbul and the Bosphorus.

In 1638, Hezarfen Ahmet Ãelebi flew as an early aviator using artificial wings from this tower across the Bosphorus to the slopes of Usküdar on the Anatolian side during the reign of Murad V. Towards the 17th century,

Topkapi Palace

Soon after the city was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1453, Sultan Mehmet II - the Conqueror, began to build Topkapi Palace including the Harem. The palace complex is located on the Seraglio Point (Sarayburnu), a promontory overlooking the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara, with the Bosphorus in plain sight from many points of the palace. The site is hilly and one of the highest points close to the sea.

Topkapi Palace was the main residence of the sultan and his court. It was initially the seat of government as well as the imperial residence. Even though access was strictly regulated, inhabitants of the palace rarely had to venture out since the palace functioned almost as an autonomous entity, a city within a city. Audience and consultation chambers and areas served for the political workings of the empire. For the residents and visitors, the palace had its own water supply through underground cisterns and the great kitchens provided for nourishment on a daily basis. Dormitories, gardens, libraries, schools, even mosques, were at the service of the court. Attached to the palace were diverse imperial societies of artists and craftsmen collectively called the Ehl-i Hiref (Community of the Talented), which produced some of the finest work in the whole empire.

It was to be the main residence of the Ottoman Sultans till the 19th century, and today exhibits an outstanding treasury and Islamic relics collection.

Mosques of Istanbul

Facing St. Sophia stands the supremely elegant, six-minaret, imperial Sultan Ahmet Mosque. Built between 1609 and 1616 by the architect Mehmet, the bulding is more familiarly known as the Blue Mosque necause its interior gleams with a magnificent paneiring of blue and white Iznik tiles.

The cascading domes and four slender minarets of Suleymaniye Mosque dominate the skyline on the Golden Horn's west bank. Considered the most beautiful of all imperial mosques in istanbul, it was built between 1550 and 1557 by Mimar Sinan, the renowned architect of the Ottoman golden age.

The imperial Fatih Mosque, constructed between 1463 and 1470, bears the name of the Ottoman conqueror of Istanbul, Fatih Sultan Mehmet, and is the site of his mausoleum. Standing atop another of Istanbul's hills, it vast size and great complex of religious buildings -- medreses, hospices, baths, a hospital, a caravanserai and a library -- make it well worth a visit.

The great Mosque of Eyup lies outside the city walls near the Golden Horn, at the supposed place where Eyup, the standard bearer of the Prophet Mohammed. died in the Islamic assault on Constantinople in 670. The first mosque built after the Ottomanconquest of the city, this greatly venerated shrine attracts many pilgrims.

Built between 1597 and 1663. the Yeni (New) Mosque hovers over the harbor at Eminonu greeting the incoming ferryboats and welcoming tourists to the old city. Today its graceful domes and arches shelter hundreds of pigeons who make this area their home. Marvellous lznik tiles decorate the sultan's balcony.

The 16th century Sokollu Mehmet Pasa Mosque built in an awkwardly shaped plot on a steeply sloping hill near Sultanahmet is one of the most beautiful examples of classical Turkish architecture and a masterpiece of the architect Sinan. Inside, breathtaking blues, greens, purples and reds color the elegant designs of the lznik tiles.

Walls of glass fill the four immense arches that support the central dome at the Mihrimah Sultan Mosque inside the Edirne gate of the old city walls. One hundred and sixty-one windows illuminate this mosque, built by Sinan for Mihrimah Sultan, the daughter of Suleyman the Magnificent, in 1555.

Fountains of Istanbul

The ancient fountains of Istanbul

Fountains decorate all the most beautiful cities of the world. Istanbul is not an exception. Its architecture is also known for its refined fountains that every guest of the city can admire.

Ayse Sultan fountain

You can admire this fountain in Uskudar district. It is located opposite the Imrahor mosque. It was built in 1598 by the order of Ayse Sultan - the daughter of that period's sultan. The fountain's front is decorated with a historical stele with an inscription, which says: «The pure water of the fountain of life 1007».

The greatest element of the building is a mirror arch, which has maintained the traces of traditional classics in Ottoman architecture. The arch is decorated with rosettes and baldachines, it is trimmed with delicate artistic modeling. The fountain was used very frequently till 1940, and after it it was provided with water by the city plumbing.

Tophane fountain

The fountain, located in the square with the same name in Beyoglu district, was built by Mehmed Aga, by the order of sultan Mahmud I. The inscription on its stele belongs to the poet Nahifi. The fountain forms an architectural ensemble with the mosque Kilic Ali Pasa.

The building represents the transition from traditional classics to Baroque style. Among the other Istanbul's fountains, built in the square shape, Tophane fountain is remarkable with its aesthetic harmony of Baroque style and the elements of traditional Ottoman architecture.

German fountain

Is located at Sultanahmet square near the burial-vault of sultan Ahmed I. It was built in honor of the arrival of German kaiser Wilhelm II to Istanbul.

Performed in the style of Neorenaissance, the octagonal fountain with a small dome was made in Germany, and brought to Istanbul, being taken apart. The dome is covered with golden mosaic inside, and under it there are located eight lockets, on which you can see the monogram of sultan Abdulhamid II and the initials of kaiser Wilhelm II. Till the present day the German fountain at Sultanahmet square is considered the symbol of friendship of the two nation

Map of Old City and Bosforous

Old City Istanbul:
Old City Istanbul

get directions

Spice Market Istanbul

Shopping in Istanbul

Old, new, exotic, mundane, antique, kitsch- shopping in Istanbul is all these things and more.

Everyone knows about the Grand Bazaar with its 4000 shops, but in fact the entire area around it is shopping, shopping, shopping for blocks and blocks. 4000 shops is a mere fraction of the whole picture.

For example, Nuruosmaniye Caddesi, east of the bazaar, is lined with jewelry stores, and fine art boutiques hide in the little side streets off it.

there's also the Egyptian (Spice) Market, the boutiques and shops of Beyoglu, the trendy shops of Nike, Adisas, Mango and numerous modern shopping complexes here and there around the city.

Spice Market


Walk the City Walls

Constructed during the reign of Theodosius II (408-450), the walls of Constantinople are the largest Byzantine structure that survives in modern Istanbul. The walls encompass the old city in a great arc, stretching some 6.5 kilometers (four miles) from the Golden Horn to the Sea of Marmara. A triumph of engineering, the walls comprise inner and outer ramparts with a terrace in between. Although criticised by scholars for having been rebuilt with modern materials in recent years, the restored sections are undeniably impressive.

10 ways ro experience Istanbul like a local

Here are some tips:

Play backgammon

Drink Turkish tea or coffee and smoke Nargile in AliPasa Medresesi

Drink Raki

Eat Dolma

An Egyptian Obelix in Istanbul

During the Roman era, in 390 A.D., this column was brought to Constantinople (now Istanbul) from Egypt. The Emperor, Theodosius, placed this obelisk on a square pedestal in the center of the Hippodrome. The reliefs on the pedestal depict Emperor Theodosius watching the races in the hippodrome and how he erected the column. Egyptian hieroglyphics on the column itself tell of the sacrifices that Egyptian Pharaoh Tutmosis made to the god Amon-Ra.

Turkey's first Museum :The Archeological Museum

Archeological Museum Complex

Turkey's first museum the Archaeological Museum exhibits Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian, Urartian, Hittite, Greek, Roman, and Hellenistic artifacts.

The ornate Alexander Sarcophagus, once believed to be prepared for Alexander the Great, is among the most famous pieces of ancient art in the museum] The Kadesh Peace Treaty (1258 BCE), signed between Ramesses II of Egypt and Hattusili III of the Hittite Empire, is a favourite of visitors. It is the oldest known peace treaty in the world, and a giant poster of this tablets containing the treaty is on the wall of the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.m, founded in 1891.

5 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of Istanbul

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